One of the many dire inevitabilities of the climate crisis, so the experts tell us, will be an increase in refugees–probably from the world’s poorest countries—which will be hardest hit by rising seas and soaring temperatures caused by the world’s most developed and prosperous nations.
But the refugee situation is already well underway. Consider the thousands of walrus that have come ashore in Alaska, no longer able to use the summer sea ice as a place to give birth or as a diving platform to hunt for food.
I feel guilty, ineffectual and ashamed to be human. But I am human. It’s inescapable.
So I try to justify my existence. I go round and round in circles. I show these pictures to students:
Look, look! (the urgency of the first grade primer)
Don’t be paralyzed, I say (although I feel paralyzed.)
Don’t give in to despair (even though I often give in to despair)
You can do something ( I believe this)
It’s not too late (part of me fears that it is)
The whole lecture is really some inner pep talk. As I warn them about graphic images, I can barely contain my own dread, even at the most familiar documentaries and exposes. As I rally students to change the world, I tell myself: At least don’t shut your eyes. At the very least, keep going.