I keep having these dreams.
I’ve had them my whole life – over and over and over again.
The skies are filled with smoke and ash.
The land is covered in soot.
The waters run with poisons.
Fires rage uncontrollably.
Great storms sweep across the lands bringing gale-force winds, lightning, and floods.
The seas rise.
The ice crumbles and retreats.
And then there are long long droughts.
The deserts spread.
These nightmares keep waking me up.
I guess that’s what they’re for.
More and more I wake up and I wonder if I’m still dreaming.
I don’t want to chart all of the catastrophes of the Anthropocene, this sixth great age of extinction, and the only one of our own making.
But I can’t escape the news that keeps coming and coming and coming and it just gets worse every year.
I never saw a mastodon, a dodo, or a carrier pigeon.
But in my lifetime …
A third fewer songbirds sing; each spring grows a little more silent.
Half the coral reefs have been destroyed and half of what’s left will disappear before I die.
The whole world is covered in a fine layer of plastic – it’s even in the rain.
The ozone has thinned; our skin is vulnerable.
Clean air and water are hard to find, so countless diseases are on the rise, because of our own toxicity.
It’s not just the things we carelessly cast into our environments that are so toxic; it’s also the ways of relating and thinking and feeling or not feeling about our home, earth, nature that we perpetuate.
I keep making beautiful images, as a way of cleansing my mind, my heart, my soul, hoping others will hope with me, hoping we’ll preserve what’s left, hoping for a better future.
But these increasingly hard-to-find visions of the vanishing restore my soulless and less.
I’m only human and despite our better angels, I am other than I want to be.
What I see is not the change I wish to be.
I just want a better future for our children – at least one that’s half as good as what I had, but hopefully better.
I wish them better dreams than the ones I have.
But I’ve been listening to theirs and often they’re worse.
There’s only so much rationalizing, qualifying, repressing, and denying we can do before our grief gets out.
I realize it will take a generation or two to be and see the change we wish to see.
Maybe if we, all living generations now, work together, we can find a better way.
It’s time we stopped keeping our individual nightmares to ourselves.
It’s time we started dreaming a better future together.
We don’t have much time left, there will come a point when Eden can no longer be restored – and then neither can we.
This is my global warning.