Dirty tricks

Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.

At my age it makes little sense to read a book with the phrase "living through the next 50 years" in its title.

Who am I kidding? I'm 63.

Still, "Hot: Living through the next 50 years on Earth," by journalist Mark Hertsgaard is compelling reading.

I likely won't be around to see how the next half century plays out.

But I read "Hot" for the same reason he wrote it: Parenthood.

"Hot," as you might imagine is about climate change.

And Hertsgaard wrote it for the sake of his daughter, Chiara.

"Twenty years from now, when I hope Chiara would be finishing college and preparing to make her way in the world, average global temperatures would still be rising, unleashing yet more powerful impacts," he writes. "And temperatures and impacts were bound to keep increasing until at least 2050, when Chiara would be almost as old as I was now."

My kids are already of college age, but like Chiara, Andrew and Jenny will be living with the consequences of their parents' carbon excesses for the rest of their lives.

Being rather fond of my children, I do not wish that on them or anybody else's kids.

The premise of "Hot" is that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change — extreme weather events, droughts, flooding, rising temperatures, disruption in food production and so forth — so it's too late to stop it.

All we can reasonably expect to do, Hertsgaard argues, is adapt to cope with the inevitable consequences in the near future, while changing our energy choices and reducing our carbon emissions to keep things from getting even worse in the long run.

Hertsgaard calls it "managing the unavoidable," and "avoiding the unmanageable."

"But there is no sense in pretending that the rapid transition we need to make a climate-friendly and climate-resilient civilization will not involve cost and sacrifice," he writes.

And that's the rub.

As a society we've decided ignorance is bliss when it comes to the fate of the next generation and generations to follow.

What we don't want to know surely can't hurt our children or their children, will it?

Anyway, we've got bigger things to worry about, like $4-a-gallon gas, than the climate change "hoax" that scientists keep trying to foist on us.

Mine may be the first generation in human history to collectively decide it's not worth sacrificing our own lifestyles for the sake of our children.

Which is not to say we intend to sit back and do nothing about the Earth's increasingly bad behavior.

Why, just the other day, with his state burning from one end to the other, Gov. Rick Perry called on fellow Texans to pray for three days "to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires."

If Texas has a prayer of ending its inferno, then I suppose anything is possible.

Still, this all seems like a dirty trick to be playing on our kids.

Ron Cunningham is editorial page editor of The Sun. Contact him at voice@gvillesun.com or 374-5075. Read his blog, Under The Sun, at www.gainesville.com/opinion.

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