Future Earth Days: A world without birds?

I'm tough on my grandson. He's a great kid at 13. He's been a bright light in my life, and we have great times together. But I'm tough on him because our future is very iffy, and I want him to grow up strong and capable. He may really need some survival skills in his future.

When 9/11 happened — and I was watching it on television when it did — our world shifted. I hadn't spent a lot of time watching our politics or the politics of other countries prior to that event. Now I do, and I get worried when things are looking dicey somewhere.

But the politics and warfare of our times are about to become minor features in our future compared to some big changes coming due to our changing climate. And nobody wants to take this seriously. But this is what I want my grandson to be prepared for, not to become a soldier, but to become a survivor, and to help others survive.

We've watched tsunamis take out coastlines of India and Thailand. We watched earthquakes take out Haiti and Peru. We've watched records be broken for coldest winter, hottest summer, wettest, driest etc., here and abroad. We've been watching the changes for decades and ignoring them. Ice caps melting. Glaciers disappearing. Tidewaters rising. But it doesn't affect us. We can still drive on down to Ingle's and get our oranges and coconuts and coffee. All the things we need and want are still being sold. All the flowers are growing and the birds are singing.

I heard someone tell me, after they'd traveled through China, that there were no birds in China. I was shocked. How can people live with no birds? I was sure they must be wrong. Birds are everywhere. But they weren't wrong. The changes that China has made in [its] environment have wrought an end to birds in parts of China. They aren't there to eat the bugs. They aren't there to spread the seeds. They aren't there to sing.

Do you want to live in a world without birds? Maybe you still don't care. Then keep using up all the fossil fuels and depleting our ozone layer. Continue buying tons of stuff you don't need that has been produced in foreign countries. Expect the same paper-wrapped burger made from cattle raised in Brazil where rainforests once grew. Keep throwing all your plastic nonbiodegradeable trash out into landfills, or the side of the road. Don't recycle anything, like aluminum or cardboard. Make sure your incandescent lights are burning at all hours of the day and night, whether you're at home or not, as well as your air conditioner.

That way there won't be any messy birds. And coal mining will become the next big career move for your kids.

— Gail Caduff-Nash
Mountain Home

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