By Larry Dablemont
My dad and I had lots of talks on river gravel bars; from the time I was a boy to the years after I had kids of my own. I remember in particular, a time in the fall when I was home from college, talking about the education I was getting.
“An education ain’t worth much,” Dad told me, “if you don’t have common sense to go with it. I’ve got to say that in what I have seen in my time, it is common sense that I’d value most.”
“But I would say too” he continued, “that a man who has both and uses them right is the man who’s ahead of all the rest.”
I have always hoped that men could see a little of both in what I write, and I have not written at all about this thing we call climate change. I see it, and I recognize it, but it is an ‘earth change’, and little more. Maybe it is a progression that comes from greatly increasing numbers of humans and their livestock. I suspect that is the case, and if so there is nothing we can do about it in congress or the Supreme Court, or even in church.
A little common sense is needed, and very hard to find today. But what is coming is coming! Men might be able to stop a speeding meteor from hitting the earth with a speeding missile, but a slow, slow change that is eventually either catastrophic or of no consequence cannot be stopped. Humans WILL progress and repopulate. There will in time be too many of us to say, ‘let’s save our forests’, or ‘let’s save our rivers.’ Where men live in masses, there can’t be clean air or clean water. Change won’t be in our hands, no matter how much that overused word is sought.
There will never be less concrete and pavement in those places, unless a great catastrophe occurs, to bring human populations well down from what it is now. Men flock together in such huge cities, predominantly for material gain, greater knowledge, greater power.
A few who live in remote spots where they are close to a natural world do so to have peace and freedom and a satisfaction from living with what they have, disdaining more money or more things. And they love not being part of the herd. I grew up amongst some very poor people who lived that way. They believed that life was too short to waste on material things which deteriorate. They believed heaven was a real place, and I saw a happiness and contentment then that most of the world today seems to have lost. I think they and their time is far behind us, that philosophy of life forgotten.
But make no mistake, the earth IS changing. It is going too far to say that it is going to be unlivable if we don’t rid ourselves of fossil fuels. Shooting one rat in the grain bin don’t do much good if you have 20 more beneath the barn you are oblivious to.
What if the sun is just edging a tiny bit closer to the earth?… Or is it vice versa? How many people know the answer to that? I grew up with old time Ozarkians who didn’t. But they didn’t care one way or another, they just worried about why springs were drying up, or why the hoot owls were getting so thick or why the hens weren’t laying eggs… or when it was going to rain, or when the snow was going to melt. Life was simple, but life was good. I know. I was there.
As a naturalist, living with and studying the natural world for five decades, I see things that fascinate me that I cannot explain. I’ll write about that here too in future columns. I saw the time when the earth was a giant sponge which soaked up and held the rain and melting snow, and now it has become a giant rock that holds no moisture. The rain falls and leaves in a hurry. Hasn’t anyone noticed the results of that… the floods that come?
In recent years I have seen some Ozark rivers at the highest levels ever and then soon after at the lowest levels ever recorded. That cannot be reversed now. But if we look for reasons that there is a gradual heating of the earth, we have to look at the millions of acres of concrete and pavement which holds and increases the sun’s heat. Is that possibly the reason that heat is melting the ice caps? Who amongst the climate change experts, talks about that?
What climate will become it will become, and we might as well live the life we have chosen and give it no more thought. Tomorrow is not changeable now… maybe it never was. But I don’t think it is wise to build back a house on sand where a hurricane raged. Worse ones are to come. I don’t think it is wise to live where floods leveled the land, or in California where the fires will only get worse. But men will do that, they always have.
That’s what I think, but what do I know? Maybe I have too much commons sense and too little education. We cannot fight what great populations of men cause, but here in rural midwestern country, we can live without so many consequences. Problem is, the people from New York and Chicago and California are going to flee what they have created, and they will come here, where they will want to create what they left. More concrete and pavement is coming everywhere! And when the sun is hot, you can’t live on concrete and pavement, even if there are no fossil fuels and the air is clean.
As much as I love the Ozarks, if I were young right now, I would go to the land of northern lights. I have seen that land of northern Manitoba and Northwest Ontario, and Saskatchewan and Alberta. It is land much like God made it. It is land where few men are found. But people there are much like the Ozarkians I knew as a boy. It is a place where men will survive the catastrophe which is coming. And it is someplace where a little global warming might be welcomed!!!