Nature Corrects Itself … Through Us

By Rivera Sun

At the post office, my neighbor rolled down the window of his pick-up truck to chat. As is typical in Northern Maine this time of year, we praised the sunlight, warmth, bare patches of ground, and eyed the shrinking snowbanks with delight.

“Winter wasn’t so bad, this year,” he weighed in, “not like it used to be.”

At 85, he’s old enough to remember the -20 F temperatures from January onward. At 40, I also remember that same frigid sting, particularly in the mornings while my siblings and I waited for the school bus.

“Gotta give global warming that much,” he joked.

I’m not sure he believes the climate crisis is real, even though he’s lived through the shocking shift in temperatures, seen the impacts on our local farming community, and read the headlines of the disasters like the forest fires, droughts, super-storms, and flooding. 

“It’s not good for the ecosystem,” I venture, cautiously. Contradicting an elder runs counter to the values we were both raised with, but the future of humanity is at stake. “Remember the article in the newspaper that said 90 percent of the moose calves died from tick swarms?”

The moose is iconic, nearly synonymous with the state of Maine. When mild winters fail to kill off the tick population, the explosion of ticks literally sucks the blood out of the baby calves. Moose dislike the changing climate. The hotter summers force them to spend more time trying to get cool instead of munching the plants that give them enough fat to survive the winter.

I can’t imagine Maine without moose.

From the look in my neighbor’s eyes, I know he can’t either. A touch of discomfort shifts through him. He taps the steering wheel uneasily. Then he shrugs.

“Nature has a way of correcting itself.”

He shifts into reverse and pulls out of the parking lot, leaving me with my retort hanging on the tip of my tongue. Yes, nature corrects itself. But that failsafe is crumbling, rapidly. The size of the changes caused by fossil fuels vastly outstrips the autocorrect function of our beautiful planet. When Earth resets from these impacts, human beings may not like the corrections it makes. It will likely not include our species. Or thousands of other species we know and love … like moose.

There is not much time, but there is still enough time for us all to take action today, tomorrow, the next day, and continue until we transition off of fossil fuels. It is a massive shift that must take place in the next seven years if we are to survive. It’s terrifying. Like my neighbor, both options – the doomsday scenario of human extinction and the scale of the transition to a renewable-powered society – make many of us uneasy, worried, and frightened. But of the two, I know which one I choose.

Nature’s way of correcting itself right now is embodied by the students walking out of school on Fridays, pleading with older generations to take action to ensure their future. Nature is correcting itself through climate scientists publishing well-documented facts about this crisis. Or through activists blocking pipelines or pushing universities and retirement funds to divest from fossil fuels. Earth is speaking through city councils declaring climate emergencies, churches switching to solar and wind, businesses cleaning up their act, and much more.

If we hope nature will correct itself … we need to wake up to our role in the re-balancing.  My neighbor and I can be part of these changes. So can you.

Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection and the award-winning Ari Ara Series. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and the Program Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.

Leave a Reply