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Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

My mother and I just got back from a trip to Kansas and Missouri, where my parents grew up.  We were visiting my 94-and-a-half year old grandmother and staying with my aunt and uncle—my mom’s little brother and his wife.  It was a great trip in terms of family—my grandmother was warm and loving, even though she’s in a nursing home with round-the-clock care, and the rest of my mother’s family was as hilarious as usual.  We had a nice lunch with my aunt Mary’s brother and his wife and told stories.  We saw an old friend of my mom’s from college and got to go to my second cousin’s first birthday and to meet another cousin’s new girlfriend.  All the human parts of it were pretty wonderful. (more…)

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When I started Harvard College, we were still fighting the Cold War.  It was the fall of 1989, right before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  I remember walking through my dorm that November: a friend had his door open and was telling everyone who passed the latest about the crowds spilling through the Berlin checkpoints.

Most of that autumn is a blur.  I vaguely remember doing homework in a random, slightly manic way.  I wrote papers.  I asked questions in class.  I faked being a college student until I could figure it out.  My course selection was equally jumbled.  I took 18th century French literature, modern political theory, and economics—I was trying to cover as many disciplines in as few classes as I could.

To fulfill a requirement, I also took a geology class called “Changing Surfaces of the Earth,” nicknamed “Rocks for Jocks” because it was supposedly so easy.  At the time, the nickname was accurate—the class was a fairly painless walk through plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, rivers, oceans, and sediment.  I actually liked studying how grains of sand moved over the sea floor, a process with the lyrical name of saltation.  Every time I’m in a plane watching the way the rivers below meander and twist in their channels, I think of that class. (more…)

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Yesterday, I read Bill McKibben’s stark new piece on climate change in Rolling Stone.  I’m still reeling from it, still feeling the urgency of his terrifying and uncompromising message.  I’ll have more to say about it–including the way I think I’ll use the piece in my course, the (to me) startling reaction to it in comments, and a thoughtful piece in the New York Times that helps explain why such a simple message is so hard for people both to hear and to act on.

Meanwhile, as apocalyptic visions of the year 2030 whirl through my head, my mother and I have decided to fly to Kansas City in a couple of weeks to see my grandmother, who is 94.  I haven’t seen her in several years, so the trip is very important to me–but I was still cringing about pouring God-knows-how-much more carbon into the atmosphere when I’m really pushing myself and others to make changes in behavior. (more…)

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