Water Spouts will speak volubly and endlessly about all the issues concerning water. The ongoing degradation, and growing scarcity, of the water supply here in the US, and the rest of the world. The continued absence of potable water in so many parts of the world. The work being done by NGOs, and charities, in the third world, to help alleviate the situation. The emphasis on WASH ( Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene ) so health and healthy water are maintained. "Water Spouts" will spout it all out.
Tomgram: Chip Ward, Apologies to the Next Generation for the Turmoil to Come
This is the only post today. It expresses a sentiment I, and no doubt, many of you have thought. I am 70 and will not see the worst effects climate change will cause. It is the children of today who will have to face the consequences we are leaving them.
Thanks Chip for expressing our thoughts and fears so well.
We Screwed Up A Letter of Apology to My Granddaughter ByChip Ward
[Note:I became politically active and committed
on the day 20 years ago when I realized I could stand on the front
porch of my house and point to three homes where children were in
wheelchairs, to a home where a child had just died of leukemia, to
another where a child was born missing a kidney, and yet another where a
child suffered from spina bifida. All my parental alarms went off at
once and I asked the obvious question: What’s going on here? Did I
inadvertently move my three children into harm’s way when we settled in
this high desert valley in Utah? A quest to find answers in Utah’s
nuclear history and then seek solutions followed. Politics for me was
never motivated by ideology. It was always about parenting.
Today my three kids are, thankfully, healthy adults. But now
that grandchildren are being added to our family, my blood runs cold
whenever I project out 50 years and imagine what their world will be
like at middle age -- assuming they get that far and that there is still
a recognizable “world” to be part of. I wrote the following letter to
my granddaughter, Madeline, who is almost four years old. Although
she cannot read it today, I hope she will read it in a future that
proves so much better than the one that is probable, and so terribly
unfair. I’m sharing this letter with other parents and grandparents in
the hope that it may move them to embrace their roles as citizens and
commit to the hard work of making the planet viable, the economy
equitable, and our culture democratic for the many Madelines to come.]
I address this letter to you, but please share it with Jack, Tasiah,
and other grandchildren who are yet unborn. Also, with your children
and theirs. My unconditional love for my children and grandchildren
convinces me that, if I could live long enough to embrace my
great-grandchildren, I would love them as deeply as I love you.
On behalf of my generation of grandparents to all of you, I want to apologize.
I am sorry we used up all the oil. It took a million years for those
layers of carbon goo to form under the Earth’s crust and we used up
most of it in a geological instant. No doubt there will be some left
and perhaps you can get around the fact that what remains is already
distant, dirty, and dangerous, but the low-hanging fruit will be
long-gone by the time you are my age. We took it all.
There’s no excuse, really. We are gas-hogs, plain and simple. We
got hooked on faster-bigger-more and charged right over the carrying
capacity of the planet. Oil made it possible.
Machines are our slaves and coal, oil, and gas are their food. They
helped us grow so much of our own food that we could overpopulate the
Earth. We could ship stuff and travel all over the globe, and still
have enough fuel left to drive home alone in trucks in time to watch Monday Night Football.
Rocket fuel, fertilizer, baby bottles, lawn chairs: we made
everything and anything out of oil and could never get enough of it. We
could have conserved more for you to use in your lifetime. Instead, we
demonstrated the self-restraint of crack addicts. It’s been great
having all that oil to play with and we built our entire world around
that. Living without it will be tough. Sorry.
I hope we develop clean, renewable energy sources soon, or that you
and your generation figure out how to do that quickly. In the meantime,
sorry about the climate. We just didn’t realize our addiction to
carbon would come with monster storms, epic droughts, Biblical floods,
wildfire infernos, rising seas, migration, starvation, pestilence, civil
war, failed states, police states, and resource wars.
I’m sure Henry Ford didn’t see that coming when he figured out how to
mass-produce automobiles and sell them to Everyman. I know my parents
didn’t see the downside of using so much gas and coal. The all-electric
house and a car in the driveway was their American Dream. For my
generation, owning a car became a birthright. Today, it would be hard
for most of us to live without a car. I have no idea what you’ll do to
get around or how you will heat your home. Oops!
We also pigged out on most of the fertile soil, the forests and their
timber, and the oceans that teemed with fish before we scraped the
seabed raw, dumped our poisonous wastes in the water, and turned it acid
and barren. Hey, that ocean was an awesome place and it’s too bad you
can’t know it like we did.
There were bright coral reefs, vibrant runs
of red salmon, ribbons of birds embroidering the shores, graceful
shells, the solace and majesty of the wild sea…
…But then I never saw the vast herds of bison that roamed the
American heartland, so I know it is hard to miss something you only saw
in pictures. We took lots of photos.
We thought we were pretty smart because we walked a man on the moon.
Our technology is indeed amazing. I was raised without computers,
smart phones, and the World Wide Web, so I appreciate how our
engineering prowess has enhanced our lives, but I also know it has a
When I was a kid we worried that the Cold War would go nuclear. And
it wasn’t until a river caught fire near Cleveland that we realized
fouling your own nest isn’t so smart after all. Well, you know about
the rest -- the coal-fired power plants, acid rain, the hole in the
There were plenty of signs we took a wrong turn but we kept on going.
Dumb, stubborn, blind: Who knows why we couldn’t stop? Greed maybe --
powerful corporations we couldn’t overcome. It won’t matter much to you
who is to blame. You’ll be too busy coping in the diminished world we
One set of problems we pass on to you is not altogether our fault.
It was handed down to us by our parents’ generation so hammered by
cataclysmic world wars and economic hardship that they armed themselves
to the teeth and saw enemies everywhere. Their paranoia was
understandable, but they passed their fears on to us and we should have
seen through them. I have lived through four major American wars in my
62 years, and by now defense and homeland security are powerful
industries with a stranglehold on Congress and the economy. We knew
that was a lousy deal, but trauma and terror darkened our imaginations
and distorted our priorities. And, like you, we needed jobs.
Sorry we spent your inheritance on all that cheap bling and,
especially, all those weapons of mass destruction. That was crazy and
wasteful. I can’t explain it. I guess we’ve been confused for a long
Oh, and sorry about the confusion. We called it advertising and it
seemed like it would be easy enough to control. When I was a kid,
commercials merely interrupted entertainment. Don’t know when the lines
all blurred and the buy, buy, buy message became so ubiquitous and
all-consuming. It just got outta hand and we couldn’t stop it, even
when we realized we hated it and that it was taking us over. We turned
away from one another, tuned in, and got lost.
I’m betting you can still download this note, copy it, share it, bust
it up and remake it, and that you do so while plugged into some sort of
electrical device you can’t live without -- so maybe you don’t think
that an apology for technology is needed and, if that’s the case, an
apology is especially relevant. The tools we gave you are fine, but the
apps are mostly bogus. We made an industry of silly distraction. When
our spirits hungered, we fed them clay that filled but did not nourish
them. If you still don’t know the difference, blame us because we
And sorry about the chemicals. I mean the ones you were born with in
your blood and bones that stay there -- even though we don’t know what
they’ll do to you). Who thought that the fire retardant that kept
smokers from igniting their pillows and children’s clothes from bursting
into flames would end up in umbilical cords and infants?
It just seemed like better living through chemistry at the time.
Same with all the other chemicals you carry. We learned to accept
cancer and I guess you will, too. I’m sure there will be better
treatments for that in your lifetime than we have today. If you can
afford them, that is. Turning healthcare over to predatory corporations
was another bad move.
All in all, our chemical obsession was pretty reckless and we got
into that same old pattern: just couldn’t give up all the neat stuff.
Oh, we tried. We took the lead out of gasoline and banned DDT, but
mostly we did too little, too late. I hope you’ve done better. Maybe
it will help your generation to run out of oil, since so many of the
toxic chemicals came from that. Anyway, we didn’t see it coming and we
could have, should have. Our bad.
There are so many other things I wish I could change for you. We
leave behind a noisy world. Silence is rare today, and unless some
future catastrophe has left your numbers greatly diminished, your
machines stilled, and your streets ghostly empty, it is likely that the
last remnants of tranquility will be gone by the time you are my age.
And how about all those species, the abundant and wondrous creatures
that are fading away forever as I write these words? I never saw a
polar bear and I guess you can live without that, too, but when I think
of the peep and chirp of frogs at night, the hum of bees busy on a
flower bed, the trill of birds at dawn, and so many other splendorous
pleasures that you may no longer have, I ache with regret. We should
have done more to keep the planet whole and well, but we couldn’t get
clear of the old ways of seeing, the ingrained habits, the way we hobble
one another’s choices so that the best intentions never get realized.
Mostly I’m sorry about taking all the good water. When I was a child
I could kneel down and drink from a brook or spring wherever we camped
and played. We could still hike up to glaciers and ski down snow-capped
Clean, crisp, cold, fresh water is life’s most precious taste. A
life-giving gift, all water is holy. I repeat: holy. We treated it,
instead, as if it were merely useful. We wasted and tainted it and,
again in a geological moment, sucked up aquifers that had taken 10,000
years to gather below ground. In my lifetime, glaciers are melting
away, wells are running dry, dust storms are blowing, and rivers like
the mighty Colorado are running dry before they reach the sea. I hate
to think of what will be left for you. Sorry. So very, very sorry.
I’m sure there’s a boatload of other trouble we’re leaving you that I
haven’t covered here. My purpose is not to offer a complete catalog of
our follies and atrocities, but to do what we taught your parents to do
when they were as little as you are today.
When you make a mistake, we told them, admit it, and then do better.
If you do something wrong, own up and say you are sorry. After that,
you can work on making amends.
I am trying to see a way out of the hardship and turmoil we are
making for you. As I work to stop the madness, I will be mindful of how
much harder your struggles will be as you deal with the challenges we
leave you to face.
The best I can do to help you through the overheated future we are
making is to love you now. I cannot change the past and my struggle to
make a healthier future for you is uncertain, but today I can teach you,
encourage you, and help you be as strong and smart and confident as you
can be, so that whatever the future holds, whatever crises you face,
you are as ready as possible. We will learn to laugh together, too,
because love and laughter can pull you through the toughest times.
I know a better world is possible. We create that better world by
reaching out to one another, listening, learning, and speaking from our
hearts, face to face, neighbor to neighbor, one community after another,
openly, inclusively, bravely. Democracy is not a gift to be practiced
only when permitted. We empower ourselves. Our salvation is found in
each other, together.
Across America this morning and all around the world, our better
angels call to us, imploring us to rise up and be as resilient as our
beloved, beautiful children and grandchildren, whose future we make
today. We can do better. I promise.