Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Will We Tell Our Grandchildren?

I met some people from Tuvalu in New Zealand. The Tuvaluans lived in New Zealand because their island was underwater. Their island was a low coral atoll. The little bit of sea level rise that we already had at the time was enough to drown their island. The New Zealanders were on the nearest reasonably large body of land for the Tuvaluans, so they took them in.

That seemed like a nice generous thing for the Kiwis to do for the Tuvaluans. I think of that when I see something going on in Alaska in regard to the 180 + villages that are going to be underwater. 

The Tuvaluans were experiencing things that will happen to the Alaskan Natives from the soon-to-be drowned villages here. 

The Tuvaluans were having a feast and I somehow stumbled upon it. They invited me to join them. They were quite insistent about it, actually. I didn't have anything against joining them, but thought that  it was a sort of mourning of their loss and maybe they needed some privacy for it. They saw it otherwise.

They considered what they were doing to be a celebration that they had started a new, hopeful life. They were celebrating their culture and trying to keep it going in their new home. They were delighted to have a chance to share it with someone who was new to it (me). Once I understood that I enjoyed it.

They are lovely people. They are Polynesians and beautiful to look at and they do the graceful hula. Their type of hula is more like the Fiji style, kind of fast compared to the Hawaiian hula and they like to juggle flaming objects in the dark too. It is fun to watch. They make delicious food for days ahead of time for their feasts and especially like to do fire pits and roast a pig for days to get it flavorful and very tender.

They were a little worried during the feast because they were waiting to see if some of their young men were ok.

Their island comes back above the ocean for a short while during the summer. Just the highest parts stick up. There is not much room there, but some of the young men miss it and went back to fish and just be there, I guess. I think there were three or four of them that went. A couple had left earlier before it got too risky that a storm would cover the island entirely again. At least one had stayed just a little longer.

They had not heard from him and did not know whether he made it out alive in time. I never did get to know how that turned out. 

It is kind of like what is going on all over the world. We are going to have these sorts of things happening for all the rest of our lives. It will go on for at least ten generations. That would be if we were to immediately stop all the harmful things we are doing to make the climate change worse. We know that is not happening. That means more than ten generations will get this mess going on, and worse. A lot worse.

Ten generations is about two centuries. Have you ever tried to read something that was written two hundred years ago? They talk and seem to even think differently than we do now. It can be pretty hard work to figure out what they meant. 

How are we going to be able to explain to people two hundred and more years from now why they have to deal with horrible disasters because of what we are doing now? It might be pretty hard to explain that to children and grandchildren about that. We won't have to look those people in the eye two hundred years from now, but that will happen with the children and grandchildren. I expect some of them are beginning to wonder about it already. Maybe we had better get our stories straight now. They will probably have to be pretty good. It might be a tough audience.

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