Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Ain't for the Polar Bears

It Aint for the Polar Bears
- a guest blog by John Ausiello

For those of you that do not know me (which of course is almost everyone reading this blog) I am a 36 year old physician in New York City who has become deeply passionate about global warming, energy and our environment. I was recently asked why I think such issues are important and what I may be doing about these problems. In future blogs (should I be lucky enough to write more) there will be ample time to address what I and others think can and should be done but today I would like to address the former question.

By now most of us have heard from the scientific community the litany of reasons why global warming is a threat. But the purpose of this blog is not to regurgitate such concerns point by point. Nor is it to sell anyone on the need to protect polar bears or other endangered species however invaluable such efforts may be. Instead, it is about a much more basic and personal reason why global warming is a concern of mine: his name is Alexander Ryan Ausiello, a little fellow who happens to call me daddy.

Alex is now 18 months old, happy, healthy and blissfully ignorant of all that may go wrong in the coming years. As a new parent I share the concerns that surely all young parents must. Is he ok when he coughs at night? Is he warm enough on a cold winter day? Is he growing and developing normally? Will he be vertically challenged his entire life like daddy?

My environmental concerns however have raised a whole new set of concerns perhaps unique to our generation. By the time Alex is 36, it is my fear that we may have squandered our opportunities to reverse global warming amidst our continued indifference. It is my fear that he may be stuck navigating life’s difficulties with the same outdated technology, wondering how billions will adapt to rising sea levels. Or his concern for endangered species may have become a reality as he lives slightly more alone in a world ripe with extinction. It is my fear that he may be entrenched in a world with far fewer options, with far greater threats and with far more uncertainties than the world inherited by his father. And it is my fear that he may have long ago abandoned the idea of parenting, thoughtfully refusing to bring another helpless child into an increasingly unstable world.

At the same time, as concerns for global warming are mounting and the citizens of the world are responding I have hope. By the time Alex is 36, I have hope that the world may have begun to cool thanks to the herculean efforts of his parent’s and grandparent’s generations. I have hope that Alex will be thriving in a world powered by renewable energy, wondering how we ever chose to burn oil to power our daily activities. That he will be in the early stages of a seemingly limitless adult life all made possible by the ingenuity and perseverance of the human spirit. And most importantly, I have hope that he too will have a son or daughter of his own, appreciating the raw emotion that can only come from staring into the eyes of your newborn child.

By the time Alex turns 36, it may be too late to make a difference, all the important decisions will have been made. I hope we have overcome our inertia and have chosen to act wisely. If so, I hope I am there with him to enjoy the dawn of a beautiful new day.

I hope.

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