Two cousins who I haven't seen in 25 years just showed up on my doorstep. It was weird. One looked like the ghost of his father. The other looked liked the ghost of her mother. "It's so good to see you," I told them. "Let's play catch-up. Where have you been all this time? Whatcha been up to?"
"We've been living in Hawaii -- on Maui. We just LOVE it there!" said one of the cousins over dinner at the Sizzler. Malibu chicken and shrimp. (I'm so proud of myself. I actually resisted the buffet dessert table.) "You really should come over for a visit," she said. And as we discussed all the old family skeletons -- my money-grubbing sister, our uncle who used to pimp for Conrad Hilton, the other uncle who pretended to be an Oxford scholar when he was actually the son of an Oklahoma migrant farmer, how my mother and father lived in the same house while I was growing up and didn't speak to each other for ten years, my other uncle who claimed to have had an affair with General Vandenberg during World War II -- I started dreaming about actually GOING to Hawaii.
Then it hit me. I had better go there soon! With global warming raising the world's ocean levels at an alarming rate, 20 years from now there probably won't even be any Hawaii left to visit. And Cousin Veronica and Cousin Harry will have to come back to the Mainland and move in with me!
PS: Speaking of ocean levels rising as the polar ice caps melt, we have started to lose many low-lying islands already. In the Marshall Islands, water has already begun to slowly creep up on the shoreline and the people there are already discussing alternatives such as relocating residents or building a seawall. "The cost of constructing a sea wall for one Marshall Island atoll alone has been estimated at one hundred million US dollars." I guess that's not going to happen.
And in Papua New Guinea, they are seriously considering changing their national anthem and adopting Johnny Cash's song "How high's the water, Mamma?" instead. According to my in-depth and scholarly...er...Google...research, "The effects of global warming are already becoming apparent in many of the outer islands of Papua New Guinea where the rising sea water level has spilled inland with a resultant detrimental effect on food gardens and crops."
So. It looks like I'd better start saving ASAP for my Maui vacation with the cousins while it's still possible -- and if the Bush Republicans (who keep telling us that global warming is just a big myth) still own the White House and Congress in ten years, they had better start designing a new 49-star flag.
PPS: I am truly afraid of global warming -- truly afraid. "The pollution that circles our planet," said a speaker at a recent KPFA town hall meeting, "has the same effect as keeping the windows on our cars rolled up on a hot day, trapping all the hot air inside. When we are stuck in the car with the windows rolled up and the sun beats down on us relentlessly, then we are in big trouble." That's scary, sure, but that's not what really frightens me.
What REALLY scares me are the implications of what my friend Jim just said. "We won't eat the perch or the catfish raised in a lake here -- we have to have cold-water fish brought in from half way around the world. No baby, the government is not responsible for this global warming mess. It is us. We are getting the world we demand and we vote politicians into office because they promise to give it to us. No, it's not Bush or Clinton or Reagan or even big business behind that curtain. It is us."
What really scares me? I am afraid that the only way to keep the seas from rising and swamping Hawaii and Tahiti and even Miami and BERKELEY (most of the world's population lives within 60 miles of a large body of water) is to drastically cut down on my lifestyle. No more cars? The end of suburbia? No more airplanes? No more electricity? THAT SUCKS EGGS!
From Charlie: Jane, remember Walt Kelly's Pogo? "We have met the enemy and he is us." [Yep. It's us all right. Would I rather give up my comforts now or live on a mountaintop in a tent full of cousins in 120 degree heat -- but in 20 years? That's a hard choice to make.]
From Joe T: Jane, the bayous of South Louisiana are flooding from rising sea water also and has crept very close to Houma, LA which is a major oil patch town for the Gulf of Mexico. Grand Isle, LA is using discarded Christmas trees every year to try and save it's shorelines.
And this is another eyewitness report. I saw it with my own eyes and talked to the locals who are losing their land to salt water intrusion. Highway 90 going west from the Huey P. Long bridge in New Orleans is also a victim. The last time I was through there about three years ago the state was raising the highway elevation by over two feet because of the flooding. For years the state tried to hold back the water with sandbags all year long but they finally had to take the other measures. This is over a twenty to thirty mile stretch of highway. Don't believe what the media reports. Most in that area are transplants and have absolutely no idea of what is going on.