policies that freeze and then quickly scale back the use of oil,
coal, and natural gas. I see multitudes of Americans >nally
inspired to conserve at home, their money-saving actions feeding and amplifying the whole process. I then see consumer and
governmental demand unleashing the genius of market systems
and technological creativity, accelerating everything until we as
a society are moving at geometric speed too, just like the climate,
and suddenly our use of dirty fuels simply disappears.
I can see my son coming of age in a world where the multiplier bene>ts of clean energy go far beyond preserving a stable
climate. No more wars for oil. No more mountaintops removed
for coal. A plummet in childhood asthma. A more secure, sustainable, and prosperous economy. Although there are surely
dark times ahead, I can see him living through them, living
deep into the twenty->rst century, when most of the lingering
greenhouse gases will have >nally dissipated from our atmosphere, allowing an orderly end to the geo-engineering process.
Best of all, I see spiritual transformation ahead. We simply
cannot make the necessary changes without being changed ourselves. Of this I am sure. With every wind farm we build, with
every zero-emission car we engineer, we will remember our motivation as surely as every Rosie the Riveter knew in the 1940s that
each rivet was defeating fascism. A deep and explicit understanding of sustainability will dawn for the >rst time in modern human
history, moving from energy to diet to land use to globalization.
We will know, >nally, that to live in permanent peace and
prosperity we must live in a particular way, adhering to a particular set of truths about ourselves and our planet. To borrow
from the great architect William McDonough, we will >nally
become native to this world. We will have lived through the climate threat, evolved through it, and our new behavior will
emanate from the very core of our humanity. a
Can we change in time? Is the glass half full? Share your thoughts
PAINTING l GUY NINDORERA, AGE 12, BURUNDI
On Turning One
Untidy balance of belly and diaper,
my daughter stands in our living room
and shakes a piece of wrapping paper
with everything she’s got,
the way a father shakes a pen
before he tries again to sign his name.
Earth has returned with its blue light
to the space of her beginning.
She looks up, surrounded by balloons,
satisfied we are not traveling to another
room or floating upstairs. We are exactly
where she keeps us spinning.
One year ago she lay on a metal scale,
felt with her small nakedness the air
empty of body. She cried her first cries
and the nurse said it was a good thing
and that she liked the name. It means life,
I said, keeping my hands from reaching
toward shivering fists, shut eyes, skin
pale as a mist out of nowhere.
Zoey squawks, reaching for more paper.
We look up as a tiny blur
zips from the sky, an iridescent pinprick
framed in the window, sipping sugar water.
This much we know. The name for the red shimmer
around this hummingbird’s throat
is gorget, which sounds like gorgeous.
And the electromagnetic radiation
touching it is light.