April 29, 2010
In my yard, and in much of northern New Jersey, maple seeds are falling. These seeds are ingeniously equipped with wings, one wing per seed, so that, as the seed falls, the wing rotates, helicopter-fashion, and is borne up by the wind; the point of this device is, clearly, to carry the seeds away from the parent tree as far as possible and allow for their widest possible dispersion, thereby increasing the chances of some of them taking root while at the same time making life easier for the parent tree. It is as good an example of teleology in nature as one could ask for.
Normally, I would greet these signs of continuing life with joy, even given the prospect of having to clean them out of the gutters. But this year I am somewhat troubled by their appearance. The house in which I currently live is the house in which I was raised, and I distinctly remember that, when I was young, these seeds would fall around the middle of May; I know this because it was around the time of my birthday, May 22nd, that I would sweep them off the back steps. It seems clear that the maple seeds are falling this year two to three weeks earlier than they used to. A friend of mine mentioned to me yesterday that he has noticed the same thing with respect to the dandelions on his lawn and the flowers in his garden. And, most strangely, we have had a series of thunderstorms here in March and April, something that I would normally associate with summer weather.
Take these observations for what they are worth; they are not scientific proof of anything. But they agree with an increasing body of evidence, from around the world, that suggests that the planet is heating up. For my own part, I accept global warming as a reality, I accept also the common view of climate scientists that human activity — the burning of fossil fuels — is largely responsible for it, and I think concerted action needs to be taken to change things, including, in the first place, a large-scale conversion to renewable sources of energy. Those politicians who work actively for such change have my support; those who deny the existence of the problem, or who do all they can to delay and undermine any effective response to it, do not.
In the Book of Revelation, after the blowing of the seventh trumpet (11:15), the four and twenty elders who sit before God on their seats fall on their faces and worship God, saying:
“We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:17-18)
If one claims to be committed to a “culture of life,” then one ought to be committed to stop global warming. There are no two ways about it.