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The Tipping Point: The Year 2030

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TIPPING POINT

THE YEAR 2030

 

A Novel by

Marvin Berenson

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Marvin H. Berenson

Published by Cove Books

Shakespir Edition

Cover Design: Douglas Berenson

 

 

 

The Twin’s Soul is a work of fiction. However, all writing regarding the climate is from scientific sources that clearly indicate how global warming is driving our country and the world to unprecedented planetary devastation. Most climatologists and scientists worldwide supported by replicated computer studies have verified the accuracy of the dangers of rising atmospheric CO2. A CO2 level of 450 ppm and a two degree Celsius temperature elevation are recognized as potential pivotal levels when the point of no return may be reached. It is difficult to find an exact correlation between CO2 and temperature and some scientists believe that a 2 degree C rise in temperature won’t occur until 2036 to 2040. Another factor is the widespread difference in temperature rise in different parts of the world. For example, the temperature in 2017 has risen twice as fast in the Arctic area and at times has temporarily reached much higher.

 

The names, characters, incidents, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. However, certain incidents and places that pertain to global warming are real and are part of the scientific elements that are present in this book. Others are fictitious and should be readily separated from the real events and places.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means or by information or retrieval systems without written permission of the author.

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

I dedicate this book to the countless number of individuals devoted to continuing to fight climate change in their efforts to overcome the effects of global warming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Ron Barrett peered at the cascading, blinding rain that beat incessantly at the large windows surrounding his living room. Darkness covered the flooded canyon below his home. The world around him had disappeared. Living on a mountaintop in Woodside, he had felt that he was above the world, safe, untouchable. Today, early in 2030, that sense of security had vanished and a strange foreboding crept into his mind.

“Why hasn’t this stopped?” he muttered to himself. “Five days already.”

Staring at the unrelenting rain as though it were an enemy, he felt a sudden urge to smash the window and face this strange specter directly. Terrified, he moved back from the window and began to tremble. Tears began to stream down his face and for a moment he thought the rain had invaded his home.

His wife suddenly called from the living room. “Ron, you’ve got to see this National Geographic special.” Mindlessly, he stumbled toward her voice and unnoticed by Audrey, he sat down, arms tightly held around his body trying to control his shaking. Tears continued unheeded. He looked at the TV, said nothing, just listened to the quiet, incisive voice commenting on scenes that needed no comments.

 

Ron grimly watched the camera pan over a small town in Virginia and saw the torrential river carrying houses, trees and cars swirling down the streets. Every street had become a river. Did the commentator say that over 40 inches had fallen in the past four days? “40 inches,” he murmured silently. “It’s happening so frequently.”

The program switched to Northern Maine where near hurricane winds were battering the drenched coast. The camera shifted inland presenting town after town, each strewn with broken homes, fallen trees, downed electrical cables and debris everywhere. Water covered everything. “I saw it happening. Why couldn’t I have found a way to stop it? All those wasted years. What did I do wrong?”

He shuttered as he noted that the visual description of the effects of a previous superstorm seemed to parallel the storm that now poured down on them. He remembered seeing pictures of the extensive flooding in Pakistan a few months ago. The entire country seemed to be flooded. “What have we done to our world?” kept running through his mind.

The camera was remorseless revealing devastating scenes of the impact of global warming that had appeared in recent months. It had its own life, almost like the hand of God savagely indicting the human race for its blindness in allowing this folly to become real. Almost sadistically, the camera focused on the southern part of India where hordes of people lay unmoving in the streets and parks and along dry parched riverbeds where water had once run. Some people shielded their eyes from the penetrating sun, others covered their heads with rags, yet others sat or lay quietly as though dead, lips parched, with no energy to get up and find water. Waiting, just waiting, wasting away, no longer caring. Their world had ended. Waiting was all that was left.

When the program ended, Ron burst into violent crying and Audrey seeing his pain hurriedly took him in her arms. “Ron, honey, I understand what you’re feeling.”

Ron uttered some gibberish, a strange look crossing his face as he looked outward and screamed, “I must stop it. I must do something. I must stop it. I must stop it.”

Audrey, alarmed and frightened, held her husband more tightly. “Ron, it’s not over. This can’t be the end. There must be a way of stopping it. Please try to control yourself. We’ll find a way.” Ron stared at the blank television screen and covered his eyes. With mounting fear, Audrey held him tightly, her own tears no longer separate from his.

 

Over many years Ron and Audrey Barrett had been at the forefront in the fight to control global warming. Holding almost desperately to the man she loved and with whom she had worked for so many years, Audrey recalled their meeting at one of Ron’s weekly lecture series opened to students and the public. Curiosity had motivated her to come hear him speak. She was deeply impressed with his eloquence and how he reached out to the audience.

That evening Ron’s lecture focused on the melting of permafrost and the increasing production of methane, the most potentially dangerous of the greenhouse gases. “Watch Greenland, Siberia and the intercontinental Arctic shelves for increasing methane production. Methane could become the scourge of the world,” he warned. Ron ended his talk with an inspirational directive that he would utter many times in the coming years. “Above all, no matter what is happening and at what level of warming we are and how close we might be to the point of no return we must never, never stop fighting to overcome this most insidious and frightening danger to our planet. Global warming must be controlled.” With his final words Ron reached across space into her eyes and they silently knew that they were meant to meet.

At two o’clock the following day, Audrey met Ron at his office. Just as she was about to knock on his door, it opened. Without words they fell into each other’s arms. As they later recalled that first meeting, they had fallen instantly in love with each other. He felt the urge to caress her dark blonde hair that cavorted down her shoulders. She wanted to caress his appealing face and run her fingers over his eyes and mouth. Her soft, appealing face and dancing, sparkling eyes drew him to her as they tightly hugged each other. Pictures of the world’s great beauties floated through his mind: Raphael’s Madonna, Leonardo’s St Anne and Botticelli’s Venus. After several meetings with Ron, she changed her Journalism major to Environmental Earth System Science. Shortly thereafter, they began to date and fell deeply in love. A year later, they were married. She continued her studies while embracing a new leadership role, finally earning her PhD in 2018.

Their relationship quickly assumed a pivotal role in the environmental world where his articles, lectures and her environmental poems brought them renown.

 

They had written and lectured extensively, repeatedly spelling out the dangers of the rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Continuing to burn fossil fuels, they warned, would inevitably lead to reaching the feared level of 450 ppm and its associated two degree Celsius rise in temperature. These levels had become associated with major climate instability. The current raging out-of-control weather was only the most obvious of the changes that had occurred.

People were starving and thirsty; corals were dead; mercury poisoning was rampant; wild fish were decimated; few remained alive in the oceans. Dustbowls in much of the world were so commonplace that breathing in dust, hiding from dust storms, carrying water and rags to wet and cover one’s mouth when the dust started to swirl were commonplace. Social violence, carrying knives and guns in public were so widespread that almost any fight could erupt into a killing spree. Streets were mostly empty at night as people became fearful of being accosted.

Small cars, many still running on natural gas and oil, but mostly hybrids and electric were rampant. The occasional large car was quickly vandalized and only used by government officials.

Global warming had become the engine of social and political destructiveness fed by hunger, lack of water, flooding of coastal lands, and appalling droughts. Almost no one openly doubted the cause being manmade. Countless marches in Washington that at times became highly inflammatory seemed fruitless. People’s anger rose and rose. Throughout the world in many countries hordes of people spontaneously erupted into violence threatening to bring down ineffective governments. A deep sense of gloom had settled over the planet.

People went along with whatever life they could manage wherever they lived. Canada had closed its borders to immigrants years earlier, as Americans stormed across the long borders to find refuge and work. Canadian lands once held in thrall to cold and ice had become warmer, and were becoming the breadbasket of the Americas.

The fertile central valley of California had long given up the claim as the most agricultural productive land in the country, succumbing to drought and a marked decrease in the water supply from the north. Throughout the world, vast changes had eroded governments and the hopes of countless people to find a satisfying life. Australia had become a vast desert. The Sahara had crept lower and lower toward the center of Africa.

In the widespread belief that the inexorable heating of the world would only worsen and life was hardly worth living, many cast caution aside and engaged in more unprotected sex. Little concern for the welfare of the newborn remained. The population continued to expand. The eight billionth child had been born five years earlier and doomsayers were now predicting 10 and 11 billion or more before the population binge would end.

 

Nothing stemmed the tide of the social upheaval that was taking place. Ron, desperately trying to hold on to a sense of reality, couldn’t stop his inner mind from being filled with visions of an endless, desolate, terrifying world. Civilization had become Hell. He stared at the horror that had been wrought. Nothing moved. Nothing lived. The feeling of death was everywhere. The television program, one of many seen in recent years was never as bad as reality revealed. His crying continued.

Where had they gone wrong? For years, the world looked to Audrey and him for hope and inspiration. People watched the CO2 edge up and every year Ron warned the governments of the world that time was running out. From the very first year in 2012 when he had stepped onto the world stage he had known that zero CO2 emissions was the goal needed to save our planet. And every year excuses, denial, the power of oil, ineffective rulers and frightened and even destructive, anti-climate change governments stopped any possibility of modifying the country’s energy structure. Ron fought unrelentingly against anyone, especially leaders, supportive of big oil, who openly opposed the validity of global warming. His articles revealed his anger at state and national leaders who encouraged the search for oil and gas instead of trying to reduce fossil fuel burning.

In the 2020’s renewable energy became widely used and Ron repeatedly said that such energy, though good and did not give rise to greenhouse gases, would have no impact on the ultimate future of the earth, as long as CO2 was being produced. His warnings went unheeded.

“Ron, what can I do to help you?

“I feel so useless,” he replied, still shaken by his experience. “All our efforts and the work of so many people never stopped the CO2 rise. Beginning in 2012, I should have been able to figure out a way to persuade the government to have started reducing the use of fossil fuels by 5 or 6% a year? That would have been enough, I believe, to have reversed the tide and today we could have been at the end of the rise to 450 and the worst dangers would have been averted.

“Imagine, now that we know what 450 is like, it is still almost inconceivable what lies ahead.”

“Yes,” Audrey concurred sorrowfully. “Honey, you did everything you could. If only the government had decided to reduce the use of fossil fuels slowly, it would now be so different.”

“Fat chance that could have ever happened,” Ron said derisively. “They weren’t apt to reduce it 5% or even 1 % a year, much less 10%. Even today, they don’t seem to get it. No point playing the “if” game. They didn’t do it and we now live with the consequences.”

“But isn’t there a chance that if the country made a massive effort to reduce CO2 production that we can still reverse it,” Audrey said, her voice more pleading than genuine.

“People have given up,” Ron said, grimacing, as his eyes darted at the black deluge pounding their home. “Everybody knows that much of the ice in the world has already melted. The West coast of the Antarctica is sliding into the ocean. Greenland is going down. The sea is beginning to rise more rapidly. Look at what has happened with the sea less than a foot higher and it’s going to accelerate, mark my word. The world’s going to Hell, Hell, hear me, “Ron screamed, even as he held his head and pressed his fists into his tear-laden eyes.”

Audrey shook with fear as she watched her husband breaking down. He pushed her away when she sought to hold him.

“Leave me alone. Just leave me alone.”

“Ron, you can’t give up. Not now. If we went on a program of desperation to finally bring the CO2 down that would help. The whole world knows you. They would listen.”
“Don’t kid yourself. It’s not going to happen. Look at the program we just saw. How can I be hopeful watching that? Knowing that 450 is not even a stop and pause station, anymore, I’m just plain scared. We’re on the way to 650, maybe 850 by 2100. Just imagine what the world will become as we move toward that date.”
“Ron, what’s happening to you? It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom,” Audrey said dejectedly. “Maybe the worst of what could occur can be stopped.”

“Audrey, don’t be a dreamer,” Ron said slowly calming down. “I can’t tolerate what is happening. I have never understood the government officials all over the world who refused to heed the truth even when it was obvious. They still sit on their hands and talk about the economic upheaval if they interfere with oil and gas production. Economic upheaval. What can be in their minds? What do they think is happening now?”
Audrey looked at her husband, whose tears had finally stopped, again standing and looking out of the window at the unrelenting sheets of rain battering the house. “God, we can’t stop now,” she thought. “What’s wrong with Ron? He has written so little in the past year. Has he really given up hope? He can’t. He just can’t.”

“Sweetheart,” she said tenderly, “You can’t stop writing. Your last four articles were excellent. Your article on the decline of the beautiful coral reefs was so informative. The one on population certainly made it clear that without some major intervention from the third world’s governments, as well as from the industrial world, especially including our own country, the world’s population will continue to rise. I thought it was the best article I have ever read on why the population continues to expand so rapidly and why it won’t stop without certain interventions.”

Ron looked wistfully at his loving wife and thought how much she made his life worthwhile. He must overcome his depression and growing doubts about the world’s future. He must never disappoint her. Their love had brought an inner realization that all his accomplishments were mere shadows in his life compared to the love he felt toward her and her love for him.

“I won’t stop. I promise you,” he whispered, as he took Audrey in his arms and gently kissed her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

In the early years of 2012 through a series of climate related articles and speeches, Ron Barrett had first stepped onto the world stage as a new leader in the growing movement to stop global warming. By the end of 2012 he had achieved worldwide recognition. At the age of 30, he was enjoying his third year teaching at Stanford University as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Earth System Science. Acclaimed as an enthusiastic and articulate teacher, as well as an ardent researcher and writer, his popularity had risen dramatically. His courses and lectures were always filled to capacity. He was developing a following among undergraduates and graduates.

 

His leadership abilities were already recognized in high school, where he excelled academically and as an athlete, proficient in both soccer and basketball with a promising future in sports. Tall, muscular, with smooth body movements likened to a gliding panther by a former coach, his ability to move quickly and act decisively made him formidable in sports.

In conversations he would look intently at whomever he faced. Striking, dark eyes seemed endlessly focused. Some friends had stated that he seemed to look inside you. Brown, tousled hair, never quite in place, sometimes fell down his forehead. He would shake it out of his eyes with a laugh; his infectious and appealing smile most characterized him.

At times anger or what might be better described as frustration or even disappointment would cause an unusual frown or scowl. No one had ever seen him become truly angry. An inner aggressiveness, however, was evident in his voice, when he would speak more rapidly or slow his words to put bite into his comments.

No one doubted that he was deeply passionate and had been seen to cry when something touched him deeply. One friend characterized him as a completely free individual and the most “tuned in” person he knew.

As an undergraduate at Princeton, international law and facilitating globalization were his major interests. Writing, however, was his passion and he took his degree in journalism. Like many young people, he had developed a strong interest in devoting his life to finding ways to overcome erupting social, political and environmental problems.

Both as an undergraduate and after graduating with a BA in journalism he had traveled extensively throughout the world, especially in the Far East. With his seasoned point of view, travelers eagerly sought his travel articles, with their interwoven themes of social and political discontent and the growing need for globalization.

By integrating intimate details about the various leaders of most developing countries, his articles took on the mantle of reading an insider’s view. Slowly, his ideas of improving the lives of citizens of third world countries interrelated with the obligations of the wealthy nations to help the unfortunate. He began to think of ways to change the world’s thinking. He believed that young people must find ways to stem the tide of the rapidly diminishing freedoms and economic disadvantages in all countries.

The impact of worldwide pollution on developing countries, much of which came from the advanced first world countries, as well as China and India, slowly directed his attention to the increasing danger of global warming. He began to realize that the rising temperature was a hidden death trap lying in wait to destroy the world. If the findings and prognostications of most of the world’s scientists were correct, the world was on a collision course with a future catastrophe.

Extensive research made him certain that global warming was no myth. The evidence was everywhere in the form of heat waves, enormous storms, rising seas, melting glaciers and increasing CO2 levels. Its acceleration was particularly alarming. At a certain unknown time, stopping global warming would become futile. At Stanford he found guidance and inspiration to pursue what became his life’s work and earned his PhD in Environmental Earth System Science in 2009.

As a young instructor at Stanford, he had the opportunity to build his knowledge base as he prepared lectures and gathered a group of enthusiastic followers to help spread his ideas. His papers attested to the breadth of his interests to change the detrimental impact of the social, economic and political problems of the world, but it was clear his primary interest lay in finding ways to overcome the dangers of global warming.

 

Shortly after meeting Audrey, Ron Barrett broadened his series of evening lectures to students and the public to cover the complexities of global warming. Knowledge was his key to fight the unrelenting scourge of climate change. Among his subjects were the connection of CO2 and the burning of fossil fuels, smog, acidification of oceans, the poisoning of fish by mercury from coal power plants and the causes of droughts. As his knowledge base increased, Ron became increasingly concerned with the widespread misinformation, out and out lying, brazen untruths and the presence of a large group of global warming deniers that constantly fought against climate control.

Lobbyists for the oil companies, conservative groups within the political parties and pseudo-scientists promoting false studies or lying about scientific studies stood at the forefront of deniers. Most disturbing were the large number of U.S. Senators and Congressmen who were among the most vehement deniers. Many who fostered lies and falsehoods also denied the fact that the earth was even warming, much less that it was caused by humans.

The rise of atmospheric CO2 from 280 ppm that had been the steady state of CO2 for thousands of years to the 393 CO2 ppm level in 2012 was viewed by deniers as strictly coming from natural causes. The facts that the rise occurred in less than 200 years and over half that amount had taken place in the previous 30 years were ignored. Ron, increasingly disturbed by such deception, decided to write another of his early pivotal papers on how people were deceived and how lies and misinformation led to false beliefs and improper actions. His paper “The Enigma of Duplicity” markedly influenced his future. Although he pointed out how lying and deception occurred in many economic and social areas, he especially emphasized how it affected global warming. This paper would be adopted for study in philosophy and ethics classes throughout the world. But even more important, Barrett introduced his ideas for a new environmental organization that would eventually become the most powerful environmental force the world had ever known, The Student Coalition for Climate Control.

In his lecture Barrett made clear that there is a fine line between truth and untruth. “We are being deluged with information and misinformation from a variety of sources to influence us to take opposing stands on climate change. Is the rising temperature strictly part of a natural weather cycle and thus burning or not burning fossil fuels would have minimal effect on the climate? Or is it the result primarily due to manmade fossil fuel burning?

“Whom do you believe? Sometimes it depends on what you hear or read. Sometimes it depends on your personal belief systems. Your truth may strictly be a personal truth.”

Ron went on to show how easily we are deceived and influenced by clever words and concepts. What is true for one can be untrue for another. What is real? Reality often depends on your point of view. Attitudes, biases, discrimination, knowledge, educational levels, cultural backgrounds, social position, and whether you had a good night’s sleep. Laughter from the audience gave Ron an opportunity to change subjects and to introduce his idea for a society of truth seekers focusing on global warming.

“In the past half year or so I have given a series of lectures on the subject of global warming, the pollution of the earth, the dangers to our health and especially the dangers to the planet. I have made my viewpoint clear. Unless we quickly find a way to slow and eventually stop the tide of greenhouse gases, our future is grave and the way of life we have today will disappear.

“Friends, together, we must take a stand. I am now urging interested students to establish a new environmental group to focus on finding sources of misinformation and develop ways to establish renewable energies and making them the basis for future energy needs. As a group, you will have strength and can spread your ideas and influence. You can become a new beacon of hope as you tackle negative forces that threaten our world.

“In that context, perhaps Stanford can become the leader in guiding other universities toward similar efforts.

“I will act as advisor to any group, if called upon. I want the students to have total autonomy, but also to realize that they have my backing and availability.

“In conclusion, I want to emphasize that global warming has become a buzz word, a stimulus for emotional reactions and a repository for vast amounts of information and misinformation. We must never forget that all of us are susceptible to being mentally influenced and manipulated and it requires constant personal self-evaluation to remain relatively free of such influences. Being part of a group of like-thinking individuals will help all of us stay in the same ballpark of truth. Remember, truth and untruth sometimes walk hand in hand. Don’t hide. You will know your own truth. You can be your own best teacher to understand the real reality.

“To me the undeniable need to establish climate control is the single most important social, environmental and political issue in our lives. I believe we are in a crisis. We will always keep our minds tuned to reality and not pretend that we have all the answers much less the so-called real truth. However, one thing is clear. Global warming must be stopped. And the time to start is now.”

 

From its beginning in a public lecture, The Student Coalition for Climate Control was born. From a single environmental organization housed in Stanford the Coalition became a worldwide phenomenon. In a few years almost every university and college in the United States had a chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

Ron’s exposition on truth established what would become a cherished value for his followers. Transparency, openness and a willingness to discuss all issues regarding his stand on global warming stalled many attacks attempting to impugn his judgment, understanding and direction.

Audrey and Ron tackled the formidable problem of overpopulation, the rising sea, floods, vast storms, dust bowls, scarcity of food and water, loss of fresh water fish, melting glaciers, the rise of dead zones, the rising might of jelly fish and smog and its string of related illnesses such as asthma—all from the advancing temperature.

A month after meeting Ron, Audrey wrote her first article in the form of a poem that became her singular method of communication. Over the years, Audrey wrote many articles but it was her poems and their video presentations on YouTube that brought her fame. When she completed the poem and presented it to Ron for his reactions, Audrey described how she was bathed in tears, as the poem came tumbling out of her.

 

I AM MOTHER OF ALL CHILDREN

 

How will children live in the 21st century?”

I am mother of all Earth’s children,

I speak for women. I speak for womanhood.

I am old, old beyond my years.

I see the future for all suffering babies, babies not yet born.

And what I see grieves me, grieves me deeply.

 

I am angered by the world’s blindness to the changing climate,

I am angered by the growing disaster that lies in the future for our children.

The world says wait that the world will improve,

Wait, they say and you will see the future differently.

Wait. Wait. Wait they say.

 

I am close to the threshold of motherhood and I feel afraid.

I see darkness ahead lit by the lightning flashes of raging storms.

I look in vain for the sun.

I only see the storms that blight our lives,

Blocking the light so we no longer see.

 

Darkness shrouds our view and buries our minds.

We are not meant to see or fight or know.

We are to lie in our coffins before our time.

Buried like dead without words to sound.

I look for one to cast aside the darkness and open our eyes.

No one appears.

Is there no one there?

 

Before the darkness, I saw the blackened smoke of carbon rising everywhere.

I watched long pipelines snaking across the country everywhere.

I saw derricks tall and eerie and their whirling drills everywhere.

I heard the creaking of the fractured rock deep within the earth everywhere.

 

I witnessed the ocean spewing forth gaseous plumes into the atmosphere.

I watched the increasing density of the gases that block the earth’s heat from escaping.

I felt the heat shifting back to the earth.

I felt the heat. I felt the heat. It burned.

I felt suffocated. I breathed pain.

 

Far away beyond the reach, I spied rows of whirling wings.

Simple blades on a long popsicle stick endlessly moving in the caressing wind.

Wind that brings forth surges of unheralded power,

Power to turn the turbines that give birth to the power to run our world.

But it is so little and so far away. So tempting.

Why do they hide them from me?

 

I saw as far as my eye could see, sheets of glistening mirrors,

Mirrors pouring energy into black boxes that crackled in a delightful electrical voice. How I loved that sight, but so few; they are invisible,

Gone, gone in the blackness of the night.

Is it too late? Too late.

 

I waited in line for the ballot box holding in hand the papers of truth.

I voted for truth. I voted for words that said, “Awaken.”

I heard many words and I heeded them.

But words without action are just symbols of the night,

Covered by the blackness that has come and dissolved truth,

Truth as though never seen and never heard.

The light has vanished, thrust into an unknown space covered by blackness.

 

I go to a podium high on a box and scream out my lungs.

People listen and nod and agree and then shuffle away as they return to sleep.

To sleep?

Aye, to sleep.

 

Am I daunted? No, never. Do I cry out and rage from powerlessness.

No. No. No.

The blackness lies ahead but behind it is a new dawn.

We will lift the blanket that covers it.

The future lies with me.

My blackness has yet to come.

We must never let it stop the coming dawn.

 

I am the mother of all children.

I am their protector.

I can’t let their future die.

I can’t. I won’t,

The children must have a future,

Or they too will die.

Women, I implore you, rise with me,

And give our future back to our children.

Take my hand, we go together.

 

Ron loved the poem and felt it would touch not only all women but many men as well. He suggested she send it to the Stanford Daily and also directly to the San Francisco Chronicle and see if they would accept it. Audrey did as Ron suggested. That night when Audrey went to bed she never envisioned how her life was about to change.

 

Two days later, the Chronicle contacted her saying they were going to publish it on the Op-Ed page the following week. Later that day, the Stanford Daily editors read the poem and immediately contacted the video and entertainment departments to evaluate the potential of creating a video based on the poem. Being a student at Stanford added to the interest in her first poem. Everywhere it stirred excitement.

Several days later, Audrey’s video was completed and uploaded to YouTube. Within minutes, it seemed, it began to spread virally. In the first day alone, there were over 20,000 viewers. Within a week, that number would swell to over a million. Stanford went ballistic. Audrey was smothered with congratulations wherever she went. On the strength of this one video, Audrey was invited to appear on the “Today’s Show”, “Good Morning America” and “CNN” for interviews. Her appearances on television were electric. Everyone wanted to see her, adopt her, marry her, touch her. History has since recorded that her ascending star began with that video that would lead to her becoming one of America’s most beloved women.

The artistry and care that went into producing Audrey’s first video was now viewed as representative for future environmental videos. One such description captured in words the visual experience.

“Against words of smoke pouring into blackened skies, oceans releasing plumes of gas, an invisible sun, unrelenting storms and ever-present darkness, the designers brought forth a view of nature that paralleled the reading. Audrey was filmed in different poses. As she walked through a forest or on a beach or in a national park; her dark blonde hair whirled and spun around her delicate, sensitive face. Her natural beauty captivated many who watched her.

“The background alternated with beautiful sights from around the world even as the poem unfolded with the desolation of drought, impoverished people, blackened skies, darkness everywhere and vast deserts that seemed to go on forever.

National parks with beautiful pictures known worldwide were suddenly divested of those sights. Instead, a bleakness and emptiness stared back at the viewers. Somehow each picture fit the words spoken by Audrey, at times sad, at other times more optimistic. There were pictures of beautiful children playing in parks among trees and children alone looking out on a vast desert. Beaches filled with soft white sand and the same beach now black and strewed with rocks.

Nor did the designers overlook the beauty of coral and the myriads of colored fish that called it home and then the view changed and the coral became bleached and dead and empty of fish. Nothing remained. Audrey’s words and the artists’ pictures told a story that touched the hearts of countless viewers.

At the bottom of the video were instructions for interested people to contact Stanford’s Climate Group, representing the Student Coalition for Climate Control. Thus Audrey’s poem became the first national advertisement for the Coalition.

 

Two days after Audrey’s poem became available on YouTube Ron wrote a brief paper describing the purpose of the Student Coalition. His eloquent words brought further interest in the new organization.

 

“The Student Coalition for Climate Change stands in the forefront of new organizations to help control global warming. We share a dream, a dream of hope that we can help ignite the awakening of the people of our country to the dangers of global warming. We are part of a vanguard of enlightened people determined to fight to overcome the clearly evident threats that lie ahead for our beautiful planet and for our vibrant civilization.

“The war we’re fighting is for our own world. We are the young. We’ll be here near the end of the century. We are the ones most affected but everyone is and especially our children whose lives go on after us. It’s not just one century of danger, but beyond. Most of what we have today will long be gone. What remains is not clear but the world will be vastly different. With a predicted rise of CO2 to 650 ppm, 850 or higher the future is unprecedented. What does it mean? No one knows. This is your century. Can we allow this to happen?

“Today, you, the young students from every part of America and in every major institution of learning, are the new leaders.

“I am always here for consultation and guidance. I strongly believe that you will be the vanguard of a growing power that will topple the forces that oppose us. We fight to overcome misinformation and deception. We fight to prevent our world from being taken away. We fight for our sanity and for the sanity of our children. We fight to preserve our beautiful planet. We fight for truth. We fight because we must.”

“It will take all of us, every student in the country, to become part of a movement that will have the power to finally slow up and eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This can’t be just a dream. It must become real.”

 

As is well known, Audrey’s first video and Ron’s talk on video became the two-pronged announcement that precipitated the avalanche of interest in the Student Coalition.

 

Stanford was overwhelmed with colleges clamoring for information about joining the Coalition. Ron made himself available to talk to any interested student who desired to do so. A potential bottleneck in opening the doors to all the colleges was averted by the father of a member of the Student Coalition’s committee, a dedicated and wealthy environmentalist, who immediately funded two secretaries and opened an office in his own company to accommodate the widening interest.

The broad interest was explosive. The Coalition was ecstatic. Universities urged their students to get on the bandwagon. How many of us remember that within days, rock concerts with famous rock bands were in the planning stage. Actors and directors gave enthusiastic support and offered assistance to support the group and contribute all revenue to the Coalition. Overnight, the Coalition had funds to expand, hire others, start a movement to introduce the ideas to high schools and eventually to grade schools. The words “misinformation” and “deception” and “blatant lies” took on new meaning and were passed around the Internet.

From this early beginning, other countries got into the act. Hundreds of students from Europe, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Israel were the first of the young people outside the country that wanted in. Soon the number was in the thousands and would eventually number in the millions. Joining the Coalition became a vehicle of belonging, a badge of connection and the belief that they were now working to save their world.

Other papers joined the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle as part of a vanguard of public support. Writers, environmentalists, and ordinary citizens offered ideas and suggestions. It appeared that the world was awakening. Today we know that the awakening was only partial and eventually a new slumber closed the eyes of the powers that could have changed our future.

 

In the midst of this exciting period as the Student Coalition grew rapidly, Audrey awakened one morning from a terrifying nightmare that the world had come to an end. In her diary, she wrote that all the stars went out, the ocean dried up, the world was littered with skeletons. “I felt I was completely alone, everyone was gone. The world no longer existed. I was terrified. It seemed so real.” Audrey wrote that she had broken down and wept.

 

Even as she cried she felt that the dream predicted the future. From her fear came the idea for a new poem. Immediately going to her computer she wrote without pause, without thinking, following her terror and letting her tears flow unheeded. This poem, also was uploaded to YouTube as a video made by the same team that created her first. It would soon spread across the country.

A YOUNG WOMAN IN ANGUISH

 

I’m a young woman in deep despair,

Watching the fading lights of hope,

Fearing to lose a world that I deeply love,

Will its beauty and goodness just disappear?

 

No one tells the stars to shine or the moon to glow or the birds to fly or the fish to swim.

No one tells the hummingbird to dip its beak into the flower to find nectar’s delight,

No one tells the dolphin to leap with joy in enchanting ocean play.

No one tells my mom to hug my dad or squeeze my hand in love’s way.

 

Polar bears didn’t ask the ice to go away and hide.

Or to die when all the seals to eat were gone.

Walruses didn’t wish to swim in vain to find a beach to rest,

No one tells the salmon to search in blind folly for the spawning river that no longer runs, Where it was born and where it must go to spawn.

No one tells the clouds to flood the prairies and towns without end.

 

Who told man to change the weather, change my day and change my night?

Who told man to take away my future and leave only blight.

Over and over I heard the refrain, I did not know, I did not know.

But now you know.

You have changed our weather. You have destroyed our world,

Now you know. You are the ones who took away our light.

 

Where are the women to stem the tide, to stop the flow?

Where are the women to bring change where men fear to go?

 

Mother of Heaven, mother of earth, protect us from the deeds of men.

Protect us from the savagery that is destroying the beauty that once was.

And will be no longer.

 

Can we women rise against the men we have loved?

Can we rise against the men who are destroying our world and our children’s world?

Can we hate the men who don’t care and told us lies?

Men who say that we will be better in heaven and earth is hell.

As though they know and as though it matters.

Our world has become crazed with its own demise.

 

Oh dear God, protect us from madness,

Protect us from evil,

Protect us from death.

Protect us from such folly.

 

Man is cultivating our final days.

Men listen; we love you.

Your false beliefs have covered your eyes,

Tear them from your face, tear them from your heart.

Do not falter. You must rise up and see the world you are creating.

Sacrifice your beliefs. Never stop your efforts to save us, those you say you still love. Save the souls of your loved ones, your wives, children and mothers.

 

You have brought forth the deadly heat that will soon submerge all to a life of Hell.

Is that what you want for us?

Children of all ages rise, fight for what is right, fight for your truth.

Fight for our truth. Fight for the only truth. For what is right.

 

Fight the men, your fathers and your brothers, who in self-deception, opposed the good.

They have forfeited your love for they care not for tomorrow’s world.

The world they forsake is the world for our children, for their children.

What have they done? My God, what have they done?

 

Father, brother, what have you taken away from your children?

Soon they will curse the fathers who have forsaken them.

Where has your love gone? Where has it gone?

Rise up, rise up. We will rise with you.

Together we can defeat this curse of mankind and bring life back to our planet.

Rise up. Rise up, Please, dear God, rise up.

I beseech you, rise up.

 

Audrey sent the poem directly to the Stanford Daily, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times. It was accepted, published and syndicated in over 400 newspapers. The public grasped it and wept. Woman rose up and wrote letters to the papers screaming at the men who defiled them and praying for delivery from their evil ways.

Many men joined these women supporting their cries of rage and urging men to stand as a group behind them and help take back our planet. Many others were silent and some railed against the one-sided attack they said was fed by the ultra liberal press. But the voices that dared oppose Audrey’s words were overwhelmed by the rising outrage as large numbers of people awakened to the dangers to our civilization and prayed for change.

A few weeks later, the Chronicle wrote an article raising Audrey into the firmament as the new voice of young women everywhere who had risen to protect our planet. With unrelenting zeal, the creative team who had produced her first video completed the new one. Almost instantly, upon being uploaded, it went viral. Audrey’s name spread more widely. Young girls wanted to emulate her. In a short time, women formed clubs and study groups to learn about global warming and the dangers to their lives and to the earth. The country was continuing to awaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Venturing on their first vacation together, Ron and Audrey briefly visited Carmel, that gave rise to one of the most beautiful and devastating poems that Audrey was to write.

After checking in at the Lobos Lodge, taking a short walk through the charming streets of Carmel and eating lunch, Ron said, “We must hurry. We need to go to Point Lobos State Park for your first day. It is one of the most beautiful and magical places that I have ever seen.”

They started their Point Lobos exploration by hiking to the Allan Memorial Groove and Pinnacle Cove. Monterey Cypress trees dotted their trail. Each step brought murmurs of awe from Audrey. Her view of the huge rock formations stirred her dreams and awakened fears that this beautiful place might someday be lost. Leaving Pinnacle Cove they slowly drove to the Bird Island Trail that would lead to the top of China Cove.

The walk upwards was enchanting to Audrey. At every turn, another view of the park brought out new cries of delight. Part way up she had her first view of China Cove, a small emerald colored cove that nestled in a mountain carved, it seemed, just to hold this tiny jewel. At the top of the trail, they came to the beginning of the long wooden stairway that led down to the small beach.

The beach was empty. They would be alone. Audrey stood in wonderment as she looked down at the tiny perfect beach that awaited their descent. A powerful urge to sit on the beach and let the water curl around her feet pushed her to begin the descent.

Together, they took off their shoes and socks and sat on the beach. The slow moving tide came to tickle their feet, so softly, as though not wanting to disturb their tranquility and peacefulness. They held hands and felt their consciousness leave to be replaced by the rapturous sound of the water lapping at the tide’s end. So quiet, it seemed the world had ended. Yet each heard clearly the clarion call of the endless sea seeking new grounds to enter.

Even as they meditated through closed eyes, each imagined the surrounding rocks and felt the roar of sadness rumbling from the ocean. Both realized that all this would one day be covered. All the beautiful coves in the entire world would disappear. Gone. Gone forever.Ron just took her hand. Audrey glanced at his face and knew what he was feeling. “I know this must pain you,” she murmured.

“Yes,” he now responded. “One of the most beautiful sights in the world. One of the wonders of the world. This has risen from the depths of the ocean. Will the ocean take it back?”

Later, as she was writing her poem she distinctly recalled Ron’s words, “I can’t imagine that this beach will soon disappear as the ocean continues to rise. How can we let it happen? Such beauty must be saved.”

He wrapped Audrey in his arms and softly said, “I love you. We’re going to make this world come alive again. It will be my gift to you and to the children of the world.” He held her quietly, suffering with the doubts and fears that suffused his mind.

“So much to do and so little time. I’ll help you give me this gift,” Audrey said, struggling to hold back her tears.

“I don’t want to dwell on what is ahead,” Ron said, “We’re in one of most beautiful places in the world. I love it. It must remain for the future. We must stop global warming.” He held her more tightly as he kissed her, a soft, blending kiss that seemed to seep into their inner selves until their bodies disappeared into the ocean that wrapped around their feet. “This is ours. This belongs to us,” he whispered.

For some interminable time they remained blended in body and spirit until as one, they knew it was time to rise and continue their exploration of nature’s fairytale kingdom. Without looking back, they walked up the stairs and continued on the trail. They curved toward their right and looked down at Gibson Beach enclosed by another much larger cove.

Now Audrey saw the true dreamlike enchantment of Point Lobos as she gazed down at what appeared to be magical apparitions conjured out of enormous rock formations. The largest of the group carved by water seemed to sail unfettered alongside the coastal mountain. Like a Viking ship it appeared to come out of an unknown world. As they walked looking down at this masterpiece of nature’s art, Audrey let out a cry of joy. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to leap on board and the two of us just sail across the seas?”

Then she shuddered, “Will this also disappear when the sea gets high enough?”

Ron just took her hand and did not reply directly.

“I just want to enjoy this weekend away with you. I love you. But I think of children, perhaps our children, not being able to come here.”

Audrey whispered, “I love you and I believe in you.” In her heart, however, Audrey feared for the future. How can we or anyone stop what is happening? What if we can’t stop it? Her body quivered, defying the silence. “Ron,” she whispered, “such beauty can’t disappear, it just can’t.”

When they finally said good-bye to this wondrous park, they whispered to some unknown deity or power or universal god to protect the earth and all the China Coves and keep it for the people who will come later and know the beauty of the world. She knew that from her tiny self came a wish of such power that for a brief moment she believed, believed with her entire being, that the world would remain viable.

Even as she heard her words, she knew that simultaneously she was being overwhelmed with such strong negative beliefs about the inevitability of global warming destroying our world that she cried out of sheer frustration. Her belief in Ron was not sufficient to stop the dread of the ending of our civilization. She struggled to regain her beliefs.

Out of this fateful struggle came ideas for another poem that would one day come to represent the beliefs of countless women and many men who would rise up to fight the oppression of global warming. Several days of gestation lay ahead before this poem would be born.

Sunday morning before returning to Palo Alto they slowly traveled through

the stirring and beautiful 17 mile Drive. After lunch at the Inn of the Spanish Bay they returned to Palo Alto. The music of Chopin’s First Piano Concerto filled their ears but Audrey dwelled on her fears of the future spurred to consciousness by her, as yet unwritten, poem endlessly churning in her mind. She tried to retain light and beauty but blackness and the debris of pollution overwhelmed her.

Everything is beautiful and so alive, she thought. Nature will feel its loss as the water rises to cover the world. Audrey in her zeal to turn back the clock to a time when there was no danger had become a captive of her fears. The power in her poem was unconsciously distorting her feelings. Instead of being part of this world today, she had become encumbered by a frightening future. But wasn’t that her purpose to be working with Ron. I want others to feel what I feel so together we can do something to stop what I fear.

 

The first morning after their return home, as dawn announced a new day, Audrey suddenly opened her eyes, frightened and trembling. Ron immediately awakened and took her in his arms. “Darling, I awakened from another of my dreams. I was so scared. It was about the end of China Cove.”

“The end?”

“Yes. Actually when I was there I already had fears of what the rising sea would do to that beautiful place and it disturbed me. I guess I’m really scared that something in the future will take it away. Just thinking about it terrifies me. Ron, what can we really do? Sometimes I feel so hopeless, that nothing we’ll do will make any difference. We’re just two little people in a gigantic world. How can we make the world wake up?”

Ron just held her, not knowing what to say to reassure her. He fully understood her feelings. Maintaining optimism and doing as much as they could, helped, but he wasn’t blind to the incredible problems that lay ahead. And there was so much opposition. He grimaced trying to shake these doubts. He must not ever give up hope nor believe that their efforts were meaningless. There is always the possibility of change. He heard the refrain echo in his mind. Nothing is impossible.

Quieting down, Audrey went into her study and wrote down her new poem. When it was complete she printed out a copy and put it on Ron’s desk.

 

China Cove. Where have you gone?

 

In the wild craggy meandering of the California coast,

Lies a world so filled with magic that it triggers disbelief,

When people look out at the mystical land jutting out to sea,

They weep in utter joyfulness that such a sea-land connection be.

 

They call this meeting of sea and land the greatest ever made.

Point Lobos is the name.

Revered in wonder for those who came and saw,

And fell under its spell as I did one day that I remember well.

 

That day in the park wandering and hearing the crashing sea,

I came upon a cove so pure I stared at it with joy,

Pulled by forces no longer mine, I started to walk the long steps down,

To the beach below where I went to sit and listen to the sound,

On the blanket of sand called wondrous China Cove.

 

I looked out on the world where fish frolicked and played.

And saw an island green,

Home to the birds who sang and loved, it stood above the land.

I watched the tide come to my feet as I gazed out at granite rocks,

A sea lion gamboled in openings that the sea had mysteriously made.

 

I smiled as the water slowly rose and tickled my welcoming feet,

Such beauty and peace touched deep within my soul,

As I fervently prayed to the creator this land forever keep,

For if it goes, lost to the world, then I will only weep.

No longer alive for I, too, will have left this world deceased.

 

I looked again and the water had come and flooded all the land,

My body lay beneath the ocean that came and buried the sand.

Water had come where water was not and taken the beach away.

Tears came to my eyes as I pondered what had gone irretrievably lost.

The seals no longer frolicked and fish no longer swam.

The birds despaired and flew away to live another day.

 

Once more I looked from the steps that led to this beguiling cove.

There was no beach nor place to sit nor place to rest my soul.

I looked out upon the rocks that surrounded the cove before,

The carved openings that came through the rocks had closed forevermore.

 

The sea was hungry and swallowed all as it relentlessly rose on high,

Soon the world will be awash, the water hiding all,

Not only beaches, but homes and lands and forests will disappear,

Beneath the waters will be a world known only to the fish that care.

 

The Arctic and Antarctica have also gone as their ice has melted away.

Now all we see is black rock or nothing is there at all.

In other sites lie desolation and drifts of moving sand.

The world has changed and people no longer wish to sing and dance,

Alone they sit in shadows of gloom and weep through all the days.

 

They raise their fist in crying shame and anger beyond belief.

They cry out at their parents, grandparents and those who came before.

Why didn’t you stop what was to come?

Why didn’t you act in time?

You knew before this day arrived that our world was doomed and lost.

 

You saw it worsening day by day and closed your eyes to all,

It was not only the atmosphere that blocked the heat,

It was your mind that closed to what you saw.

The world was changing, clear to all, but you followed your own law,

“The world is all right,” you shouted loud even as you watched it fall.

 

We beseeched you and cried to no avail,

To no avail, I say.

Why didn’t you stop when you could? You saw it long before.

You knew. You knew, my God, you knew,

You let blindness and deafness prevail.

 

Listen, my friends, for you too live in this world with me,

You will know this as I now do and God help the children who see,

They will see it with frightened eyes, worsening as time moves on,

You, our parents, bequeathed them all, a truly living Hell.

They will live in a world so desolate that you knew was soon to come.

The shame of you and the shame of all is written in their hearts so deep.

For where beauty was, is only death, no beaches to sit and weep.

 

I cry alone under oppressive heat unable to move or stand.

Oh, dear God, have pity on me for all I do is cry,

I hold my head and no longer feel the tears that burn my soul,

Only shame to show as I try to bury my fears.

How can I live and feed myself on a dying land?

A knife is poised above my heart trembling in my withered hand.

 

This poem must end or I will go mad for what am I to do?

The time has passed when the beach was there where I once stood in awe,

Knowing I did not stop the plight, stopped it when I could.

All who can listen, you must take heed for these are not idle words,

We must stop what we see, while China Cove remains alive this day.

While China Cove is a beach of sand where fish can come and play.

 

This folly must end. The time is now,

Before the curtain comes down.

The time is now before the lights go out as we take our final bow,

We must stop it, stop it, stop it,

Stop it, while we can.

Stop it, while we can.

 

Ron returned for the dinner that Audrey was preparing. Going into his study, he saw her poem. And read it. And read it again. When he came out his face was ashen and tears fell unheeded down his face. “My God, sweetheart, what did you write,” were his first words. “You must publish it immediately. It is devastating. I saw and felt the loss of our beautiful world. The world must read it.”

Audrey clung to him. She cried for his deep pain and for the fears that gripped her soul.

They ate quietly listening to the soft, sad Nocturnes of Chopin. “Darling, our trip to Carmel has changed me,” Audrey said softly. “It was the realization that we could lose China Cove and all the China Coves in the world that finally penetrated my mind. With all my involvement in working with you and just being around you, global warming was still only two words buoyed by the history and science of weather change.

“Sitting on the beach at China Cove global warming became a sword hanging over my head. I waited in dread for the rope that held it to be cut and it would fall upon me. While sitting on that beach the rope was cut.”

Later that evening, Audrey sent the poem to the Chronicle and the New York Times. Over 600 newspapers eventually published it. It was a literary sensation. Women and men wept and swore to make changes in their use of energy. The world was slowly awakening and the oil giants began to hear the winds of change shaking their foundations.

Feeling great urgency, her video team, in a few days, put her new poem into its final form with Audrey’s soft and eloquent voice reading her words as though she were sitting on the China Cove beach. As the water rose and swirled about her, the words she spoke became fainter. With her last words, China Cove had disappeared; her body buried in the rising water, the birds and seal lions and seals had disappeared. Only the sea remained as it rose higher and higher. The doleful strains of Mahler’s Adagietto from his Fifth symphony played as the video came to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

Early one morning Audrey awakened startled by a strange dream that an enormous hand had picked up the earth and was shaking it to awaken the world to a terrible change ahead. The world was on the verge of breaking up and all must now find new ways to live. She wrapped herself around Ron who was beginning to stir.

“Another nightmare?” he softly asked as he responded and tightly held her.

After describing the dream, she said, “I know what it means. I’ve been scared that all our efforts are useless. That it is too late to control global warming.”

Ron grimaced, “Most people concerned with the increasing global warming are worried about the same subject. There is a point in time when it will be too late but I don’t believe we’ve reached it.”

“Ron, why don’t you write a paper and explain it and how we’ll know when it will occur,” she said as moved slowly against his body.

Still holding tightly to each other Ron felt Audrey’s body soften as he kissed her. The awakening of passion quickly swept them into a world where all else disappeared. For a brief moment they had become free of their everyday concerns. A consuming love had become their world. Freely roaming hands, touching everywhere, tiny bites, unfettered sounds, losing all sense of consciousness, drawn by a frenzy of arousal, they joined together in nature’s rhythm that finally culminated even as they once again kissed. As their passion ebbed they remained locked in each other’s arms and for a brief period fell asleep.

 

A week later, as 2012 was nearing its end, Barrett wrote a fundamentally important, if not essential, article that would bring to the attention of the public a crucial fact that could determine our future, one known to climate scientists for many years. He wrote in question form as though the people of the world were awakening to the possibility that humankind would no longer control their destiny. He remembered Audrey’s dream and fulfilled her wish.

 

Tipping Points, Global Warming and the Future of Civilization

 

What is a tipping point? The tipping point or point of no return is a time in the future when the production of CO2 reaches a level when it will be too late to stop the rapid rise in global warming and the deadly increase of temperature that accompanies it. What does it mean there is no turning back? Do we really mean that there is nothing that can be done? Yes, that is the current thinking.

Under known technology, there is a time ahead when global warming will accelerate and all efforts to control the burning of fossil fuels will be of no avail. In a sense, global warming will have taken on a life of its own. Atmospheric CO2 and the temperature of the planet will increase more rapidly, which would intensify the heating of the earth, which would release more CO2 and it goes on. The feedback will be unrelenting.

How do we know when we have reached a tipping point? There is no sudden announcement. It doesn’t wave a flag. If we recognize it has happened, it is already too late to do anything. That in itself would be catastrophic.

Is it signaled when certain events occur?

Would the sudden increase in the breakdown of the permafrost in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska be one? Or do we need to wait until the melting is obviously accelerating and the production of methane is rapidly increasing. Or when the Arctic ice has disappeared or is on the verge of disappearing? Maybe you prefer to watch the calving of the icebergs in the Antarctica. Will it be apparent when there is a rapid increase in the number and power of hurricanes or increased drought or desertification?

Another possibility may occur when there is a sudden acceleration of the rise of atmospheric CO2 when instead of just 2 ppm per year increase, it become 3, then 5, maybe 8 or 10 ppm. That would be scary since it would mean that whatever was happening, the acceleration of global warming was proceeding faster than anyone anticipated. Perhaps the tipping point occurs when a certain ppm number is reached. 425, 450, 500, how about 400. Are we already there? How would we know?

Would we, for example, know that the tipping point had passed an hour ago, or a week, a month, a year, a decade or longer? Whenever it is, it doesn’t make an announcement. Scientists admit that no one really knows what will initiate that moment when nothing more can be done to change the runaway temperature or at what level we have passed it. Does it mean there is nothing to do? Are we playing a futures game with a deadly future?

Unfortunately, we’ll only know we have reached the tipping point when the effort to reduce the rise in CO2 is attempted and the rise in CO2 ppm continues up. We must find a way to know before that happens. Will we have to wait for years or decades to determine that we had reached that point long ago? What will be the proof that we have hit or passed a tipping point? Will it be as simple as an exaggerated and excessive growth of the level of the atmospheric CO2 ppm?

If that happened, will people know and believe it? Once a tipping point is reached and understood will a sense of despair and hopelessness develop as people realize they now live in a dying civilization that will markedly alter the lives of their children and grandchildren?

What about the scientific knowledge that the greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for hundreds maybe thousands of years. It doesn’t automatically come down when we stop burning fossil fuels. And there would be no earthly way to suddenly stop the accumulation or the production of greenhouse gases or stop all the burning of oil, coal and gas, or the melting of the permafrost. The process of change will be slow and gradual no matter what efforts are made. Thus the importance of starting now is self-evident. Whatever it takes to initiate the reduction of the burning of fossil fuels must start now.

I plead with you. We can’t wait to start the change. We don’t lock the barn door after the horses have escaped. Not having any other choice it would be prudent to accept CO2 400 ppm as a baseline and assume that a runaway temperature rise had not yet begun. How do we awaken the world to this overwhelming need to stop waiting and act now?

Many countries must participate The three biggest, China, India and the United States produce well over half the CO2 pumped into the air. Without these countries agreeing to reduce fossil fuel burning, little can be accomplished.

But it requires leadership. The United States, which has been reluctant in the past to participate in previous agreements to lower the global temperature, must be that leader. Our leadership would be welcomed and, I believe, our previous refusals to agree with most other countries to reduce global warming in the past would be forgotten.

Time doesn’t wait and the danger increases daily.

The future is too grim to ignore or deny.

Beyond this century, the conditions will continue to worsen. How will people live on a planet where the temperature has continued to rise into the 22nd century to unheard of levels? No one can predict the impact on human behavior living in such a world. Will people allow that to happen? NOW is the time to act. Change is for now. We must not wait.

 

On completion, Ron sent the article to the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The Times declared it the most important article that Ron had written. It would be published in two days accompanied by a Times lead article praising Ron Barrett’s for almost single-handedly arousing the fervor of the student population and raising the hopes of all environmentalists that a new voice was speaking out against global warming.

 

Friday morning the New York Times, Chronicle and over 300 hundred other newspapers throughout the country simultaneously published his new article. The laudatory New York Times article praised his growing leadership and his in-depth explanations of the dangers of global warming. Ron was described as the new leader who was giving his heart to help the world. “The importance of his papers can’t be overestimated,” the Times article declared. “They clearly describe the causes of global warming and how people are deceived into accepting falsehood as truth that reduces their understanding and desire to fight global warming.

His name spread throughout the world and people clamored for copies of his articles in countries where global warming was still hidden in the shadows. Ron’s dream of such an awakening was coming to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

As 2013 dawned, Audrey had found her unique voice that reached people of all ages and both sexes, though her poems mainly affected women. Her genuine and likeable personality coupled with a simple but powerful language gave her an increasingly large following who had taken her into their hearts. They waited for her poems to appear.

Subjects as social changes, potential violence, the impact of global warming on families and poor people, population control, as in her new poem, found a place in her poems. Her first exposition on the expanding population was a powerful indictment of the lack of family planning.

By generally taking the woman’s view and writing on subjects not usually considered by Ron they together rounded out their influence. She focused on how global warming affected children growing up, the effect on families of the millions of children who die every year of starvation, unequal education and how children are left unfulfilled, how weather change can influence relationships and similar subjects.

 

THE POPULATION EXPLOSION

 

I love my baby. I love mine too.

I love all my babies and I have two.

I love my three and I have four.

I have five and six and more.

I love them all. I really do.

 

Don’t cry baby; I’ll find you food. You will eat as soon as I do.

Don’t fret baby; water will come. I’m going out now to find you some.

Oh dear God, where is the food and drink I need?

My baby is so hungry and her mouth so dry.

I don’t know what I am to do. I only cry.

 

Babies are loved across the land,

Babies are so many, holding out their hands.

What do we do when their food goes away

And water dries up and babies can’t play?

They lie there alone wanting to live,

Yet so many just die with nothing to give.

No food, no water, my babies will starve.

My heart is breaking. What am I to do?

 

O dear God, I am pregnant again.

Another mouth to feed. I know not how.

Where will I go to find the food to feed my new baby?

 

All my babies are so good.

They all wait for food and no longer cry,

Another one comes. What can I do?

I have nothing to give; another will die.

Each time, so many times, I also die.

 

So many babies born each year.

So many not wanted why make more?

There are so many people around the world,

There are people enough. Why don’t we stop?

Why don’t we stop?

 

We have so many; what’s another, the men just say.

The world will gain with more alive.

Let them live, those men say, let them live.

I’ll give you more.

 

Look at the figures and gasp in dismay.

Another billion and more to come.

That cannot be; I cry out in vain.

Just a hundred year ago, in 1900, there were just one and a half billion,

One and a half, that is all.

 

But then the numbers began to climb.

Up, up and up to seven billion people now.

Seven billion, seven billion in today’s world,

But wait, another billion is due in a dozen years ahead.

Twelve years to add a billion more and then more, beyond the eight.

Twelve years beyond these twelve and it will be nine, nine billion.

Can that be?

 

When will the numbers stop and begin to come down?

Oh Earth, how will you live weighed down by so many,

Weighed down by the mass of mouths to feed and bellies to fill.

Oh earth, how will you survive?

 

My neighbor said when I started anew,

My belly not yet filled with number two.

She said you should wait, don’t rush the birth,

Until you are ready to care for another.

 

Plan to stop before filling now.

It is good for you and will be for two.

Beyond that is death of babies and you.

Go to the clinic or doctor or nurse,

Where you can learn the steps to stop the fill.

You will learn to control the time for baby two,

You will have what you want to love for you.

 

Alas, I cried; it ain’t no more. The clinic is gone, I know not where.

Where has it gone and why just now?

My belly will fill and my children will starve.

I must stop it at once but I don’t know how.

The pregnancies will come that I do not want.

I need help; I want help; I am helpless without.

 

Who took away the clinics, doctors and nurses,

Who help women just like me?

I wanted to stop but didn’t know how.

I would do it now.

But how?

 

I learned of ways like condoms and things to put inside to stop the baby from starting.

I learned of pills to take every day in the month. I begged for some but no one heard,

I would stop now, if someone would show me how.

Who took the clinics away? I asked again.

Happened up there, from someone up high.

 

What could happen if the baby was never to start?

That will never be; that’s all you need to know.

Accept what you’re told; you have no choice.

 

I love my babies I love them all,

There comes a time when I must stop what I do.

I’m killing the earth when my belly is filled.

Stop it, stop it, for it will be good.

The earth will live and so will I.

 

I love my church and what they say each day,

But not to fill my belly against my say.

My babies will die and so will I.

The world will be lost.

That will be all.

 

God they say has spoken clear.

The unborn must live that you must know.

Don’t stop the birth that God has ordained,

All the unborn become born again.

 

They come out of the womb and say, “I am here.”

They say, “I am here.”

Again the voices pierce the mind, don’t stop the pregnancy, don’t you care.

Let it happen.

 

Don’t forsake the God who showers love on all.

He wants the child, don’t you know.

Don’t cry out to him, he gives no relief.

No one will stop the flow of babies that cover the earth.

 

Today I learned that another baby has started to grow,

Will she live as the planet heats up and hears her screams.

Each baby takes acres and acres of trees and land to be tilled and houses to build

Each baby needs to grow food for life.

It takes energy to light the homes and keep food from decay.

It takes land to bury when they’ve had their say.

 

Oh God, how did this all come to be?

Everything held dear is going away.

I am born and eat the corn.

I am born and a house is made.

I am born and roads are built.

Over and over things repeat.

 

And the earth gets hotter and hotter.

Will it ever end I ask again?

It’s hard to breathe. I need more air.

How can I stand the heat?

It makes no difference if it’s nine or ten billion.

The earth will heat and shrivel us all.

 

Oh God, in my last days of Hell, I cry out for a life that never was.

I have lived this life because I was born.

To have been not born and to have saved the earth

Would have been my wish before the womb.

 

Once out where I can see afar, the wish to live defies the odds.

No matter, if I had no choice,

Once born I add to our woes.

The time to decide if birth should go on is before it even had a start.

 

No choice I say, if we look around,

The world is burdened beyond its bound.

Stop the demise of our earth. It is not too late,

It is not too late. I know in my heart.

It is not too late. It must be now.

 

Quickly appearing in print and on YouTube, her poem brought tears to many eyes. People raged against the uncaring world and dreaded the future filled with countless infants. “It’s in God’s hands,” some said, “just accept the inevitable.” The “Population Explosion” finally established Audrey as Ron’s true partner. Together, they were entering the hallowed hall of folklore.

 

Shortly after Audrey’s population poem entered the world’s domain, Ron and Audrey faced the almost forbidden subject of having a child. “I want to get pregnant,” she announced one evening after dinner.

Ron, taken by surprise, just looked at her for a few moments. “Are you certain?”

“Yes. One child. A child that we can raise who may take on the mantle of continuing to fight global warming when our days are done.”

“We would never know what a child of ours would want to do and hoping he or she would become a scientist and environmentalist to boot may be asking too much.”

“Many children follow in the footsteps of parents. The world’s plight will be so apparent that our child would become aware of the dangers and what her parents are doing that at the very least an interest in learning about the climate would be a natural inclination.”

“Darling, having our child would be wonderful,” Ron said tenderly. “Making love in these coming months would be very special since our child will come from our love.”

That night and subsequent nights a glow of fulfillment entered their hearts as making love claimed their bodies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

By 2014, colleges and universities worldwide were deeply engaged in providing the impetus to arouse the people and ultimately the governments to the absolute need to begin to reduce CO2 levels. The student movement became a force in bringing the dangers of global warming to the public, using marches, town hall seminars, clubs and forums. As 2020, then 2025 passed and the CO2 continued to rise, anger increased leading to violent outbursts on some campuses and in areas around the schools. The marches in cities, states and in Washington, at times threatened to become violent and police were called to break up such meetings.

The breakthrough in oil and natural gas production by tapping into the previously unavailable fossil fuels existing in shale through fracking techniques gave the US the potential of becoming oil and gas independent and ultimately becoming the major supplier for the world.

Every country wanted to improve their standard of living. As cars became the symbol for wealth, China and India claimed the leadership in building and supplying one billion new cars for the developing world. By 2030 two billion cars and trucks, many still using oil and gas, spewed out CO2 adding to the increasing yearly global warming. Every type of car rode the highways. Electric, hydrogen, hybrid, gas, oil had their adherents. Most were small, even tiny.

Methane always lurking in the background now took center stage in the production of greenhouse gases. As permafrost decayed and increasing amounts of methane were released into the atmosphere the fear of passing a tipping point had radically increased. Methane, caused 72 times as much heat retention as CO2 during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Even after 100 years it was still 25 times more potent than CO2. It had become the most feared element in the rise in global warming. From a relatively minor influence of 1.7 % of greenhouse gases in 2012, it had now reached dangerous and possibly unstoppable levels.

As of today, no one would offer a prediction on either the current or future effect of methane on global warming. An accepted belief that it had reached the tipping point would have brought total despair to a world already reeling in fear of the apocalyptic period that existed not far ahead.

Ron had written article after article on the continued denial, the misinformation still being promulgated, and on the blind hope holding on to the untenable belief that any day a great scientist would find the solution to bringing down atmospheric CO2 and reversing the breakdown of permafrost. Ron’s world-wide stature rose and he traveled widely speaking at universities, forums, and on television. He emphasized that there must be greater use of renewable energy and it must be coupled with reducing the burning of fossil fuels. By itself, as laudatory as using renewable energy was, it would not stop the continuing accumulation of CO2.

His words were echoed and repeated and held as truth. But nothing changed. Lip service did not cause the reduction of the burning of fossil fuels. A staff of volunteers gathered around Ron who read every email he received and authorized by Ron, answered many of them. When he answered a special one selected by his staff, his answers were published and became another form of sharing information with the public.

Audrey continued to write poems to express her views on a wide variety of personal subjects, that included anxieties faced by children, woman and the elderly. Population control was a major theme as she viewed with alarm the continuing population explosion. She traveled throughout the world lecturing on family planning and initiated the development of such centers, but resistance continued and little benefit was seen. As anger and despair entered the daily lives of countless people, the gradual deadening of feelings about the plight of the earth became a barrier to change. The world continued to burn and storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, worsened. People despaired as widespread pessimism cast a shadow throughout the world.

 

The disparity between the rich and poor countries widened and within each country the disparity between rich and poor people became a tinder box waiting for the fuse to be lit. As the years continued, the fuse was lit frequently and destructively. Although the rich closed their eyes to the widening impoverishment of the poor, they gave money and did many notable philanthropic acts to try to reduce the sufferings of the starving population.

Many countries around the world worked incessantly to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy. Although the largest countries as China, India, the US, Brazil and the European Union were the largest users of alternate energies, a number of small countries such as Denmark, Iceland and New Zealand used proportionally far more renewable energy and showed the world the potential of an entire country giving up oil, gas and coal.

Meanwhile, as global warming intensified, the oceans became warmer and more acidified and corals throughout the world were becoming ghostly skeletons. The beauty that so captivated the world was disappearing. The abundance of coral fish had been reduced to only an occasional fish remaining to nibble at the dying coral.

Coastal lands had eroded from the rising seas and storm surges devastated countries throughout the world. Numerous times over the years, Ron and Audrey visited China Cove at Point Lobos that had inspired one of her first poems. Her fears and predictions of it disappearing had come true and the beach no longer existed during long stretches of the year. They would still descend the stairs and walk in the water that covered the beach. Reminiscent of her poem, Audrey would remove her outer clothes and lie in the water much as she had written about. In recent years, no one visited China Cove anymore, except perhaps to gaze upon the exquisite beach that had drawn people for hundreds of years.

Deforestation had changed. Countries no longer cut down trees. Instead, they watched them die from new fungi, insects, lack of water or being inundated by storm thrusts and wrenched from their tie to the earth. Dead and down trees were everywhere. Trees were still loved and grief was rampant when people entered the national parks and forests and saw the devastation firsthand. People ranted and wept and swore vengeance, and prayed. But a sense of futility and hopelessness had slowly sapped the energy of many environmentalists and lovers of nature. Witnessing vast areas of former pristine forests in decline and decay brought tears to their eyes.

So much change, so much devastation, in such a short time. The CO2 level was still rising. The increase was accelerating despite recent attempts to keep the use of fossil fuels in check. Had the world reached a point of no return, one of those dreaded tipping points that Ron had so eloquently written about as early as 2012? He had frequently made clear that there would never be certainty about having reached a point of no return, until years after the burning of fossil fuels had stopped and yet CO2 had kept on rising.

When he reflected on the clues and probable evidence that would indicate that we had come close or had more than likely passed that time, he dwelled more and more on believing that 450 was that feared time. He sadly shook his head as he realized how his articles had been in vain. No one heeded or seemed to care that so many of his clues were prophetic.

Years earlier he and so many others had written that 450 ppm and its related rise in temperature of two degrees Celsius could be that turning point when any effort to stem global warming would be doomed to failure. Could that be true? Over and over he tried to dismiss such a possibility as unlikely or just plain wrong. He vainly tried to convince himself that 450 was just a number, a guess, but the growing facts and the visible acceleration of the rising CO2 confounded his hopes.

Continuing research had added certainty to his prediction. Reaching 450 ppm associated with an acceleration in the yearly level of CO2 was a highly probable turning point. Is today merely the prelude to a far more devastating attack on the earth and on our civilization? he asked himself grimly.

I’m only 48, he thought. I’ll still be alive near the end of the century. Will I be able to stand it? Do I want to live in such a world? Will loving my wife and son be enough to keep me alive? In his darkest moments, Ron had thought that if the world became overwhelmingly inhospitable and socially unlivable that he would not want to live. But he knew that as long as his mind remained intact and he could contribute something to help people through the darkest periods, he would want to be alive.

He had begun to think what the 22nd century would be like. If we reached 650 or higher, what would stop the CO2 from continuing to 1000, 2000, 10,000? Today the world was now facing a rapid ascent unlike anytime in the past, as far as scientists could determine. Such a rapid rise allowed no time to adapt or change and give rise to new species. Much of the world would die and remaining would be the insects and certain animals and plant life. But no humans, no mammals, no fish, or birds. Then when the human race died off there would be a slow recovery, perhaps lasting tens of thousands of years, perhaps millions. No one alive today would be around to watch the final demise of civilization as the sea claimed hegemony over the lands.

 

Ron and Audrey had bought their home ten years ago. Located on a hilltop in Woodside it offered security and privacy. A single narrow road led to a large parking area. A high wrought iron gate half way up the hill prevented accidental or deliberate entrance to their property. Consistent with their love of nature, many trees surrounded their glass encased home and seemed to extend green leafy arms to nurture and caress them. Many of their trees were given names. When their sliding doors were opened, they felt like they lived outdoors.

Shrubs, flowers, many succulents, a half dozen well-picked fruit trees and frequent visits from neighborhood deer, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels and many birds completed their island paradise. Due to their combined teaching and lecture travel schedule they were rarely home for long stretches of time.

Their successful publication of nine books together made them quite well off. Ron continued his professorship at Stanford as a full professor and was a visiting or adjunct professor at four other universities.

Despite his efforts and the intensive work of countless environmentalists, including scientists and many authors, he now believed that disaster lay ahead. The scope would be beyond comprehension. All scientific predictions now pointed to over 650. Over and over he thought back at all the lost opportunities. It still wasn’t clear if they had reached a real tipping point. But with fossil fuels still being burned throughout the world it made no difference.

Ron had now begun to write scathing articles about the death wish that seemed to have gripped the country and world. Truth meant little. Denial had taken a new form. What was the use of reducing oil and gas, nothing would make any difference in stopping what was now seen as the end of the world. A sense of hopelessness appeared to have put the world into a strait jacket. Hunger and starvation were rampant. Social violence could strike anywhere. Mobs formed in minutes when prompted by disaster or a crazed speaker who railed against everyone who had let this happen. The early evidence of worldwide pessimism and fear became evident. The world began to await its fate.

Leaders appeared everywhere and roused the people to rise up against the government. Governments throughout the world grew tense and wary. Unruly crowds were quelled by armed police. The green leaders grew louder, more vociferous, more violent. They were called “the fanatics of destruction.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

 

In 2020, a senior at Harvard rose to the leadership of the Harvard branch of the Student Coalition for Climate Control. John Curtis, a charismatic firebrand, handsome, dashing, appealing to women and emulated by men, had quickly become recognized as a potential leader in the global warming struggle. His oratory and articles on global warming brought him early notoriety.

Ron Barrett met him on a visit to Harvard the previous year and invited him to come to Stanford and study with him in earth sciences. Although flattered by the recognition, Curtis sought his graduate study at Imperial College in London to join the student body at Grantham Institute for Climate Change

In his first year of study, he became the acknowledged leader of the graduate organization for Climate Control. By his second year, a cult of zealous students, graduate and undergraduate, had developed around him

John was not a speaker prone to utter platitudes or clichés or to repeating the findings and information of others as though they were his own. Instead, John sought help from leading teachers, including maintaining a strong connection with Ron Barrett. His talks and articles were all original and showed impressive organizational skills and imaginative thinking. As a graduate student his reputation grew beyond Imperial College. Several papers co-authored with Ron Barrett sealed his future as an upcoming major figure in the environmental field with a special interest in global warming.

During the five years of study leading to his PhD in Earth System Science, John wrote over two dozen articles, including his in-depth thesis on how mental conditioning and training can influence thinking and behavior. Susceptible at all ages to such conditioning, he believed, a person can turn positive or negative in any area. John then narrowed his focus to show how an entire world’s population can be influenced to avoid participation in working to overcome global warming, the “single most important universal issue in our lifetime,” he wrote. The need to awaken the population to become willing and active participants to overthrow the ineffectual and negative governments would be the essential step needed to finally reduce and eventually stop global warming.

Published as a book, his thesis would spell out his method and approach to bringing a halt to global warming. In a few short years his book became a bible to his growing followers. The way was clear. He was becoming a force that would put global warming in a new light. As John evolved into a world leader, contrasts were being made with Ron Barrett.

One perceptive journalist spoke of the fight to save our world was divided into two camps; Ron Barrett, the Gandhi of our times who fought with words, thought and passivity. John Curtis, the Mao Zedong, who believed in power, fighting for change and aggressiveness.

 

After acquiring his PhD in 2026, John Curtis traveled throughout the world visiting 37 countries. He wrote a series of scathing articles attacking one government after another for their passive and destructive positions for not fostering legislation to fight the fossil fuel industries. He was candid, outspoken, feared no reprisals, despite growing threats against his life. The public adored him and for the first time there was a new hope to control the spiraling out-of-control global warming.

Pointing to individual leaders who maintained silence or worse continued to oppose the science and prospect of the rising CO2 levels, he accused them of being traitors to their citizens when they did nothing to reduce their suffering by ending the use of oil and gas. He frequently cited articles of Ron Barrett to support his own thesis. He made it appear obvious that he and Barrett were actually on the same page using the same data and seeking the same changes. He spoke of Ron Barrett as the leader who had brought knowledge and awareness to the masses, and now it was necessary for new leadership to carry those very ideas to the next step.

The urgency was so great that everyday that passed could have been the one when global warming became unstoppable. Such a happening was so terrifying that nothing should stand in the way of finally overcoming the barriers to change. He proclaimed loudly and broadly, “Global warming must end. Global warming must end now. No longer do we have any choice unless we have all decided that we would allow the earth to burn and we welcome the end of civilization as we know it.

“Anyone standing in the way must be removed. No government must be allowed to bring down our world. No leader, elected or not, must be allowed to remain in office who refuses to act. Nothing must stop change. The world must rise up and demand that change occurs. Every country must accede to this dictum. No country is too big or too small to finally stop every source of fossil fuel burning that exists. The perpetrators of destruction of our world must be replaced. We must be prepared to take whatever steps necessary.”

Governments became alarmed at his pronouncements, but until actual social violence was initiated by John or his followers, most stood aside. His popularity had exploded and countries were afraid of making him into a martyr. His followers numbered in the millions and he was always surrounded in public by hundreds of guards. No one got near him.

John knew of his vulnerability but nothing would stand in his way. He had a mission to save the world. If necessary, he would take whatever steps necessary, including revolution, he had told his followers. Wanting to avoid out and out fighting, he made his position clear hoping that would force governments to relent and follow his path to save the earth, not destroy it. He was a force of right, good and truth.

But as he was to discover, trying to get presidents and other powerful leaders to give up power and essentially overthrow any industry continuing to use fossil fuels was quite unlikely. Raising trillions of dollars to develop the remaining infrastructure for renewable energy was nigh impossible. A simple declaration of the coming world destruction was ignored.

 

John’s early aggressive stance proved appealing to increasing numbers of Coalition members. The contrast between them was not lost on Ron’s followers. In the mid 2026 period the Coalition gradually split into two groups, allegedly working toward the same goal but now on two paths. The Student Coalition for Climate Control was slowly turning more radical as new students entered the universities, students who did not feel bound to follow Ron’s views. In 2027 the split became official as the Coalition changed their constitution and accepted the new designation. Coalition I and Coalition II. Their initial agreement to work together soon ended as the separation produced too many conflicts and arguments. The leaders felt it was better to acknowledge that each Coalition would serve a different purpose for the common good.

Many older members felt torn as they viewed the future with increasing dread and felt the need of rising against anyone or anything that stood in the way of climate control. John resonated with their growing need to actively express their rising frustration with the lack of progress.

Ron had maintained a respected but essentially honorary role in the Coalition after it had become a worldwide powerful force to begin to bring down CO2. The Coalition had produced many important changes over the years but nothing that caused the CO2 to start its descent.

 

John Curtis felt he needed to develop joint leadership with Ron Barrett and together they would take the necessary steps to end fossil fuel burning. It was no longer a matter of more time needed. There was no more time left. He wrote Ron indicating he was planning to be in California and would like to meet with him. Over the years, although their relationship had continued, it had diminished as their approaches to solving the quandary of global warming often put them at odds with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

 

In California, John called Ron and indicated a desire to meet and discuss the critical issues at hand. Ron agreed and invited him to dinner. The day was May 21, 2030, a day that would enter the later folklore of these two pivotal figures in the final struggle to bring down global warming.

Ron and Audrey briefly discussed what the agenda would be when John joined them. Rather than speculate, Ron decided to wait to see what unfolded. He was convinced that though they had sharp differences their ultimate goal to stop the burning of fossil fuels and try to avert the coming catastrophe was the same. Perhaps they could find a way of joining forces and find a common path that would satisfy each of them. There was too much at stake to not be able to reconcile their differences. Certainly, there must be no antagonism or alienation. A lack of agreement much be resolved within the friendship.

Audrey was concerned that Ron’s growing irritation at the aggressive stance John was taking and seemingly radicalizing his followers to a much more combative attitude would make reconciliation difficult. More recently, Ron was obviously upset by not being invited to give his yearly address to Coalition I’s annual meeting. Instead, without his being consulted, John had taken his place. Members of Coalition I were apparently interested in learning more of John’s approach to fighting global warming.

In addition, John also gave the yearly address at Coalition II. Ron had already felt a growing distance from the Stanford students. He had not been invited to any Coalition meeting for several years and his advice was rarely sought. His last public lecture had been over a year earlier and no further invitations had been forthcoming.

Apart from a small number of articles, his output had diminished and he felt his influence in trying to reduce global warming slipping. Yet the need was greater than ever and the urgency to begin to reduce fossil fuel burning was greater than anytime in the past. The passivity he feared in others had begun to overtake his resolve. Under this umbrella, John came to pay him a visit.

 

When the doorbell rang, Ron and Audrey went to the door to greet John. Audrey’s previous meetings with John had been brief. Immediately drawn by the power of his eyes and his irresistible smile, she responded to his outreached hand. John then turned to Ron and hugged him briefly acknowledging it has been too long since they last met.

In the living room, John walked over to the large window overlooking the verdant valley below and gazed upon the surrounding peacefulness. When he sat down in a comfortable club chair, Ron was already opening a bottle of Chardonnay. John gave the first toast “To our lasting friendship, our pursuit of climate control and saving our civilization.” From these first words, the agenda had been set. Ron responded by bringing their primary issue to the foreground. “To our finding the correct path together that will finally arrest the climb of CO2.”

For a few moments, the three people drank their cool wine in silence not realizing the impact the next few hours would have on their lives and the future of the world.

John put his glass on the coffee table and addressed Ron. “Ron, there is no point in beating around the bush. I’m here for a very definite purpose and that is to find a way for the two of us to work together. Our purpose is clear. We must stop global warming at any cost. I see no alternative and I’m certain neither do you.

“I have followed and read every single article you ever wrote and all of Audrey’s poems. There is no doubt you have almost single handedly given rise to the hope that we would stop global warming and end this threat to our world. But despite all the changes and there have been many, global warming has continued unabated and now seems to be accelerating. I just hope we haven’t reached a tipping point.

“What would we do then? All our efforts would now be in vain. You made it clear that we won’t actually know if we have passed that point until we actually make the necessary changes to bring it down and it continues upward. Ron, I am no longer waiting. If the government won’t act, then the people must. I intend to act for the people.”

“John, you may be right that the time to act is now but being rash is not the way to go.” Ron’s voice was quiet, even dignified, though he tightly clenched his fists.

“Acting now is not being rash. You of all people must realize that. You have pointed out the urgency for years. What has it meant? Nothing. Sure coal has been essentially eliminated from America but the world still uses it. We use much less oil, but more gas. Good. But unless we initiate a true effort to stop global warming, the world is doomed. The rest of the world watches us and emulates us. We need to act now.”
Ron was now breathing faster, his face was flushed, he was obviously struggling for self-control. “John, we can’t enter the realm of the crazy people who foment rebellion. Do you in your wildest dreams think you can win against the government? Under the right circumstances, the army would fire on citizens who threatened the government. Don’t rule that out.”

John stood up and began to pace back and forth. “Look Ron, I expected a rational discussion when I came here. This is no time for polemics or irrational anger at each other. We have a job to do. Either we can do it together or I’ll do it alone.”

Audrey watched in growing horror at the short fuses these two men had. Why can’t Ron admit that there must be another way to bring down global warming. If he doesn’t act reasonably then this opportunity will be lost.

Audrey poured each man more wine, and then turned to Ron. “Honey, John is right. You must get together on this. Arguing doesn’t help. We know we have no more time.”

Run took a deep breath and a long sip of wine. “All right. I’ll be willing to listen to you John. Exactly how do you think we should proceed.”
“Fair enough,” John responded. “I’m also open to change. My only purpose is stopping the CO2 from rising. I’m no fool to think I could win against the army. But winning may not need a revolution, though I’m prepared to take it as far as needed. I believe we have no choice. Every scientist in the world now agrees that our future is in great jeopardy. They’ll support us. If the circumstances require it, then open rebellion will happen.”
Ron, obviously struggling with such ideas asked John to give them a rundown how he would proceed.

“I propose that we join forces and lead the millions of our followers to an open rebellion against our own government and through whatever force that is needed, overturn the government and start the real ending to the burning of fossil fuels. Rebellion can be a series of marches, sit-ins, fasts, convincing workers to strike in key industries, block access to energy companies, convince newspapers to start a unified attack on legislators, enlist the help of the best writers to support us, have the environmental groups mobilize their members to flood the White House and Congress with vast numbers of emails plus real mail.

“We could plan to carry out this approach all at one time. It would require exceptional organization and mobilization of our resources but it can all be done if we get the public behind us. That’s where you and I come in. I already know that a third of the population has been involved with the Coalition, which we now jointly influence. Perhaps you and I can jointly write a short book about our purpose, goals, and methods that can be a kind of bible for the uprising. We can start a joint blog and website and welcome articles from all contributors. We could include the best of them. I bet we’d have the most visited website on the web in a matter of months. We need to find a way to have a war effort and stop all production of fossil fuels in a relatively short time. That’s my idea in a nutshell.”

John stopped and waited.

After glancing at Audrey, Ron spoke. “John, I understand your position and must agree that all that has been done to date has not produced the hoped for response. I have always taken the position that truth and knowledge were our main weapons. Much of the country supports our current agenda and most everyone is scared of the future, including me. Would the public now come forth more aggressively and follow your ideas, which I can see would have very persuasive power? Hard to know since what you describe could be highly disruptive.”
“Compared to the future it’s nothing. We have already pointed that out many times. Ron, we have to just do it. We have nothing to lose.”

Finally, Audrey spoke, feeling that Ron would have difficulty asking the next obvious question. “John, if all those actions you listed don’t work then what?”

“If nothing significant occurred, we and others would write many articles indicating that this is the time to stop all procrastination. If the government won’t act then the people will, even if it meant open and armed rebellion.”

“You would take that step?” Audrey asked, realizing his answer was already in his agenda.

“Yes, what do we have to lose? Some people killed now instead of later when the entire country will be hungry, angry and desperate. Then the uprisings will be uncontrolled and become part of the social unrest that is certain to occur as global warming increases.”
“John,” Ron’s voice rose in anger. “In other words if the more peaceful method failed, we would resort to open warfare.”

“Ron, do you have any better alternative?”

“John, I can’t possibly assist you in a fruitless effort in what would be insurrection and revolution.”

John stood and glowered.

Audrey again stepped in. “We need time to assimilate all these ideas. Let’s have dinner and cool off and maybe during dinner we can continue. I think we got a little too heated up. Maybe John, you can then tell us how you expect to establish the kind of broad support you would need. We all know that time is running out.”

“I’d love to give you a closer look at what might happen. I’ve been reflecting on this for several years trying to decide what steps we need to take. I have been struggling with my ideas and position, and how quickly we need to take this step. I am clear that the more passive approach needs updating.”

Ron was aware of the downgrading of his approach now called passive almost as though he was being put out to pasture. He said nothing.

For dinner, Ron opened a Merlot to complement the Italian food that Audrey had prepared. Starting with chicken cannelloni followed by a Caesar salad they ate in relative silence. Audrey returned to the subject of their fight against global warming. “We can all admit that our purposes are the same. The fact there are a number of different approaches should not surprise us. John, you have already achieved much considering the short time you have been in a leadership role.”

To indicate he was in a more resilient mood Ron now praised John. “John, I have watched your ascent into power ever since you were a student. I have admired your zeal and unrelenting energy. You seemed to be everywhere and lectured widely. You have never hidden your more aggressive stand and now that the Coalition has openly split, the chasm between you and me has become public knowledge.

“I feel torn. Could I sanction an open rebellion against our government knowing it might result in bloodshed and the death of many people? The nature of our country would radically change and there would be no guarantee we’d even succeed. After all, the Army would stand behind the government and the national guards would follow the orders of the state governors. I envision a slaughter and nothing would be accomplished. It might even harden the government against us despite our goal is to save our country and initiate a true world change.”

Ron paused and John again spoke. “Audrey, what do you think of these two positions? You have been part of Ron’s world leadership for years and your poems are world renown. I can’t tell you how much they have moved me and actually solidified my position to do anything needed to change the course of our future.”

Audrey glanced at Ron before replying. “John, your position is very appealing since I have been increasingly frustrated for a number of years. Don’t think that Ron and I haven’t thought over carefully what we do. We have watched the increasing appeal that you have engendered in so many people, especially the younger ones. I daresay that you have captured the hearts of the majority of college students. We realize you are the one they call up to address them and Ron won’t hide the fact that he has been increasingly neglected. Becoming more aggressive does appeal to me.”

Ron interrupted and glared at Audrey. “That’s news to me that you find John’s approach appealing.”

“I didn’t say John’s approach. I said becoming more aggressive.”

“How does that different from what John has been saying. He stands at the head of the growing movement to do just that.”

“Ron, I’m not opposing you,” Audrey said. “We need to become realistic and accept what we’ve done so far hasn’t worked and we have little time left to make the needed changes.”

Ron was silent and looked back and forth at John and Audrey.

Audrey continued. “Ron, please understand that for a number of years even though I know that we work from truth, which is our source of power I felt we should use a more aggressive position and see whether we might prevail upon our government and president to make the necessary changes. After all, at stake was our way of life and actually saving the civilization we know.

“Today our fears go far beyond what we knew then. Your recent papers alluded to the 22nd century and the horror that would exist if we passed 800 or a 1000 ppm. You wrote that the rapidly increasing global temperature would cause environmental changes beyond imagination. Ron, how can you not take a different stance? What you have done hasn’t worked the way you hoped. You have said repeatedly that until the CO2 comes down everything else is hype.

“Ron, I’m scared. I’m almost 45 and I expect to be living through most of the century. When I’ve seen what has been happening in the past ten years and even earlier, I have no doubt that all the things you and others have predicted will take place. Maybe John’s ideas need to be supported. What do we have to lose?”

Ron, both startled and upset by her words, stared at her.

John, was aware of Ron’s surprise and discomfort. “Audrey, I appreciate your support but you must know that I hold everything that Ron has done, in the highest esteem. The fact CO2 continues to go up was determined years ago when the US and the world decided that they would continue fostering a fossil fuel world despite what was known then.

“Ron, the forces against stopping fossil fuels burning were too powerful, but what you did was beyond heroic. You taught the world what it needed to know. But like any other information people can hide and block knowledge even when it might lead to their death.”

“Thanks, John,” Ron said quietly. “I appreciate your comments but I’m not blind to the lack of success and even the futility I sometimes feel when I know that our time may be up. I have felt for years that the unknown tipping point is the sword that hangs over our heads and that the rise in methane production may be our Achilles heel. With the amount of methane now being produced throughout the Arctic the feedback loop between methane and the rising temperature might be unstoppable. I don’t know, but the possibility does frighten me.”

“Honey, that might be the reason to support John.”

“No. What will my millions of followers think if I suddenly became a revolutionary?”

“Who said you have to become a revolutionary,” Audrey replied, somewhat irritated. “You can just say that in this frightening phase of global warming time may have ended for any further waiting. A more aggressive stand is now necessary.”

“Audrey, you’re not making sense,” Ron said angrily. “By joining John actively I am showing my support of his ideas. I would be going against my principles and that would leave many people astonished and out on a limb.”

“But honey, what is your position if you stop worrying about your followers?”

“Stop pushing me,” Ron interjected.

“I’m not pushing you. I’m merely saying you should strongly consider supporting John. Do it slowly or whatever way would work for you. Your followers would understand. And you would certainly know the words to show them a new approach and encourage them to give it a chance.”

Ron did not answer but his anger was apparent.

“Ron, you might just want to consider Audrey’s view from a somewhat different perspective,” John said.

“What do you mean?” Ron shot back.

‘I believe that people know of our early relationship and that you were very supportive of me as an undergraduate.”

“And Honey, remember how disappointed you were that John didn’t come to work with you at Stanford.”

“I admit that. I admired John’s ideas and independence and believed he would become a major figure in the global warming fight. And he did.”

“So you can remind people of your admiration and therefore feel it is worth while to give his ideas some consideration,” Audrey pressed her support of John.

Ron, acutely aware that his wife was actively taking sides, realized that he had always felt her instincts and knowledge were to be taken seriously.

“If I gave his ideas any credibility no matter how I couched them I then become a supporter of revolution and all that implies. My entire being rebels against such an idea.”

“But darling, we’re talking about saving our civilization.”

“We’re talking about my supporting what might become open rebellion. There is no assurance that such an uprising would have any chance of succeeding and I might be seen as the pivotal force that gave John the recognition he needed to arouse the country to open rebellion leading to unaccountable deaths and even social chaos. I could never take on that responsibility.”
“Are you more concerned with your reputation or trying to save our world?” Audrey said angrily.

“It’s not my reputation. It’s my beliefs.”

“We’re talking about saving the world. And you’re talking about beliefs. Ron, if your beliefs were valid perhaps we’d be further along in overcoming this problem. But we’re not.”

“What do you mean, if my beliefs were valid. You believe they are invalid?”

“I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I meant that if they did not do what you had hoped and intended. Why don’t you admit your position hasn’t accomplished what you had hoped. Everyone understands you were fighting the entire oil and gas industry as well as obstinate members of Congress. You will be admired for your willingness to look at another person’s approach. John is already widely admired and your support would give him great leverage to attract many powerful and influential people. He’ll need all the help he’ll be able to get.”

“I’ll think about it,” Ron said, seeking a way to end the conversation.

“Ron, what do you think was the biggest obstacle for the oil companies and Congress to realize the need to initiate zero emissions?” John asked trying to change to a more agreeable subject.

“Briefly, it was power, greed, belief that the economy would breakdown and the continued relative passivity of the American people,” Ron replied.

“Yes, that would include the major issues,” John responded. “The energy companies did eliminate coal and say that they primarily use gas as backup for the unreliable use of solar and wind. That was much of the problem. The idea of going to zero emissions was seen as too drastic for the economy or country now that we’re the world’s largest supplier of gas and oil. Congress no longer fought the need to stop global warming but had always managed to find ways to avoid taking drastic action.”

“You’re right. Nothing I or anyone did resulted in a true change in the US or in any country,” Ron said.

“Ron, enough said,” John said vehemently. “We must stop burning fossil fuels or we’ll face a living Hell. I’m going to move on this. There is nothing that would ever cause me to falter in my attempt to bring down global warming, I need this chance to make the changes we need.

“I would like your support for you stand at the pinnacle of the environmental world and it would truly enhance my chance of success. But above all, I want to retain your friendship and am not dependent on your support. I intend to take the next steps no matter what we decide tonight.”

“John, could you tell us more explicitly what you intend to do?” Audrey asked, looking directly at John. Ron was having trouble coping with Audrey’s support for John and minimizing his current contributions. Has she lost all faith in me? he wondered sadly.

“Of course. Here is the essential information. I have already started designing a new website and blog to bring my positions into further clarity. If you decide to join me it would be modified showing our joint sponsorship.”
“At the moment I’m uncertain what I intend to do,” Ron said.

“No problem,” John responded. “I could design two separate websites and blogs One without you and one with you that would show the difference with both of us sharing the leadership. We can use whichever is appropriate after you have thought over what you want to do.”
“John, would it be possible to include me as one of the leaders or as a leader connected to Ron, which is the way the world knows us.”
“Of course,” John said surprised. “That would enhance the website and blog even more.”

Ron remained quiet as he saw how Audrey’s support for John was increasing.

“I would only want to be involved if Ron decided do join you on your joint website.”

“Understood,” John acknowledged.

“What else are you considering doing if the previous ideas don’t make any essential changes?” Ron asked.

John seemed to hesitate before responding. “I can tell you my other plans which are only known to a few people thus far, but you should know them so your joining is based on full knowledge of my intent. I am, of course, interested in your reactions whether you join or not.

“I am planning to establish a training camp for possible future operations.”
”What will you use it for?” Ron asked.

“To train people to fight, prepared for whatever we may do. In other words train soldiers and officers.”

“Soldiers? Then you are preparing for some kind of revolution,” Ron said, surprised.

“Yes, we need to be prepared. We can’t openly confront the government, if it comes to that, without having power to back our demands”

“Are you insane?” Ron shouted. “You’re preparing an army to fight against the US government. That would be a slaughter and you know it.”
“Look, Ron, don’t get excited. I’m not planning to fight the US Army. This is to show that we are determined to change the government’s stand on global warming. It’s like saying we will fight for our beliefs. I expect when that happens, if it does, most of the country will applaud us and stand behind us.”

“I wouldn’t count on that,” Ron said sharply.

“Will you have guns?” Audrey asked.

“Of course. This army would be composed of responsible adults who either know how to use a gun or will learn. The situation we are in is real, I’m not fooling around. We have no time to consider the ethics or whether we actually intend to go to war. I am going to do something to change our future, if I possibly can.”

“Then you would kill for that purpose,” Ron exclaimed.

“Absolutely. I’m not doing anything that is fake. Our purpose which we’ll spell out in a hundred ways will be shared, I believe, by the vast number of Americans. Ron, we have reached 450 and there is no evidence that this will slow down without a drastic change in government policy who forces a zero emissions approach. We need a true war effort to change this. I’ll do whatever I have to.

“What do you mean, whatever you have to?”

“Whatever it takes. Just what I said. If we have to sacrifice a few people for the good of the world, then so be it. No one will participate who is not fully aware of the possible war and sacrifices. I don’t intend to do anything irresponsibly.

Ron stood staring at John, aghast at what he was hearing. Audrey, meanwhile had heard a different message. She was not living in some nebulous non-violent cloud as Ron was. Nothing Ron and all the other climate change hawks did had mattered. The dreaded future was fast approaching. Maybe John’s aggressive approach was needed. What was there to lose?

The future was so bleak it could hardly matter if John failed. The unfolding would go on and they would all live in a future Hell. Or it could matter and he would be able to stop the climb of CO2 before it became unstoppable. If it was already in that terrifying state of an unstoppable feedback loop then they and the world was doomed to a catastrophe of unknown proportions.

“John, I decided, after reflecting on what has just transpired to offer you my support.” Audrey’s words were electric. Both men became very quiet. “From my perspective we have nothing to lose since as of today the future will come just as Ron predicted.

“Every year that goes by people say someday we’ll look back and say that was the last time we could have controlled the climate. Our children and grandchildren will hate us as they see their world literally go up in flames. Even now those words are widely believed.

“You’re on campus a lot these past few years. I’m certain you have heard the students’ fears. Most try to maintain a positive belief that we will somehow finally find a way to stop global warming. But everyone fears that our future is exactly what was predicted over 18 years ago. Actually over 50 years ago.”
Ron stood, his heart pounding, on hearing his wife’s words. Part of him wanted to explode with rage. But the bigger part felt crushed and abandoned. Does Audrey see me as obsolete, no longer the real leader of the country’s fight for climate control.

As he stood unmoving, tears began to trickle down his face. A weight of despair and failure now lay upon his shoulders. Could he give up his beliefs? He thought of Gandhi, never flinching, and never deviating from his non-violent principles. And he thought of Lincoln who initiated a war to save the union. Was this the time to change his principles?

He knew the conditions today were vastly different from the period when Gandhi and Lincoln lived. Much more was at stake. His approach had proven unsuccessful. And time was up. Listening to John had made him deaf. His ideas that were so foreign to him that he felt bewildered, not knowing what to do.

How can I sanction violence and war? The killings would be on my head. My support would give John the needed power he needed to take his fight up another notch to where he could say that we have tried everything. He could hear John proclaiming to the world that even your great leader, Ron Barrett, has screamed out “fight, fight, fight for your world. People arise with us. We want the entire country behind us. Your future is at stake. Our world is dying. We have no more time. Follow us.”

These words wormed their way into Ron’s conscious mind and reverberated loudly, repeatedly, drumming a strange message that twisted around in his mind. John is right. Audrey is right. You are wrong. Take a stand, you must take a stand.

“Our discussion is over,” Ron finally spoke. His voice was barely audible. Audrey and John watched in silence and felt his pain. Audrey wanted desperately to go over and wipe his tears, hold him, say, “I love you.” But no one moved. They waited.

“John, I can’t join you. We may have reached the only alternative position possible. Fighting a war for what we believe. But I can’t bring death to anyone, even if it means the death of our planet. Ron now cried more openly, and Audrey went to him and just held him.

John stood, not speaking, but deeply moved by Ron’s inability to take a stand alongside him. Even as he watched, an inner resolve hardened. Ron has abdicated his position as our leader. I must fill his shoes and take the next step. We both are prisoners of the times and of our inner selves.

John left, briefly hugging Ron who returned his embrace. Audrey shook John’s hand but reserved her hugs. As they parted she looked into John’s eyes and knew her tie to her husband was becoming untied. John closed the door with heavy heart for his intent was not to destroy but to have gained a partner and colleague to share the coming

upheaval. God only knows what will happen, he thought, as he slowly walked to his car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

 

For three days little was said about the meeting with John. An unusual quietness replaced the usual liveliness in the Barrett household. Ron felt his mind had become cold, shut down and left him without his typical resources. Depression had claimed him.

Audrey took long walks alone, reflecting on her meeting with John, struggling to find direction, facing a breach of loyalty to the man she loved. The future is already here, she thought. Why hesitate now? The world is sleeping. But not all. Many see the changes as the coming of the end. Why do we hesitate? Why does anyone hesitate? Everywhere the world is different. No crystal ball is needed. No predictor of the future. The change is here now.

From these walks came the birth of her new poem.

 

THE WINDS OF CHANGE

 

The winds of change are stirring in the darkening world,

Giving hope where there was none and death was in the air,

Do we know when the world will change and give us back our lives?

So much fear grips our soul with tentacles already bare.

 

We live in dread and we live in doubt waiting for change to come,

We pause to pray each day we wait, we know not else to do,

Hope, our one and only bait flickers in the twilight zone,

We pray again as daylight fades that the light comes on again.

 

We have waited so long to no avail,

Earth’s screams we must not fail.

The rains come and never cease.

And dryness prevails where rain is naught,

Over the world the dust clouds swirl,

And the heat prostrates us to the soil.

 

Carbon dioxide looms high in the sky.

An invisible terror that can make us die.

It’s here and there and everywhere,

I don’t see it, hear it, smell it or touch it,

But it’s crushing the earth and bringing doom.

 

I hear the screams throughout the world,

Children hungry, thirsty, waiting to die.

Brought to earth to be slaughtered and killed.

What have we done as we hear their cries,

As we watch death come and blacken our times.

 

Dear God are you there?

Do you hear my call?

Heed me, I plead, heed my voice.

I beg that you listen and open your mind,

No time is left to stop the horrors to come,

When terror will strike all in our graves to be dug,

 

Stop, stop, we must, the life ahead,

How can you doom your people when ignorance led.

We tried to stop the insanity and failed at every turn.

We shouted loud and clear until our voices died,

God, you must make it happen, happen at last,

That we might feed the children before life has passed.

 

I dream at night of blackness and death,

And wait for the life that has no breath.

Insects, snakes, birds, fish, dogs and man too,

We all go to the land that we ourselves made

A land so bleak, desolate and lost

Where we will die in what we have wrought.

 

Glaciers no more and Arctic ice gone.

Forest in throes of dying all,

Hastens our deaths as temperatures rise

And will reach the top before it is done.

Oh my God, if nothing changes in this very time,

We will be brought down to the very end.

No respite, no hope, no future, no world.

Is that our legacy to the earth that gave us life?

Is there no hope, no hope at all?

 

You heard this so many times before,

It has become part of our world’s lore,

Time measures all by what is done,

Or watches as the world slowly succumbs,

I’m sick of my words, sick to the death,

My friends, I wait and wait and wait for change,

I want to live, not die, live to the end,

How do we rise up and save the world to mend?

 

In my poems before, I wrote of changes ahead.

There is no more to say of a future that’s dead,

How many times can I write of civilization’s end?

Dear God, is there no future for those who love and cherish life,

Can I only find ahead nature’s strife?

 

Must we stand aloof as climate brings us down?

How do we make tomorrow live?

Catastrophic changes lie ahead,

If we close our eyes and become the dead.

Today, I tell you, a new wind is blowing and changes are coming,

Or we will be swept into the Hell that lies ahead.

 

My friends, open your mind as open can be,

I tell you that times are changing.

I have a vision of a new power born,

A power risen in our gravest time,

A power that will sweep the world,

The winds of change are blowing.

Listen to my words,

Open your minds

The winds of change are blowing.

 

That afternoon Audrey sent her poem to the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times, as well as to the Film and Design departments at Stanford who had continued to design the videos for all her poems during the past 18 years and quickly published them on YouTube. Her immense audience alerted by the newspaper edition eagerly waited the video version. These videos were collected by millions. Audrey’s voice reading her poems on the video was as popular as any singer in her era.

 

Two days later Ron read it for the first time in the Times.

 

After Ron read the poem, he waited until dinner before he and Audrey talked. “You have never published a poem without my seeing it first,” Ron said very softly.

“I needed to do this for myself,” Audrey responded. “I’m confused. I’m trying to find my own direction. We’re no longer addressing the needs of our country and I’m scared, really scared. When I thought of the poem, I knew it was me that is blowing in the wind. When we met with John, it made me aware of our timeline. What we’re doing hasn’t worked. We need to change. We can’t take a back seat. It is only 70 years to the end of the century. We’ll both be alive during most of that period.”

“So you have been thinking of joining John?”

“No, not that, but rather supporting him. Yes, I’m thinking of doing that.”

“You would do it against my opposition?”

“Ron, I don’t know. I admit my confusion.”

Ron remained quiet, deeply upset by what he was hearing.

“I believe,” Audrey continued, “if I endorse his ideas without you it would create confusion and even conflict in our followers. I’ll have to face many questions. I understand that if you join him that you are giving him a new power and recognition and if he succeeds in having a rebellion of sorts based on your involvement then in a sense you would be responsible, at least in part, if anyone is killed. The idea of killing does disturb me but it’s for a worthy purpose and goes far beyond the death of small numbers of people trying to defend our world.”

“That’s what John said,” Ron said bitterly. “OK to sacrifice a few for the many and the world, The idea that I could be responsible for even one death is impossible for me. The idea of supporting his having an army and sanctioning killing, borders on a kind of craziness. I’m shocked that appeals to you.”

“What is happening now could be responsible for millions of lives.”

Ron just stared at his wife. “Audrey, I can understand the appeal of his aggressive stance. It’s what entire countries do when negotiations have stalled.”

Ron paused and stared at Audrey. Hardly whispering, he spoke again. “Audrey, it seemed that you were more attentive to John than was necessary.”

Audrey never wavered in her reply. “Ron, please don’t read more into my supporting John than is there. It was more my interest in John since he is the one who could arouse the population to such aggression. Ron, let’s face it, he is the only one with a national reputation, even international, although nothing compared to you, who can possibly make changes. There is an appeal to support a new approach. We need to change.

“Global warming is not going to end at 450. It’s now going up 4 ppm each year and nothing seems to be stopping it. We need to be more forceful. I’m desperately afraid. I think we need to take a stand with him and you should consider doing it.”

“Audrey, I don’t want to hear anymore. It’s enough. I don’t agree with you. I think that John may end up being disruptive to any chance of stopping global warming.”
“What do you mean? He is well liked and respected. His ideas won’t be ignored.” “You don’t know what people will think. I’m not the only one who opposes killing for any reason except possibly for self- protection.”

Audrey took a deep breath and seemed to be controlling crying. Slowly, almost mechanically, she went to Ron and put her arms around him. “Ron, I love you and what’s happening between us is very upsetting. You also have seemed to have been in a deep funk since John visited us. Actually, even before he visited, you seemed to be depressed and not doing anything. I’m concerned for you.”

“I’m all right. I’m just trying to sort things out.”

“Darling, what’s going on with you? What’s the matter?

“I don’t know. Just leave me alone” Ron uttered barely audible.

“Please tell me.”

“I don’t know. Just leave me alone.”

“I can’t just leave you alone, I love you and our having this argument is very upsetting.”

“Look, Audrey, I am having real difficulty in accepting your turning from me to support John.”

“I’m not turning from you. Can’t I have ideas that are different from yours. Don’t assume that because we have seen everything similarly that I don’t have my own mind.”

“Of course, you have your own mind. I have always supported all your ideas even if different because our common goal was identical.”

“Well, it is still identical.”

“Granted, but the way of reaching it is very different.”

“That may be,” Audrey says, “but I don’t like to be told how to think and what to think about. There is no point in our having an argument when the conditions that were there when we started are worsening. They have become more dire.”

“OK, OK. I agree. I don’t want to browbeat you. I realize the poem was about your own inner search, but it was clear that you were sponsoring a new power. People will wonder who you’re talking about. Who is this power coming into play? You will have to answer questions about what you mean.”

“I know, I know. Just don’t tell me how to do what I must do.”

Ron shook his head, his eyes seemed to go out of focus, searching around the room. Audrey was alarmed and again went to hold him.

“What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?” Ron began to tremble and cradled his head in his hands.

“Nothing,” Audrey whispered, becoming alarmed. “You have done nothing wrong. You have worked harder than any man alive to save us. That you met obstacles and ignorance beyond anything you could have imagined is not your fault. Ron, you were not alone. Thousands of others have followed you.”

“Why couldn’t I have found a way to convince others that what lies ahead is real. It’s going to happen. No matter how much people have learned, it doesn’t matter. Nothing has changed. All I’ve done is meaningless.”

Ron cried, totally out of control. Tears fell violently, ceaselessly, endlessly. “We only have 70 years left and the century ends. All that is predicted will have happened by then. And it may be far worse that anyone knows. It’s going to happen. I can’t seem to find a way to stop it. My life has no meaning anymore.”

Audrey was increasingly worried. In her entire life with Ron, she never heard him utter such despair, such hopelessness. How could he have fallen apart so quickly? No, it’s not quickly. He has been realizing that global warming is worsening and all his efforts have not made any difference. She recalled his temporary breakdown a few months earlier when the deluge flooded their area and they were watching the National Geographic Climate special.

The progress of climate change has continued on the same trajectory predicted many years earlier. Nothing, but zero emissions, could have made a difference. Ron knows it and so does John, she thought, bitterly. Both of them are desperate. Would a rebellion just be the final step of futility as we all wait for the end?

Audrey, not succumbing to Ron’s despair, thought that Ron must have a new agenda, a new goal. John has one. Ron can’t accept that approach. What could he do that might make a difference? God knows, unless someone comes along to make a difference, this will go down in history as a failed and perhaps final attempt to ward off disaster. She couldn’t stop the vision of the frightening numbers appearing in her head. 450 ppm, 500 ppm, 600 ppm, 700, 800. It was happening now.

Ron slowly regained control and just held on to Audrey. “Ron, don’t see yourself as opposing John. Say he wasn’t in the picture. Ask yourself, what you have to do differently. Find the way you can best function now in the world. What can be changed?

Nothing will change overnight. You have nothing to lose.

“If we fail, then we’ll deal with the world accordingly. If we’re in an ice age, we’ll deal with the ice. If it’s a hot world, we’ll deal with the heat. If the world is on fire, then we’ll deal with the fire. But above all, you must look for new ways to deal with stopping global warming.

“Perhaps you can be more direct with the oil companies and the government. Figure out new ways to approach them. Perhaps attack individuals you know are opposing climate control. You can arouse your followers to be more vociferous and to not hesitate in seeking individuals to focus on. Have them clearly define their objectives and to bring those individuals into the public eye. No holds barred. Too much at stake. You can write that this is our final stand. Anyone opposing zero emissions is a threat to our survival and deserves to be cut down. You can find the words. You’re looking to overcome denial and get something changed that’s meaningful.

“Focus on zero emissions. You’re trying to overcome the handicaps that exist based on passivity and denial. People just lie around doing nothing. Maybe you can mobilize them. The world is still incredibly inactive considering what lies ahead for them. Don’t worry whether what you do relates to John’s work. He’ll go his way. You’ll go yours. Maybe in a way your aggressive stance will foster his and maybe vice versa. What’s the difference. The objective is to find a way to stop global warming.”

That night Ron went to sleep troubled, tossing all night. Early next morning he awakened terrified that an enormous bizarre creature was swallowing him alive. The nightmare stayed with him most of the morning. Slowly he understood what the dream meant. His obsession with climate control had taken his life away. Nothing else had mattered. And the greater the meaning the greater was his sense of failure. He was being eaten alive by global warming. Judgment, reality, finding new solutions, seeking new paths, all eluded him as the dangers accelerated and the fateful time period was fast approaching.

He resolved to follow Audrey’s suggestions and find a new way to fight. Until it was clear that the fight was over and we had passed into that period of no return he must not falter. John would use his own ideas and do what he needed to. There must be more than one way to expand the fight if success was to come. He fought to prevent his belief that the time for change may have already passed. I don’t know and no one knows. I must fight on with all my power and if necessary, create new beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11

 

 

A week after his disappointing meeting with Ron and Audrey, John took a long walk in a densely forested area not far from his apartment in Palo Alto where he was temporarily staying. The world seemed more alive than usual. Clouds seemed to come down to earth and hover just out of reach; trees seemed taller, more communicative; birds sang of love and joy; squirrels frolicked and scurried about; life seemed abundant.

I tried my best, he thought, to find a way to work with Barrett. It was not to be. We’re too different. He would handicap me. His time has passed. I can do it alone. Our world will not die. I won’t let it. John glanced at the first streaks of sunlight darting from the eastern sky and smiled. The daily sunrise was like a rebirth, the world is reborn every morning. The world can’t die.

As though the rebirth was internal, John now turned his thoughts to what he needed to do. There was no time to wait. His ideas were all formed and now needed action. He decided to return to Harvard, his undergraduate alma mater, and seek counsel from the more radical group in Coalition II.

In recent years, the center and leadership of the Student Coalition had shifted away from Stanford. Harvard has assumed the leadership of Coalition II under the inspirational guidance of John Curtis. Coalition I had lost its former cohesion. Stanford’s leadership was shared with three other universities, the University of California at Berkeley, Ohio State, and Texas University.

Although the governing body of the Student Coalition for Climate Control continued to recognize Stanford’s former role under the powerful support of Ron Barrett, its influence had considerably diminished. The breakup into two divisions weakened the governing group, which still attempted to exert influence over the two divisions. Ron’s loss of power with the Coalition Board of Directors was another indication of his

increasing failure to spark enthusiasm among the students. Even Coalition I veered away from Ron’s inspiration.

Ron’s inability to assume his previous leadership as titular head of the climate control groups had deeply impacted Audrey. As she watched his shift into a far lesser role in the worldwide movement to stop global warming, her focus shifted to John Curtis.

Since his visit, her interest had turned to admiration and a heightened sense of her own creativity. After the success of her first poem pointing out that a new environmental power was appearing, the ideas for several new poems had sprung up in her mind. Conflict over how to show her support for Ron troubled her as she clearly understood that he was in a vulnerable state and needed her undivided backing. For now she merely watched John Curtis’s ascent, but inwardly she increasingly admired his march to become one of the major world leaders in the environmental field.

 

Initially, John’s reaction to the events of that pivotal meeting with Ron and Audrey were mixed, but gradually, instead of a negative effect, he had become stimulated by Ron’s refusal to join forces with him. Ron’s leadership was on the wane, he believed. Even his wife appeared to recognize this, which accounted for her openly supporting him.

Her recently published poem was convincing evidence that she had acknowledged him. That poem also stirred in him the need to formally acknowledge that he and Ron would not be joining forces. Although their purposes in stopping global warming were almost identical, his method to achieve success would take a very different path.

He was convinced that the time to push an aggressive platform had arrived and offered the only remaining realistic method to control the climate. If he failed, he was determined to bring down with him leaders of the opposition that had prevented the final opportunity, in his mind at least, to prevent the coming catastrophe.

His plans quickly took shape. He would develop a separate group within Coalition II that would comprise a select group of very bright and advanced students who would see the advantages of a truly aggressive stand and would welcome the chance to participate in the development of an army.

Coalition II had become increasingly violent and often skirmished with the law when they confronted passive and ineffectual legislators for failing to pass certain environmental laws. They would frequently disrupt meetings and classes, and would burst into buildings of oil companies, banks, and even energy plants shouting slogans and cursing the workers and any executives there. Social violence from many younger citizens was increasing in frequency. Any extreme weather condition could set off countless collisions with the aggressive environmental hawks and the police.

John was counting on this new confrontational attitude to feed his new organization and foment the rise of an army of free spirited aggressive students. The die had been cast by his arranging a meeting at Harvard with the key members of Coalition II. The organization at Harvard had grown to over 1000 members giving rise to many subgroups and a very active Board of Directors.

Contacting a major figure in Coalition II, Marge Chung, he described his ideas for developing a subgroup of very bright, assertive and aggressive students who would help him formulate and develop a special group working directly with him to start a new movement to fight global warming. He preferred that the initial group be limited to about 20 students. She enthusiastically agreed and would arrange the meeting in two weeks at which time all finals were done and the students were free. She would select students who lived in the area and would be available then.

 

With less than a week to go before the meeting at Harvard, John wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle that set in motion his first step to taking over the pivotal global leadership in the climate control environment. He wrote:

 

THE GLOBAL WARMING CHALLENGE

 

Ron Barrett’s major accomplishments in helping the world understand the forces behind climate change and global warming are legion. Our direction and efforts stem from his leadership. The plight and frightening dangers that lie ahead for our civilization were made clear by his constant pursuit to stop this threat to the earth.

Ron Barrett was the first and foremost fighter against the legion of global warming deniers. Today such individuals no longer exist, although deniers of a different caliber continue to thwart the needed control. He pointed out how misinformation, misconceptions, outright lying and intimidation distorted the global warming picture for many years. With such understanding, he was able to encourage far greater use of renewable energy and elect a greater number of climate control hawks to Congress. But unfortunately, the powers to prevent real control continued to prevail.

Ron Barrett gave us information, enlightenment, shedding light on how greenhouse gases continue to increase. He was one of the first to publicize the potential danger of methane production as permafrost melted. Alas, his predictions have come true. He almost single handedly made climate control a known concept. That it hasn’t aroused the country and, for that matter, the world’s population to rise up and demand an immediately cessation of burning fossil fuels, is beyond belief.

Today, our storms are ferocious. What was once called superstorms are now normal. We speak of devil’s winds as increasing number of tornadoes are spawned and wreak havoc everywhere. Also, the sea has risen, almost one foot, consistent with predictions and in less than 70 years the sea will be three to six feet higher. Coastal lands worldwide flooded and destroyed. Many countries covered with water. Coral reefs mostly dead or dying. Wild fish populations gone. All this and more were clearly predicted by Ron Barrett several decades ago.

The dangers are clearly evident. Changes in weather related events don’t move up linearly, but exponentially. The future is upon us. How could people knowing what lies ahead and having evidence literally surrounding them daily not demand action?

What stops us from throwing out all the legislators opposing climate control and electing only representatives that will do everything possible to avert this danger? No one knows if we have passed the time when such control might have worked. We’ll never know until we reverse the atmospheric CO2 level. I pray to God that we still have time. But if we do, the change must be immediate. No delay can be countenanced. Ron Barrett has preached this need for over 18 years.

Ron Barrett’s leadership and guidance to overcome the resistance to stop global warming will remain an everlasting tribute to this great leader. He has laid the groundwork for what remains to be done to avert the coming apocalypse. That he was not able to accomplish his stated mission to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases has been due to an unconscionable and impenetrable wall established by the fossil fuel energy companies and supported by a weak and fearful Congress. The time has come when new leaders will appear and take the struggle to its next phase. We have the information. We need to act.

Ron Barrett and I met one evening less than two weeks ago to determine if we could work together and establish a combined front to fight global warming. Although our beliefs and goals are very similar, our approach to accomplishing the needed cessation of fossil fuel burning differs. After a long evening of discussion that included his wife, Audrey, we concluded that we would go our own way, and thus have two primary paths to stop this threat. We would be mutually supportive as our goals remain constant but our paths would differ.

Ron’s time as the head of the world movement to stop global warming is ending. The new leadership is open. The need for more effective direction is greater than ever.

No longer can the American people tolerate any delay in exercising all their options to finally stop global warming. You must heed this call to action. You must rise and take control of your destiny. The time is now.

 

The article was widely syndicated. The end of an era under the aegis of Ron Barrett and the beginning of a new phase in the continual struggle to stop global warming was welcoming news to many young climate activists. Their rising storm of protest seemed to take on a new life. They clamored for new inspiration and leadership. John was ready.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

 

Ron, scowling, handed the Chronicle to Audrey. “Read Curtis’s new article,” he said rather sharply. Immediately after reading it, Audrey reflected on what seemed to be a fair appraisal of Ron’s current status in the environmental field. Certainly, John was preparing to take over the leadership and made that quite clear. “What do you make of it?” she asked Ron.

“He’s looking to downgrade my position more than it is, since he wants to fill my shoes. Look, Audrey, I know that I’ve faltered and have lost my edge in the climate control arena. But I’m not down and out.”

“Of course you’re not,” Audrey affirmed. “In a way, he may be doing you a favor by lighting a fire under you. You already know my position that you need a new hook to recapture your vast audience. Keep in mind that millions of people worldwide still follow you and see you as the climate guru. Ron, you have been depressed by your lack of accomplishments long before John visited us. So I would look at this article as another awakening jab.”

Ron took a deep breath, “Maybe you’re right. I have to get out of my slump. Writing is hard and lecturing is worse. No one is calling and unless I do something, I could easily slip down the drain. I’m not blind to the need of becoming more active. I continually urge people to take stands and do anything they can to foster climate control. I need to listen to myself. I’m the one not responding.”
Audrey shook her head approvingly, “Ron, you are right. What will you do to get back on the map? You’re doing this not only for yourself but for the world. Your ideas are needed. You just have to refocus and maybe find a new direction.”

“Easier said than done,” Ron grumbled.

“That may be so,” Audrey concurred. “Keep in mind that you are normally very. prolific and have no difficulty figuring out new angles and new ideas.”

“Look, Audrey, that was yesterday, things have changed.”

“Ron, don’t let your doubts get in the way of what you’re able to do. There have been thousands of people working with you and independently and they wait for your input.”

Ron shook his head. “I think it’s all a waste of time. CO2 just keeps rising.” He grew silent.

“You’ve got to keep working,” Audrey repeated, realizing she was fighting a losing battle. “What choice do you have. People wait for your words. The deception from the energy companies continues. People want to know why CO2 is now accelerating. Unfortunately for the world you were right and predicted what was likely to happen if zero emissions weren’t initiated.

“Every time there is a new summit, the world raises their hopes and then nothing significant happens and we are all crushed. You have been the world’s beacon of hope. Honey, you’ve got to find a way to maintain the hope but also finally energize people to make this final effort to stop global warming. You’ve got to help.”

Audrey stood watching her silent husband. Tears fell down her face. Visions of the future swept over her. How easy it was to imagine overhead a torrid sun scorching the earth. Crops withered, animals dead, children crying out in thirst and pain, fires burning out of control throughout the world, gangs of hoodlums raiding entire towns. She saw people huddling in terror afraid to look out.

In her visions came surging floods overwhelming the coasts, water falling as clouds burst and towns were washed away. She tried to shake her head to free herself from these visions. They persisted. An overwhelming fear of the future weighed heavily on her.

She went to Ron to hold him and cry against his chest. Ron helplessly clung to her and together they cried. Unuttered words rattled in his throat. His despair rose and a powerful wish to cut his life short surfaced.

“I’m finished,” he screamed. “Finished. I’ve lost the battle. The destroyers have won. The world will come down. I’ve tried everything. Nothing I have done has meant anything. The economy, jobs, money, power grids, reliability, got in the way. I’m a has-been, no longer needed, a cipher.”

Audrey barely whispered, “No, that’s not true. You’ve got to keep trying.”

“I can’t keep doing this.”

“Honey, I’ll help you. Together, we’ll find another approach that will work.”

“What’s the use. Others besides me have tried. People with influence have tried and written about the future to no avail. Why are we doing this? It just leads to more failure and hopelessness”.

“There must be something you can do,” Audrey said, through her tears.

“What? Tell me. I’ve tried everything. Besides all the informational articles, I’ve written about many of our leaders. I have even tried to contact many of them. Oil giants, energy tycoons in the renewable energy field, leading bankers, congressional leaders, other world leaders. Nothing has happened. Just more lip service. I get the same run around. The same old garbage. You know their words. ‘We’ll have time to control the climate, energy infrastructure is too extensive to suddenly stop.’

“How gullible do they think I am? Years have gone by. It’s the same rhetoric. Nothing changes and more empty words flow. I can’t tolerate what is happening.”

A deep sense of futility once more overwhelmed him. He held Audrey knowing he had failed her as much as he had failed the world.

Ron struggled to speak. “Certainly, there has been a marked cutback in oil and gas use over the years, but the idea of zero emissions had never caught fire in this country nor anywhere in the world. America now produces less than 15% of the world’s CO2. The rest of the world seems oblivious of the global warming effects, although I realize that many in other countries are just as concerned as we are.

“Is John right that we need a revolution? That can’t be. I can’t allow that to happen. I’ll fight him to not give the government a reason to completely shut down the fight against global warming. He can destroy any hope left.” Audrey listened but said nothing

Ron cried. A frightening feeling of just disappearing gripped him. A vision of an impenetrable blackness descending hung over him. “The world is ending,” he cried out, “The world is ending.”

Audrey’s alarm mounted. What is happening to him? She felt her own life slipping away as she struggled to cope with Ron’s sense of hopelessness. She wanted to shake him, shake him until he again opened his eyes. What can I do?

Audrey despairingly held him more tightly. What is going to happen to him? A sudden flash of John Curtis’s face appeared in her mind. I need to call him for help. He won’t let Ron slip away or do something worse to himself. He’ll help him.

Audrey continued to hold Ron as she watched him slip into sleep. Awakening him gently, they walked together into the bedroom where she helped Ron undress and crawl under the covers and again fall into a troubled sleep. She gazed uneasily at the deep frown crossing his face as sleep claimed him.

When certain he was asleep, she left the house and while sitting in her car called John Curtis. She briefly described Ron’s desperate struggle to rise above his increasing self-doubts and depression over the state of the climate and his role in trying to stop global warming. John was very sympathetic about Ron’s plight and suggested they meet for lunch the following afternoon in Palo Alto to discuss ways of helping her husband.

 

John was waiting when Audrey arrived at the coffee shop and he rose to greet her. After a brief hug, they sat down and ordered coffee and salads. “John, I didn’t know whom to ask for help, except you. Ron has been going through a very difficult time for weeks in trying to reassess his position in fighting global warming.

“He lives mired in despair that there is nothing more he can do and all the predictions, many made by him, will come true and the feared catastrophe will take place. He goes around muttering that it will be much worse than even he predicted based on the recent acceleration of CO2. I try to talk to him and bring up all sorts of areas he can still focus on. He just glares at me as if I’m in some other world.

“John, he is so depressed. He believes the situation is hopeless. It is so disheartening. He’s convinced that whatever opportunity we might have had to stop the catastrophe has passed. He keeps repeating that even if the world would suddenly stop using all fossil fuels now, which he knows is not possible, he doubts it would make any difference. He says it would take several decades to fully end it and replace needed energy with renewable energy. I’m so scared for him and part of me believes he is right.”

Audrey stopped and struggled to avoid crying. Though tempted to go and hold her, John did not move.

“Ron continues to berate himself with his fear that no one can stop the methane coming out of permafrost and rails against the stupidity of people who refused to believe him when he wrote about it 18 years ago. It meant nothing, he would say.

“He often just breaks down and cries. He won’t see a psychiatrist. Says the problem is not his mind but the ignorance of the world to see reality. He is overwhelmed by how an entire world, especially our country, supports the breakdown of civilization. And he screams the evidence is all around us.”

Audrey finally lost control and started to cry. John, attentive and concerned, now rose and knelt beside her as she rested her head in her hands. He cautiously put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her and she leaned toward him until she found his shoulder. For a few minutes, there was no movement or words. Audrey finally straightened up, dried her tears and John returned to his seat.

“Audrey,” John said, “Ron is a brilliant writer and lecturer and has done more than any living person to bring the perils of global warming to the public. That he hasn’t accomplished what he had intended and hoped is unfortunate and eventually will come back to haunt our country and world. But we can’t turn the clock back.

“I’ve thought long and hard about what might have been done differently. The truth is I doubt if anyone could have done more than Ron. He has turned on much of the world to the dangers of global warming. That the world governments and oil companies never took the needed steps is incomprehensible. All the information needed was in print, countless times, by hundreds of writers and scientists besides Ron. Nothing moved the world to act.

“So here we are, perhaps too late to accomplish anything to gain the climate control we need. Ron knows this and has dug himself into a hole of despair that it’s hopeless. Fortunately, I don’t feel that way. Certainly, no one knows the timetable. We didn’t 18 years ago either. Maybe it is too late. But if we fully believed that we might as well go on a happiness spree and live it up the best way we can, because it’s not going to be long before the idea of happiness will disappear for most people.

“Audrey, we need to arouse Ron to take an active stand in continuing to fight global warming. He knows more about the subject than anyone alive. His word is truth to countless millions and the world waits in dread for his word that we have passed the terrible point of no return. Ron has spelled the probable signs so many times most people could recite them in their sleep. It always sits in the back of my mind, but never impedes my going forward.

“As you know, my approach has taken a decidedly aggressive turn. I don’t know whether it will be positive or negative by deciding to actively fight the government since in the long run they are the deciding voice. But I have no doubt that we need to go on a war footing to make the government listen.”

Audrey seemed perplexed as she listened to John. How can he help Ron, she wondered. “John, Ron has almost a mental block to taking up arms or fighting actively or hurting people even if it might be the only way left. Actually, he feels that by going against the government with an armed force can only lead to defeat and failure, and the probability that some sort of barrier will evolve that will forever stop them from fighting global warming.”

“I understand his position,” John said without rancor, “but other approaches haven’t worked. Audrey, without any doubt, I believe that becoming aggressive is now the only way to go. But to get back to Ron. What we have to do is find something he can do that might actually help people change their mind and come out more actively against global warming.”

“You have something in mind?” Audrey asked.

“Yes, it’s the one area in which Ron is a world expert, and that is the impact of the breakdown of permafrost as the most dangerous and yet most unclear factor that will influence our future. I believe, as does Ron, that once that is out of control all attempts to control global warming will be fruitless. It’s the one area that perhaps he can raise the fear and guilt for not doing what is necessary to stop CO2 accumulating.

“You well know that there is nothing we can do to stop the breakdown of permafrost. It’s happening over millions of square miles of the Arctic north. Have you recently checked out Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and the entire continental shelf. A large percentage of it has already started to melt. No wonder Ron is so scared. It’s even scarier than having the western part of Antarctica break off and raising the seas 20 feet.

“I have friends who have walked in Greenland and have told me that the ground is so soft that sometimes it breaks under your feet. I’m sure you have seen videos of the methane lakes. If it weren’t so frightening, it’s a true spectacle when they light the methane and flames burst high into the sky.

“Audrey, when I read Ron’s recent paper on methane that he wrote last year where he quoted many scientists who believe that there is a feedback loop in effect, it pushed me toward the idea of fighting the government. At what point methane production is sufficient to elevate the temperature alone is uncertain. As Ron has pointed out we may have already reached that point. Apparently no one knows if stopping the rise of CO2 to under 600 will cause the permafrost to reconstitute. If not, then the game is truly over.”

“So even if we managed to stop CO2 we’ll never know for many years if it has slowed down methane production.” Audrey said.

“I’m aware of that,” John replied. “We have no choice but to go ahead and just stop burning fossil fuels.”

Audrey looked closely at John and felt that like Ron he was totally tuned into the climate. Yet with all his knowledge, much learned from Ron, he decided to take a new and highly aggressive stand. He must be scared too, she thought.

“I think that focusing on methane would be a good subject for Ron. I know he has felt that is our Achilles’ heel. If he could arouse greater fear and make people believe that we may already be there and there is no further allowance for time for zero emissions, he could get into it.”

“I think that Ron could sink his teeth into this,” John said.

“Is there anything else he could do?” Audrey asked.

“Yes, though I’m not sure how. If he could make people more guilty about their passivity, he might have a second weapon.

“Who knows, if he became willing to take a stronger position, he might even join with me for a two pronged attack on this problem. Audrey, I’m not hiding that I share Ron’s belief, the difference is I’m not stopping to find out. If in 20 or 50 years all the predictions have come true, it won’t be for our not trying.

“I sometimes live in terror trying to imagine what the world will become. I just look around now and realize how much it has already changed throughout the world. I used to enjoy occasionally visiting LA and now the idea of doing that is repugnant. It is so dry and hot. Just buying a bottle of water is like paying for a meal. It’s a lot worse than living with our super storms that make us feel like drowning rats. God, even as I say these words I’m like the rest of the people who just accept that is how it is.”

“John, that is one of the biggest problems. We just adapt to the change. On a day to day basis and even year to year basis, we can adapt. Then the years go by and we just accept a world that would have impossible only a few years earlier. Ron felt that was one of the main reasons that preaching the need to stop global warming was so difficult. People didn’t see the urgency or see the changes happening the next day or even the next year.

“Then we would have a short extremely cold spell and people would forget the heat and think there is no global warming. Ron has said that if the Gulf Stream finally stops flowing and the warmth it has brought to Great Britain and Europe stops, the continent will become much colder since its latitude is similar to Nova Scotia. Europe would slowly go into a minor ice age even as the years get hotter. How do you make people understand that it was caused by global warming? Europeans would think that global warming was a hoax. Of course, at the same time, America would be sweltering. You know this, of course,” Audrey ended.

“Yes, and when that finally happens I imagine that we would have passed the time when we could have done anything to stop global warming,” John said.

“Tell me, Audrey what do you intend to do with your own writing that has been a major source of information and inspiration for many people fighting for climate control. You must also be very disappointed that your poetry, coupled with Ron’s work, didn’t produce what you both wanted.”
“That is true,” Audrey responded. “I feel the need of doing something but it’s hard to work living with Ron who is so negative and discouraging. I need to emotionally separate from him and get moving again. Like you, I’m not assuming it’s over. I’m just not sure what areas I should focus on.”
“Can I make a few suggestions?” John asked.

“Of course, I would welcome your ideas.”
“Audrey, you have a style of poetic writing that has captured the hearts of countless people. Every subject you have selected has hit a responsive note for most people. Your many poems about the population didn’t stop the rise but such poems are still needed. Also writing about the disruption of families, confusion of children growing up in this world and hearing about the dangers that seem always present, social unrest and the increase of violence is definitely needed. Even while you write about coming solutions and activity to stem global warming, you need to point out more ways to adapt and learning to live in an increasingly unfriendly world.”
“John, thank you for the encouragement. You’re absolutely right. I can’t stop. The people need more understanding, not less. If global warming isn’t stopped we all need ways to live in a very inhospitable world. I also have to write about discouragement and hopelessness. After all, if Ron feels the ways he does then millions or billions may feel the same way.

“I’m so glad I called you,” Audrey said warmly. “I needed your pep talk for myself, as well as your ideas for Ron. I’ve got to get back. Ron could awaken at any time and I should be there.”
“I also enjoyed our meeting,” John said. “Could I suggest that we get together for lunch again soon? I would like to see you and also catch up on what is happening to Ron.”

“Of course, I would also like that. Want to make it next Thursday at the same time and same place.”

“That would work fine,” John said. “Tomorrow morning, I’m actually heading out to Harvard for an initial meeting of 20 students members of Coalition II to discuss putting together another organization, perhaps within the Coalition, to determine if my ideas I’ve told you about seem feasible, but I’ll be back next week.”

“I would love to know what you do decide about your plans. Are you going to discuss developing a camp and perhaps an army?”
“Not certain that I’ll bring that up this time, although I intend to play it by ear and if it appears timely I’ll broach the subject. We have no time to waste and I’m inclined to move things along rapidly.”

When they rose to say goodbye, Audrey gave John a lingering hug and a warm kiss on the cheek. As she left the restaurant, John watched her walk away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

 

John awakened the following morning at 6 AM to overbearing heat. His flight was 10:10 AM. The outside thermometer registered 91 degrees. Another one of these scorchers, he murmured silently, as he checked the day’s temperature range and saw the predicted high was 112 F. The computer indicated continuing heat over the next four days with some relief during the weekend. Grimacing, he quickly checked Boston and immediately realized that the heat wave was covering the country, not unusual in recent years. Boston’s high was predicted at 111 F coupled with high humidity.

During a light breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit, John thought of his meeting with Audrey. She must be about 10 years older than I but she certainly hasn’t lost any of her beauty. She’s so unhappy with Ron. No wonder her writing has dried up this past year. Well, if nothing else, perhaps I can stimulate her to write again. I could offer her ideas to support my position. Would she be open to that idea? What if Ron found out I was seeing her? John almost laughed out loud realizing he was fantasizing about establishing a secret relationship with her.

For a few moments, he realized that he had been lonely for a close relationship with a woman during the past few years. Though maintaining some sexual and, at times, mentally engaging connections with women, they had been sporadic. His true stimulation came from meetings, colleagues, close male and female friends, people wanting contact with him as part of their own agenda. He was always willing to meet with groups and individuals if he felt they could contribute to the fight against global warming.

John was just a kid when he first heard of the alluring love affair and romance of Ron and Audrey. As were so many others, he was swept into the mystery of Audrey’s beauty when he saw her first video and also learned that Ron and Audrey had united to protect the world. Like much of the world he would await her poems and cherish the great videos made from them. Audrey appeared in fascinating visions and fantasies as she followed the subjects of her poems. She might be floating in space or walking among scenes that illustrated the poetry. He had fallen in love with her beauty and soft voice and the mystical vision that enveloped her. Many other boys and men had also succumbed to her vision. But it was clear to John that she was another part of Ron’s mystique, as he was with hers.

I’ll do anything to help her, he thought, but my fantasies are for me alone.

 

In the near stifling heat and humidity John was picked up at the Boston airport by Marge Chung, the studious, serious and loquacious student John had selected to temporarily lead his new organization. He had known her for several years as the most outspoken student advocate in Coalition II. Already by her sophomore year, as an undergraduate, she stood out by forming and chairing several groups within the Coalition. She began to write articles and gave lectures around campus, arousing students to support various initiatives fostering the fight against global warming.

At dinner, they discussed ideas for the weekend meeting. Taking her into his confidence, John described the possibility of making this group the prototype of students who would meet in camp settings outside of university grounds. This would give rise to students meeting in many such unique camps throughout the country where students would be trained in the art and skills of direct warfare against the primary opponents fighting global warming.

Since the government was the primary obstacle, the fight would commence against local and state groups and eventually go directly to Washington. Ron was cognizant that the fight, though direct, would not be able to win against the US government. The struggle had to take other paths, such as methods to awaken the support of passive members of Congress.

The willingness of the participants of this new organization to fight and even to lose their lives was strictly to alert the opposing government of their seriousness. If it came to a real fight then they would be ready. In the meantime, they would prepare the public for such a war and hope for massive support. They would paint the picture of the future even more clearly and spell out the future as a living Hell. They hoped that artists, musicians, writers and many politicians would support them. They were fighting for the health and life of the country and world and wanted no personal gain. That would be emphasized.

Marge concurred and added that the appeal of the students should move over half the country. Most of their parents, and current and former members of the Coalition and similar environmental organizations would support them. John believed that financial support would come their way. The world’s condition was clearly dysfunctional and worsening. People wanted to hope for change. John’s program could provide such hope.

Today’s heat was a case in point. Twenty years ago, no one would have predicted temperatures of this level. People now lived in a climate that enervated the population. In recent years the temperature almost always soared into the 100’s during the summers. Rarely did it dip below 90. Even the winters had become warmer and at times seemed like summer. Ferocious storms often flooded Boston and the surrounding area. No one needed to read about the weather changes. Everyone was living in it.

After dinner, Marge took John to his hotel and arranged to pick him up the following morning at nine after he had eaten. The meeting was called for 10.

 

When John walked into the conference room on campus, the murmurs of greeting were subdued. An ominous quietness hung over the meeting as John sat down at the head of the table. He knew most of the students slightly, and a few fairly well. Marge, sitting next to John, rose and briefly introduced John to the group. “We are gathered here today to discuss how to find new ways to break the impasse in controlling the climate. I believe that everyone knows John who will now take over the meeting.”

No applause. No restlessness. Only attentiveness.

“Hello, everyone. Although I am acquainted with most of you It would be helpful that when you first speak you introduce yourself by first name. Both names if you desire. I called this meeting for the express purpose of developing a think tank to explore new ideas to advance our fight to stop global warming.

“There is currently nothing new in the long and intense struggle we have all endured for years. However, during the past 20 years, primarily under the guidance and inspiration of Ron Barrett, many things have changed in our understanding of global warming. The world is a better place because of him despite the increasing dangers we all face.

“Unfortunately, CO2 has continued to rise. There has not been a single down year since Ron became our leader. As Ron has repeatedly pointed out that no matter how much information we share and how many people believe in the dangers of global warming until the CO2 starts to retreat it is all “hype” using one of his favorite words. All the accumulated knowledge, tens of thousands of active fighters working to stop global warming, widespread government support, the backing of big business, and all religions have meant essentially nothing. We are still on track to reach the danger zones written about many years ago.

“This year we have attained what was once considered the highest CO2 level that we can sustain if we want to maintain some semblance of our civilization. 450 ppm of CO2 was that limit. I needn’t emphasize that 450 is now considered merely another number as we inexorably soar toward the dreaded levels predicted for the end of the century. It is clear that the climate is increasingly out of control. Not only is there no hope that 450 will stand as the highest point of CO2 but earlier forecasts of 650 by the end of the century have been extended to 850, 950 and beyond.

“With an approximate elevation of temperature by one degree Celsius for each 100 ppm of CO2 rise we may be looking at a temperature rise of six or seven degrees Celsius if the higher predictions are reached. No one knows if it is even possible, at this late stage, to bring down the temperature, but we have no choice but to continue to fight. Many people live in despair, hopelessness, even feeling, why fight, since nothing can be done anyway. The only way that we would have had a chance in the past was to have zero emissions. We still require zero emissions.

“If we were to stop fossil fuel burning completely today, obviously impossible to do, the temperature would still continue to rise for many years and possibility for hundreds of years based on the accelerating breakdown of permafrost and the enlarging scope of the effect of methane. This you well know.

“The purpose of our meeting is to try to find a new and hopefully effective method to make this one final attempt to win our battle. Whether we can achieve such a goal I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. Any questions up to this point?” A few hands went up. John nodded to the young woman on his left.

“My name is Angela. I have often thought that everything I’m doing for the Coalition is a waste of time. I was hardly able to get here today. It’s so hot outside. I didn’t want to move out of my apartment where the air conditioning helps somewhat. I wondered what would happen to the air conditioning if we stopped using gas. Would solar and wind make up for what we would lose considering how hot it is? Maybe we should spend our time learning how to live in this world. After all, what else can we do? No matter what we do here today, nothing drastic is going to happen, I already know that. John, I don’t mean to be so pessimistic but what I’m telling you, a lot of my friends also believe.”

“Thanks, Angela,” John responded. “I’m aware that your feelings and beliefs are commonplace. That’s partly why I called this meeting. If we let our negative beliefs overwhelm us then we essentially say that global warming has won and we are going to live in real Hell. I, for one, refuse to accept that.”

John turned to his right and nodded to a student slouching over some papers on the table before him. He picked up a page randomly and waved it. “My name is Baron. I’ve collected hundreds of article from writers all over the globe. I brought some with me. Anyone who wants to read any of them can do so after the meeting. In one way or another, they show anger and frustration and hopelessness at the changing world.

“People are scared, angry, unable to get up and do anything to help, Most have given up and only feel terror or fury. Mobs are forming outside embassies. I know you read the same things. But listen for a minute. Young people are attacking shopkeepers if they refuse to give them water, even when there may not be any. People are being killed seemingly for no reason except getting in someone’s way who is trying to buy food or get water.

“It’s all over the world. All the rivers fed by the former glaciers and ice packs of the Himalayas are running drier than before and people don’t have an adequate supply of water. That’s a billion people. How many here remember when California grew so much food it fed a good part of the world. No more. I laugh when I see pictures of Glacier National Park. No glaciers there any more.

“I read that the western shelf of the Antarctica may split off any year now. I laugh until I cry. You know what that means. Another 20 feet rise in the sea. 20 feet. And that is only a small part of the Antarctica. Goodbye Florida, New York, Boston, and a lot of the world. And we blithely go on burning fossil fuels. Is the world mad? Have we doomed our civilization and world?

“I read more and more about the 22nd century and I scream in terror. The 23rd century is beyond a disaster. There won’t be any world that we’d recognize. Many are predicting that all humans would have died by then.

“And do you know that there are still people who scream at us, the people who are trying to fight this impending catastrophe? They either won’t believe us or totally close their eyes to what is obvious. They scream at us. “Let them roast. Would serve them right.” Serve them right? What are they talking about? Who are they? That’s us. Us. Are we just dumb? Why do we stand for it? What can we do?”

Baron sat down. Gloom had now settled over the group and John found Marge’s eye briefly before turning back to the 20 young people sitting with him.

“Does anyone have another view of our life and future?” John asked.

“There is no other view,” a voice came quietly from the table.

“Is that the belief of all of you?” John asked.

No one answered him.

“Is there anyone here that has some hidden hope, some belief that maybe we’re going to turn the corner?”

No one spoke.

“Not one of you has hope. You all think we’re going to Hell?

“Please speak up,” John spoke out. “The purpose of this meeting is to discover what ways we could possibly exert some influence on what appears to be an intractable problem.”
A tall, thin young man uncoiled from his chair and stood up. “My name is Manish. I’m from part of a country that has over one and a half billion people. India is now suffering more than most countries. It is so hot that people appear to be dying on the streets. People go to the riverbanks and lie in the mud if they can find room. No one does anything, unless he has to. A few people work in air conditioned places and run the country and factories and schools but most Indians are dying or want to die. It’s the same all over Asia. China tries to hide. Pakistan is rolling in heat. Bangladesh is partly flooded. You would think with all the advances in medicine that people wouldn’t be dying of disease, but they are. With so many people, you hear doomsayers exclaim it’s good for India. Helps get rid of our excess population. Imagine saying it’s good for our country. What will they say when it’s twice as hot, if that’s conceivable? Anyway, I just want to add my voice and agree with what you already heard.”
“Anyone with a more positive viewpoint?” John finally asked.

No one stirred.

“Not one of you. Is this true of the entire Coalition?
“Yes,” several voices spoke at once.

“OK. I get the picture. Let me ask a different question. Remember the purpose of the meeting is to determine if we can find a new method to address or even attack the issue of global warming.

“What ideas do you have to try to break this impasse? Use your imaginations. I know that we have been struggling to find solutions for years so my question is not new. The difference is I want to take us beyond what has been done. Keep in mind that this is only a discussion to gather ideas. This may be the beginning of a think tank to explore such ideas in the coming months and even years. We have nothing to lose. At the worse, we continue the same process.

“So think outside the box. Anyone. Any ideas. Don’t be afraid of saying what you think. Nothing is too absurd. In this terrifying period, no idea will be discarded. Instead we’ll examine everything. Together we may be able to find a new path.”

For several minutes, John said nothing and no one spoke. Finally, a tall, slightly overweight man with long hair dangling down to his shoulders rose. “Everyone here knows me. I have many names. Big mouth, for one and Sputter brain and also Smart ass. A few even call me Dave. I’m the one who gets up on a box every now and then and spouts off about the stupid people who surround us, including many at this university. After all, we’re in a famous university and nothing they’ve done has made any difference.

“Like the rest of the ignorant world, they say everything has been done. So that ends innovation and new ideas. Instead, we hear, we’ve done that, we’ve marched everywhere, we’ve written every imaginable letter, article, made movies, wrote books, but so what. That’s obviously not what is needed.

“I tell you nothing will change our future unless we fight for it. I mean fight. Get it, fight. Not words, I mean guns. You hear me, guns. We need a new government and you tell me how we’re going to get one without fighting for it. How do you think this country became free. It took one great leader, Lincoln to say this country will be unified even if we have to die to preserve it. And countless people died and we got a unified country.

“Now if things continue to go the way we’re headed, we’ll have no country. None. And who will we blame? I say we blame ourselves. If we’re too stupid and afraid to demand a change then we deserve to die. I’d say then, let’s get the hell out of this room and get drunk and pretend the real world doesn’t exist. We can live boozed up and not notice the world coming to an end.” Dave threw back his head and laughed and then abruptly stopped.

Ending his diatribe Dave went to his backpack and took out a bottle of whiskey. “Anyone want to join me in a drink,” he announced, a sardonic snort echoing across the room.

John stared at him for a moment before again addressing the group. “Is there anyone here that does not feel hopeless or angry? The three of you talked of doubt, fear, anger, frustration, even guns, war, even fighting the government and starting a revolution. Does anyone feel optimistic, positive? Does anyone feel that 450 will top it off somehow? That maybe we have reached equilibrium. What makes all of you so pessimistic?”

“It’s what we learned from you and Ron and our own studies,” Marge entered the discussion. “Just look around. You see the results. We don’t have to imagine anything. It is happening. We have all learned what America was like just 18 years ago by reading Ron’s and Audrey’s early works. We know the difference. We all expect that the living Hell described is happening and will only worsen. John, you need to understand that we expect the catastrophe to occur. We have no idea what will actually stop CO2 from continuing to rise. But, nevertheless, we’ll never stop fighting. We hope for a miracle.”

A young woman rises. “Good morning. My name is Mandy. I don’t expect a miracle.” Her words were spoken so quietly that everyone in that room became very still. Her voice seemed to soothe and caress. John gazed at her. She seemed to emanate an aura of peacefulness.

“When I awakened this morning,” Mandy continued. “it was so hot, I took an ice cube from my freezer and rubbed it over my body. I was undressed and just breathed deeply and prayed to God that I would be able to live today without dwelling on the weather. I read in the papers that the heat wave is covering the country. The whole country. They say it will set new records everywhere.

“We want to stop this. How could it get worse? Why don’t we finally just accept what is happening. We know about the energy crisis. It is happening. We can’t turn the clock back. They predicted 114 degrees in Boston today. We need to live the best way we can. Our weather cycle goes on and on. Every year it seems to get worse. Fighting it hasn’t helped. John, I just pray that I can find peace as I watch the world unravel.

“I don’t know if I want a revolution when I’m not sure anything can be done and if we had a revolution it would be chaotic. I don’t want that. I’m just having trouble finding peace. I would like the world to find more peace when everyone is so afraid.”

Mandy stopped and looked around at the other participants. “I think I’m different from everyone else here. I don’t know why Marge selected me for this meeting. Maybe it’s because I write poems. I write poems like Audrey and they print them in the Harvard Crimson.” There was a murmur of recognition and clapping for her.

Marge smiled saying, “Mandy is right about her being a wonderful poet but I felt her viewpoint, which is clearly expressed in her poetry was needed here today.”

She nods to Mandy who goes on, “I talk about happiness and becoming spiritual and to use the hard times for personal growth. It is so hot and we can’t go anyplace to change it. Maybe, by focusing on peace and inner contentment even as things get worse we can manage to live in these terrible times.” Mandy stopped again and seemed to tremble even as she struggled to maintain self-control. She appeared on the verge of tears.

John rose, went over to Mandy, knelt and put his arm around her. He did not speak. No one did. When she appeared to have found needed control, he went back to his chair. “Mandy, your words are important to us. None of us knows what is the best course of action. I believe we must accept the future that is in store for us. If it can be changed, then we all benefit. If it can’t, we all suffer.

“There are many ways to deal with your own feelings. Your words give many people peace and an inner way to dealing with their pain and fear. The contrast with Dave’s anger and wish to revolt needs to be examined. Each individual eventually will find his or her way to deal with this crisis. Dave’s view is the larger picture to see if a way exists to make a dent in the resistance to bring down CO2.

“Our objective in this group is to think through every avenue we can, and to present to the public alternatives, but especially to find new ways to overcome the impasse. There is no more time. All these years that have passed and people literally have pleaded for zero emissions, but nothing has happened. CO2 goes up and up and there is no evident end in sight.”

John nodded at Marge who stood up and announced a brief break. Coffee and soft drinks were available.

 

During the break John and Marge conferred on the advisability of bringing up the idea of a camp where army type training could take place. John felt that by referring to Dave’s remarks, opening up such a discussion would be easy. Marge concurred and they decided to follow the lead of the participants and play it by ear.

“Everyone settled down and have enough refreshments?” John asked.

Grunts and yeas leading to quietness was the cue to get started. “Let’s start and see if anyone has any questions or comments.”

Surprisingly, there were none.

“Let’s start with a question to all of you,” John said. “What do you think would happen if this country went to zero emissions and the rest of the world continued what they are doing?”

Dave immediately stood up and exclaimed in a loud voice. “I think that the world would rise up and there would be a massive revolution. Can you imagine if we reached that state with all the publicity and acclaim that it was the only way to save the world and all the other countries continued burning fossil fuels. I don’t think people would tolerate that and I, for one, would applaud it and encourage worldwide revolutions. We’ve got to get this problem under control. No ifs, ands or buts,” he ended grumbling.

A husky man with a deep voice spouted off. “My name is Ed. “I think that having a revolution is probably the only way we’re ever going to defeat global warming, but I also kind of like what Mandy said. Anyway, if we alone have zero emissions I think that the world would laugh at us saying we’re in some other universe. I think they would say that it’s too late and let’s just do the best we can to live this way. That’s what I think would happen.”

Another young man rose without introducing himself. “Let’s not get carried away and think that the world cares a damn what we do. Maybe we supply them with oil, gas and coal but that doesn’t endear them to us. They think we do it just for profit and that makes us responsible for CO2 continuing up.

“I think they’re right. If it weren’t for the power and money do you think we’d be in this predicament. Our leaders live in some fantasy world. We’re going down the tube and despite all the renewables ordered and built, the real problem doesn’t change and it’s true over the entire world.

“We deserve to suffer and burn in Hell. We did this to ourselves and I for one am totally mystified by the government letting us get to this point when the probability of the apocalypse coming is right up there with our knowing that the sun rises everyday.”

John interrupted. “Ok, it’s obvious that there are at least several views on this. I think it is fair to say that we can use these few comments as the general viewpoint of what we all think. From nothing may happen to worldwide revolution runs the gamut of possibilities.

“If we actually start to end our using fossil fuels the world will have years to see whether we truly can do it. Stopping burning fossil fuels can be measured but evaluating whether it has any effect becomes the key question. Unless the world follows suit to shut down their use of fossil fuels it probably won’t show up on the yearly CO2 level which will just keep rising.

“This leads to another question. What would happen if we find a way to end our use of fossil fuels and the CO2 doesn’t change?”

“It won’t mean a thing,” a soft, gentle voice blurted out. “Why would we think that our ending it would make any difference since our percentage of CO2 production is now less than 15% worldwide. Maybe your question is really what would it mean if the entire world stopped using fossil fuels and the CO2 continued to rise?

“John,” the young woman continued, “the idea that the world would follow suit is almost laughable, but it could happen. What would that mean to the motivation of our country to do it then. In other words unless the world and the US do it together we’ll never know if it is working. The world won’t see past the idea that it makes no difference anymore and so struggling to stop using fossil fuels wouldn’t make sense. Would that be the end of our world?”

John replied, “If CO2 continued to rise beyond the end of this century, then, yes, I would say that would be the end of our world as we know it. New question. How can we induce the world to join us if we actually made a bona fide decision to make the CO2 come down?”
“Man, you’re in the clouds if you think the world gives a damn about us,” another voice spoke out. “Unless the entire world rises up together we’re just spinning our wheels. But I’m still willing to fight and see if it works. What can we lose?”

John took a deep breath and looked around at the students sitting quietly, though sensing that more was to come. “Would you be up to discussing our taking a stand on becoming more aggressive, not exactly what Dave suggests but recognizing that perhaps only a more forceful approach, including fighting may be necessary?”

“Sure, we’d like to check it out,” came several voices.

“Anyone want to begin our discussion?” John asked. He waited a few moments. No response.

“Ok,” John said, “Here’s a question. How much are you willing to sacrifice to turn back the CO2?” Without waiting for an answer, John continued. “What are you willing to give up to preserve our world? How far are you willing to go?”

The students furtively looked around at each other waiting for the first person to respond to John. Some looked specifically at Dave, who merely waited, head down.

John, somewhat puzzled over the group silence, against spoke. “How would it make the future different? How would your personal future be different? This is obviously a difficult subject for all of you. Maybe it’s because you are imagining what’s behind my question?”

A few students nodded.

“OK, I think I understand what might be disturbing you. What if I’m talking about something that might be dangerous? After all, being aggressive implies fighting, confrontation, which is different from our usual way of fighting global warming. I’d like to know if I’m getting close to your concerns. What if becoming aggressive meant giving up your life? Dave, spoke of a real fight, using guns, and spoke of the Civil War needed to unify the country and many people died. Is that what bothers you?”

Finally Dave rose, apparently more subdued. “Look, I don’t mean to freak out anyone. I just happen to think that everything everyone has tried over years and years hasn’t worked. In a sense, we’ve been enslaved by the oil culture and we’re in a trap that will destroy us. Maybe not you or me, but soon this world will not be fit to live in. We’re just sitting ducks, if nothing changes.

“Go figure. I can’t. Eight billion people are just waiting to fry or live in misery. Let me spell out what I really feel. Yeah, I’m willing to die for my beliefs. Hell, if nothing changes I’m going to either die or live in Hell anyway. So my answer to that question is I’m willing to go to any length needed to stop this madness, if it can be stopped.

“Sure, I know that without the world getting involved, we’re just going through some stupid game. So what. What do we have to lose? Maybe the world will catch on and follow us. But I don’t see anything happening unless America, does it first. We still have some sort of crazy aura for other countries. I’d sacrifice what is needed. If I were a great world leader, I would lead a revolution and use weapons. I’d try to get the army behind it and kill any bastards who stood in our way. I’d go to any lengths because otherwise life sucks and I’d rather not be part of it.”

Dave sat down heavily and barely looked at the gloom settling on the group.

Mandy now rose and looked directly at Dave who finally returned her stare. “Dave, what you are saying is so irresponsible that I have no words to say to you. I just hope that others don’t take that for the way to fight global warming. You would create a different kind of Hell.

“Do you remember what happened to the country during the Civil War? It was devastated. States were ruined. It took years for recovery and many people never overcame their losses and anger. The South gave in because they had no choice. Many black people remained in the South continuing to live like slaves for many years after the war had ended.

“With global warming there is no ending. Even if we fought a war, CO2 will continue to go up and it gets hotter. Guns won’t help. Killing people won’t either. Social unrest will create enough violence and killing. You know what’s been happening in India, and the Middle East and parts of Africa. People are going berserk and killing neighbors for no reason. The world is going crazy and you want to start a real war. Are you mad?” Mandy’s anger seemed so inconsistent with her former words and personality that for a few moments after she stopped and sat down, no one stirred.

Finally, Marge stepped forward. “Mandy, am I hearing you correctly that you would prefer to do nothing different to change our status quo?”

Mandy did not respond.

“Mandy, we do need clarification. We all respect your wish to live in peace and accept our global warming as the state of our lives for now and the foreseeable future. But since we’re attempting to find new ways to try and finally overcome this insidious and deathly weather trap, your position takes a very passive and do-nothing approach to that premise. I am curious about the feelings and attitudes of the others. How many of you, just show hands, prefer to follow Mandy’s ideas though not necessarily take the opposite one of revolution.”

Slowly she looked around at the 20 quiet, though thoughtful students. None moved. No one raised a hand in support.

After a minute or so, Marge continued. “Does that mean that all of you would prefer to find a new solution for global warming rather than take an inactive position and do nothing?”

A few nods, grunts and murmurs was all she got.

John stood up to speak. “It seems that there is a lot of hesitancy to speak out here and that does concern me since we potentially can contribute a lot of good ideas to our future. What seems to be the trouble?”

Everyone looked at someone else. A tall thin woman coughed, heads turned toward her. “My name is Harriet. I think I know what’s bothering us. A couple of days before our meeting the rumor spread that this meeting was going to demand that we make sacrifices that would be very hard on us. On listening to you, and the others who spoke, I still think there’s something going on here that you haven’t told us. John, tell us now if there is a secret agenda here.”

“Harriet, thanks for the information. Rumors have many ways of starting. Certainly we have read of how they start and how disruptive they can become in the fight against global warming. Ron Barrett, in a number of papers, made that very clear.

“Actually, there is no secret agenda though there was one subject I did want to bring up and would have before the meeting was over. However, I started the meeting with some general questions and the subject that Dave presented, though in a very violent way, was the one I was going to discuss.

“Namely, I was considering the feasibility of starting a special camp where this group and other students we would enlist would develop new skills in preparation for a real fight to stop global warming in this time period. Time is running out. We would learn fighting skills so that we might be prepared to participate in open rebellion if it came down to changing the government. The alternative would be to let things go and watch the entire world go down in flames.”

“You mean that we would develop a real army.”

“The objective of the camp would be to develop leaders who would become trainers and possibly to set up new camps and train volunteers to fight to establish a new government. Naturally, one other purpose was to show the government that we are serious and that we have reached the end of the line and change must take place. We would hope that we could translate that into action at the ballot box but it hasn’t happened yet.

“None of us wants to start a war. But we’re in one. Us against the people who have refused to take the essential steps to stop emissions. We would hope that if the reasons and ideas were presented well we would get enormous support from government and non-governments people. Naturally, that would include the army and the people in Congress who openly support us.

“Perhaps they would come out more forcibly and expose their colleagues who have prevented change. We would finally expose the greed and power of the oil industry that beyond reason have foiled every major attempt to stop the use of fossil fuels. The fact this is true all over the world doesn’t excuse us but obviously makes our task more difficult.”

John stopped and looked at the astonished faces. “Any questions about any of this?”

Four people raised their hands. John nodded to a petite slender girl, with straight black hair hugging her head. “My name is Rhonda. I’m from China and am not a US citizen. My country releases twice as much CO2 as the US into the air. Yet, despite promoting wind and sun energy and other renewables, China refuses to give up fossil fuels, even coal.

“Environmentalists in my country cry out and petition the government to stop it. They keep saying that it is bad and may get worse but the government retorts and repeats over and over that our fears are exaggerations and it won’t be long that the temperature will start to come down. Everyone knows they are lying but there is nothing we can do. Our country in so many ways has continued being dominated by a Communist clique even though we’re the richest country in the world. I, for one, would willingly support such a movement especially having a leader like John.”

Turning around, she slowly looked at each person. “Look, I know most of you pretty well and you know that I’m not anyone who is easily riled up. In this case, I’m not only angry, but I’m frustrated. I get really upset when I just sit around and do nothing. I’m only 20 and at the end of the century I’ll only be 90. No matter how much I read I can’t imagine what it will be like to live in a world that is much hotter than this one. And it’s going to get much, much hotter. I get really scared when I hear temperatures as five or six degrees Celsius higher.

“That’s when I get really mad when I think that other people have decided how we’re going to live. I know that’s how it has always been. But this is so different. Everyone suffers and the entire planet is becoming unglued.”

Stiffening her resolve, she lifted her head higher and compressed her lips. “I have sometimes imagined getting a gun and killing all those people in our government that have done this to me. I‘ve never admitted that before to anyone and I’m ashamed of my feelings, but I can’t help it. When I finish college next year, I have to return to China and I hate the idea. If you think it is hot here, it’s worse there.”

She paused. “I’m sorry I talked so much,” she now whispered. “I didn’t know how mad I was.”

Another girl rose and went over and put her arms around Rhonda. She spoke out. “I’ve felt the same thing as Rhonda and I’m not ashamed at all. How can people do this to us? We’re not animals.”

John nodded to a young man previously slouching in his chair, now sitting up straight. “Listen, I’ve actually been learning how to fire guns at a firing range taken there by my Dad who keeps telling me that the world is falling apart and I have to be prepared to fight for myself and family. He keeps talking how they are crushing the life out of him. He never tells me who they are but I know what he’s talking about.”
Another girl, “I dream of being like Joan of Arc and leading a revolution.”

Others now stood up and declared that fighting and aggression were not foreign to them. They would welcome an opportunity to fight against their country that ignores them. For many minutes, the admissions and confessions stirred further anger as the students found much support in their fantasies and beliefs. Many admitted surprise at discovering that others shared their rage.

John just waited. Looking around he noticed that Mandy had shrunken in her chair and was clearly ignored. When he felt that the mood was clear and the idea of aggression was openly accepted by most of the students, he again stood and spoke. “I see that most of you have experienced intense frustration, fear, anger and even hopelessness about our accelerating global warming and becoming more aggressive is not a foreign idea. Before taking the next step, I want to acknowledge that Mandy’s viewpoint must not be forgotten.

“There are many other people in this country and world who would like to pretend that we live in the only world that there is and must therefore accept it. Make the best of your life is their motto. However, you,” he said forcibly, as he looked around at the group of 20 students, “have clearly established a need for active change where the use of aggression is possible and even might be necessary. Such a viewpoint requires careful scrutiny and evaluation by all of us. Many other questions need examination. For example, what does it mean to give up your life to stop global warming? Would anyone do that besides Dave?”

John stopped and waited. At first everyone was silent and then a few rather quiet sounds of “sure, yeah” timidly appeared. But doubt and hesitation prevailed.

John now added, “How aggressive are you willing to become? Have any of you looked forward to doing anything more aggressive than what Dave suggested? Does the idea of a revolution scare you?”

Again John waited. Ed slowly stood up. “I’d die for my beliefs,” he said almost proudly. “Right now I can’t imagine having children or even wanting to live in a devastated world. I think we need a war. It’s for our life, at least having a life worth living.”

Harriet spoke while seated. “I’m willing to become more aggressive and even be part of a revolution. I don’t want to die, but I guess if there is a revolution I’d be on the side of those fighting global warming and if I die for the cause, so be it.”

A few others nodded and murmured agreement. John didn’t wait for a larger number of students to openly say they would become more aggressive. Instead, he asked another pivotal question. “Has any of you have written anything to support a more aggressive stand?”

Half the students raised their hands.

“What sort of things have you written?” John asked.

“I wrote an article berating the oil companies from taking much needed water to drill for unneeded shale oil and gas.”

Another student spoke up. “I also wrote about fracking and emphasized how they are polluting the water and using water needed for drinking and agricultures. I got all sorts of support. but also emails saying I was unpatriotic for wanting us to stop developing the oil industry that was giving us unprecedented prosperity in these terrible times.”

“I came down on the rare renewable energy companies who use gas for energy to develop wind energy,” Dave added. “Only a few do that but it seems preposterous to sponsor renewable energy and use fossil fuels to develop it.”

Another student spoke out, “I wrote an article naming China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, and Canada, in addition to America, who have refused to order zero emissions.”

John entered the growing dialogue. “Does that mean we should consider whether we’d take our more aggressive position to other countries? I’m aware that it would be best if America led the way. But if some other country decided to finally go to zero emissions we could use them as the forerunner for the future for all other countries.

“That raises another issue,” John said. “We decided that we can’t keep this organization secret and we need Harvard’s approval to go ahead. Should we consider not being a part of the Coalition and instead exist outside the University?”

“I’m Jules. Why not remain a member of the Coalition?” he said. “After all, if we can energize the population to take a decidedly fighting attitude and the Coalition becomes aware of it then it might become a spur for other Coalition members to want to join with us. John, are you planning to keep this movement small or to expand it? Being small doesn’t carry much weight in this country.”

John pondered this view and quickly, though silently, eliminated most of the objections to keeping it separate. “Jules, I believe you are right. We should be part of the Coalition. However, what if our ideas ran into obstacles among the students and also the college overseers?” he said.

“So what,” Jules responded. “That would be nothing new to us. If we can’t deal with our own members how will we ever deal with all the objections from outside the University.”

“Jules has a good point,” Marge added. “The more I think about it the less likely keeping this outside the University would fly. We’re going to need volunteers and people to perhaps spread the camp idea to other campuses. Eventually, we’re going to need hundreds of these camps if we’re to make any stir at all.”
“For the moment let’s put this question on hold.” John said. “Instead, I’d like to entertain another way to expand this particular group, the flagship group, so to speak. Do we want other groups associated with us? How about other colleges to give us new ideas, kind of like cross-fertilization? Do we keep it in the undergraduate category? If we became interested in a revolution, would any of you want to participate? Would guilt or fear of authorities enter the picture? Would we be breaking any of Harvard’s rules or regulations? Would your parents object?”

“Might is right,” Dave intoned and then rose. “Having other students outside Harvard is a good idea. Cross-fertilization, as you put it, having greater number of thinking members would strengthen us. I think the real question is would this so-called think tank benefit from being a larger group, say 20 new members giving us a total of 40. All the new members would be from outside Harvard. We could use other points of view and other schools will have different influences and certainly different students with different ideas. Do you have anything specific in mind about wanting to expand it?” Dave asked John, ending his comments.

“Yes, I do,” John replied. “Dave, you more or less spelled out the reasons for enlarging the group. I was thinking of perhaps adding two students from ten different schools, all in the Boston area so we could call camp meetings easily and not anticipate people having to come from far away. Any reaction to this?” He turned and looked around the room.

A chorus of positive responses made it clear that the group would be expanded.

“So what are some of the other colleges you think might benefit us?” John asked.

An enthusiastic chorus of college names made clear the idea was liked. Among the names of colleges that flew back and forth for a few minutes were several dozen that claimed more than one student’s support. After writing down those that had more than one student’s support, Marge called a halt to further selections.

By a show of hands and verbal acclaim, the winners included MIT, Brown, Tufts, Emerson, University of Mass, Suffolk, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Amherst, Clark and Brandeis. They decided to leave it with twelve since it was possible that several schools might not want to be included. Only friends of the Harvard students would be contacted and the twenty original members would be responsible for finding two additional members from each of the selected colleges.

Some concern was raised that the organization might be considered elitist since it would involve only eastern colleges and from a very small select area. To forestall such a reaction, John suggested that each new member contacted was clear that joining would include an unknown number of weekend camp outings off-campus but within the relative area of Boston. The students were in a great humor when John finally brought up the final arrangements for the next meeting.

“After all of you have made your contacts and you agree as a group that the new members selected are ones you would all support, send the names of those interested to me and I’ll arrange a second meeting at Harvard. That meeting would be forty members and essentially comprise the new think tank.

“Let me know when such a meeting would be agreeable to most of you, hopefully by mid-July during your summer break. If by some chance the group could meet earlier, I would arrange it. Either way we’ll be meeting in about one months or less, hopefully much less.

“Please, don’t any of you hesitate to contact me for any reason at all. Begin to think of new articles and even write some, if it’s feasible. Consider other activities that we’ll engage in. I want this program to start quickly and be in full swing within a month after school begins in the fall. Time is of the essence and we’re going to move rapidly.

“Also reconsider individually and among your selves some of the questions we briefly touched on such as a revolution, war, death, upholding your rights, moving aggressively against people who maintain a highly negative position. Also, think of how to expand this program to other areas and even to other lands. When we reconvene, the program will start immediately.

“I want to thank you very much for helping me get this program off the ground. None of us knows exactly where it will go, whether it will prove to be the solution to our problem, and whether the obstacles will be overwhelming. We’re fighting for our future, for a livable world and for our very lives.

“Remember, I have no underlying motive of wanting to become a martyr. We’re doing this to live better and I might say we’re doing this to just find a way to live in a world that is rapidly disintegrating. Ending social disruption and abominable weather is our objective.

“I hope that all of you have an enjoyable summer and an inner belief that you are participating in a program that may be our last chance for winning our battle over global warming.”

Marge officially called the ending of the meeting but it was another hour before the last student left the room. John stayed to the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

 

As planned, a few days after John returned from his meeting at Harvard, he met Audrey in Palo Alto at same place. There was no hesitancy as Audrey gave John a lingering hug and a brief kiss. “You look like something very positive was accomplished at your meeting,” she said.

“Yes, the meeting turned out beyond my expectations and it was ended with definite plans and a roomful of very enthusiastic and highly motivated students. We’re calling ourselves a “think tank” that is about to expand from the original twenty students to forty at our next meeting.”
“Well, you have certainly aroused my curiosity,” Audrey said, “Tell me what went on and what was accomplished.”

John told of the student’s review of the unrewarding struggle to overcome global warming during the past quarter century primarily under the leadership of Ron. All acknowledged that he had truly awakened the entire world to the dangers and potential catastrophe ahead and how everything he had predicted had essentially come true as 450 CO2 and two degrees Celsius were reached and where global warming must stop.

As John related the events of the meeting, tears came to his eyes when he described the great despair expressed by the students once it was clear that these numbers were to be breached. The looming potential ending of civilization was a terrifying realization. “After that,” John said, “it took little urging to open the gate to their emotions and their anger and wish to fight for any possible improvement in their future just kind of erupted.”

John briefly described that all the students, except one, openly expressed having entertained some aggressive behavior in their desperation to win the battle against global warming. The one student who took a passive view believed that people have essentially come to the conclusion it is hopeless and we should expend our energy to help people live and adapt to the increasing heat and the coming Armageddon. The group understood that her view must not be overlooked since people will need understanding as they try to cope with the increasing effects of weather change.

John underplayed the positive response to his introducing the idea of a possible revolution and fighting the government that might include killing, dying, and doing whatever it took to win. Seeing the doubt in Audrey’s face John laughed and said that he also made it clear he was not interested in aggression for its own sake. There would be no direct fighting unless it was necessary. The students understood that he expected much support once the program got off the ground and there was a show of strength. Audrey was especially impressed with the far reaching plans for the future that included setting up other camps, if this one was successful, and quickly spreading the idea overseas.

When John finished, Audrey again hugged and kissed him. “John, I think what you are doing will take our fight to another level. If we don’t, we have no future.”

There was a brief pause as they started to eat their lunch; part way through John asked. “How is Ron doing?”

Audrey’s mood suddenly changed. “He sits around and broods. He hasn’t done any writing in weeks. He does read a lot although I’m not certain what kinds of books. Much of the time he just sits and thinks or listens to music. There is very little communicating between us. My attempts to launch a conversation are usually met with some nodding or just looking at me or looking down or out into space.

“When I point out that there are millions of people who wait for his articles, he just says that one more article won’t make the temperature go down. He sometimes adds that none of his hundreds of articles has made any difference in the weather. We no longer work together, never talk to each other about articles. He shows no interest in anything I might be doing and I’m sad to say I’ve also done nothing in this period. It’s like I’m under his spell and writing separately somehow seems wrong.

“John, I’m actually scared of what’s going on with him. He’s withdrawn. I think he’s very depressed, has little interest in even going for a walk or a drive. We never go out to dinner or a movie, which he used to love. He just doesn’t feel the urgency that has always driven him. However, he does answer emails and questions in writing. He says he’s in a period of reflection seeking new values and directions. Or sometimes he’ll say he’s working on something, but he never says what it is.”

“My God,” John exclaimed, “I wasn’t aware that he had suffered such a reversal and seems emotionally defeated what from you describe.”
“Yes, that’s it. He is emotionally dead. I am very frustrated because I see time passing and fear I’ll be drawn into his do-nothing position. I would hate myself. I need to do something now. But I’m also afraid of what’s happening to him. He won’t see a psychiatrist or therapist. Says he doesn’t need help. What he’s going through is soul searching, trying to discover new ways to save the planet.

“He never talks about you or your visit here. But I know it had an impact on him. John, do you have any ideas that I might be able to convey to him? After all, you know the field almost as well as Ron and know everything he’s done. He’s not into your kind of aggression apparently so it has to be something else.”

John looked sadly at Audrey before he spoke. “Maybe he can focus on becoming more aggressive but in a specific way like attacking more openly some of the worse offenders in the government and the energy companies who present clear-cut obstacles to our fight against global warming. Otherwise, I don’t know what to offer him, but I’ll think about it and maybe I’ll come up with some new ideas.

“However, have you thought of the possibility of our working together? I so admire what you have done over all these years. You have a unique role in offering people ideas, insight and real help in fighting ancillary problems connected to global warming that has helped millions of people. You’re being dissatisfied and not writing is affecting you and the world loses your unique input.

“Why don’t you reexamine subjects you’re known for as population, the rights of children and women, even more important in this time period when people are starving and dying of thirst. You can bring your ideas up to date and even go beyond that by offering new solutions. Population is one that is out of control with no change in sight. People ignore the consequence. Now they scavenge for food and water and don’t care that each child adds to their burden. It’s almost beyond belief how the population has soared in this time of escalating temperature.”
“John, it would be very tempting to work with you but I think it would destroy Ron, although maybe I should look at the larger picture and the passing of time. I need to think this out and see how I want to proceed. I know that I’m feeling kind of useless at a time when I should be most productive. I won’t stay in this mood for long though. I would hate myself if I did.”
Rather than wait to make another date to meet they arranged to meet in one week at the same time and place. In the meantime, they would call or use email if the inclination arises. When they parted, a brief hug sufficed.

 

After lunch, Audrey drove to Stanford and walked alone among the buildings and trees. She listened for bird calls and followed several squirrels that darted across the greens. Her mind fed her scattered thoughts touching on the meeting with John. She felt lost. What am I doing? Where am I going?

At first, she resisted her attraction to John and his appeal as the new leader fighting global warming. But slowly she felt a new awakening like a spiritual genie had entered her body. I need to become active again.

Her life had been so intertwined with Ron and their working together to fight global warming that living a separate life appeared foreign, even impossible. The idea of continuing to contribute to the fight against global warming without Ron seemed especially wrong. In addition, collaborating with John as a stimulus to her creativity and cutting her tie to Ron filled her with a deep sense of pain.

Has my life changed? Do I need to move away from Ron? I want to help him but he is so resistant. I can’t remain chained to him. I must continue my fight. She thought of what John now offered and accepted that his energy and enthusiasm appealed to her. She was slowly coming to the realization that a totally new direction was needed in their fight. Was it too late? Such thoughts flew through her mind and scared her. I can’t think that way. I’ll go crazy, if I do.

Can I just find new paths and try to share them with Ron? If he is no longer there for me, at least for now, I must go ahead for myself. What about working with John? I don’t need to do that. My work is quite independent of him but I can certainly support his views if they appeal to me and I believe they can help our fight. Why not work directly with him. Why does that idea so disturb me?

Tears filled Audrey’s eyes. I feel like I’d be deserting Ron when he most needs me. Audrey now broke down completely and collapsed under a large evergreen and let herself feel the deep sense of hopelessness that overwhelmed her. This must be what Ron feels. She just sat there totally incapable of breaking free of the despondency that pinned her to Ron.

He’s driving me crazy, she thought with horror. How can I think that when he is suffering so much? There is such a sense of hopelessness in the world and Ron has taken it into himself and it has infiltrated me. Yes, I feel hopeless. She shuddered uncontrollably as she felt that death was trying to claim her. That’s it, I’m dying. It’s coming from the world. The world feels hopeless. It is just waiting for the heat to rise until it becomes a conflagration.

Oh my God, Audrey thought, I must get free of Ron. I can’t let myself be dragged into his Hell and belief that it is all over. Audrey’s sorrow was overwhelming. Ron waits with the world, waiting for doomsday. We both must get free and fight again. At that moment, Audrey knew that she would come out of this moment stronger and finally be able to step away from Ron. I would never desert him, but I won’t become him. I must be free again.

With those words Audrey stood up. I don’t need Ron or John, I can do this myself, I can write my poems from my own heart. I know what I must do. No one really understands what lies ahead. How could anyone? We read words and scientific jargon and all the computer studies that minutely describes the future. I have no doubt it will happen just like 450 happened. But the real horror still resides only in the imagination. How could we have let this occur? Is the entire world mad?

Maybe we should just close our eyes and try to make it through the next half century. My God what am I saying? I’m beginning to feel as hopeless as I imagine Ron feels. They’ve never stop using fossil fuels. They don’t care. I don’t even know who they are. But they don’t care. We’re watching the world crumble beneath our feet. Just watching. No wonder I feel hopeless. Yes, that is what I’ll write about. And I’ll write about changes that we must now make.

Audrey walked swiftly to one of the Stanford libraries and wrote her poem.

 

THE END AND THE BEGINNING

 

In every corner of the desperate world,

Heat shrivels the soul toward decay,

Blinded by dust that swirls from deserts we made,

Water bursts from the skies and ravages the land,

Storms beat down to flood the earth,

The sea rises on and on, no end in sight.

What have we done to deserve our Hell?

 

Soon the world will not be as we know it now,

Soon man will just be stew in a pot of doom.

Where will we live?

Where do we go?

 

Our wits are frazzled, our minds berserk,

Our thoughts are scrambled and words are naught

My God, what is happening day by day,

Beauty and peace and the soul’s respite,

Have all gone, gone, to where I fear to say.

 

CO2 seeps invisible into the fabric of life,

No end in sight. No end, I say. No end in sight.

Do you know what we have wrought for so long?

Do you know what we have finally done?

Do you know? Does anyone know?

Does it matter that we have turned off the light?

We have let disaster out of the cage,

Its tentacles claw at our hearts and souls,

Covering the earth, this monster grows,

Can we fight this specter that stalks us day and night?

Can we tame it, can we? I ask. Can we?

 

My friends, what do we need to make life last?

Do we just go on to suffer our final gasp?

In this desperate time do we do nothing at all?

Or do we find a way to stop our fall?

 

We have suffered the fears of blackness descent,

We have cowered and quavered as light fled the earth,

We know the earth is fighting for life.

So much at stake and help must come,

Or our beautiful earth will be gone; no more home.

 

Who will lead the world as it faces death throes?

Leaders have long pointed the way,

One leader has paved this path and stood above the rest

But he has come to the end of his day.

Will he rise again and raise his voice?

Or is a new leader needed to rise to the test?

One who casts light upon the consuming black,

And gives hope that change will come back.

 

Who can rise up to challenge the beast, bring it to heel and lay it dead?

What giant among us can wield such a sword?

Who will rise up and return our life,

And win this battle and end our strife?

 

A new wind is coming to blow away the dust

A new force is coming to block the sun’s rays.

Fresh water is coming to wash the lands of death

My friends, something new is appearing to save the earth at last.

 

From out of the sky, the land and the sea,

A man of power, faith and good,

Comes forth to battle the powers that bring forth such dread.

To wield his strength and smote them dead.

 

Time is now to take a stand,

No matter the odds, no matter the cost.

We must fight for what is our right to live, our right to be,

And to smother the opposition for all to see.

 

A man stands ready to raise the stakes,

A man we know who has raised his voice.

You know him, we all do,

He is new on the path but walks with a sword.

 

Raised to the sky that sword will speak

And provide the path to the freedom we seek.

 

We know him as guide

We know him as leader

We know him as brother

We know him as healer

We know him as father

We know him as protector

He comes at last.

His name is John.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15

 

 

After a restless night of sleep Ron rose and went outside to get the Times and the Chronicle. On the first page of the Chronicle, the title of Audrey’s new poem immediately caught his eye. “The End and the Beginning.”

A young journalist, Grace Lansky, wrote the introduction. Her first words made him grimace.

“Audrey has not been asleep. She is back with a devastating look at the state of our warming world. Her new poem reveals much soul searching and seeking new solutions in the unrelenting fight against global warming. The poem is frightening in its clarity and reveals a new departure for her and apparently for her husband, Ron Barrett.

“What can this mean to the belief so many people share that the decline of our civilization is accelerating and the world will suffer beyond anything that can be imagined. Is she taking a new approach and linking her beliefs to a new leader? Certainly by heralding the rise of John Curtis, for he is the obvious John she mentions, are we being introduced to a new partner or merely another colleague? No matter, for John has now been linked to our beloved Audrey, which brings him a new measure of recognition and a rise in his stature. Read the poem and judge for yourself.”

The New York Times was even more explicit in its introductory comments since it added that John Curtis had established his leadership of Coalition II of The Student Coalition for Climate Control that suggests the possibility of a far more aggressive approach in our fight to control global warming.

Ron read and reread the commentary and the poem, growing increasingly agitated. When Audrey finally awakened she found Ron pacing back and forth, clenching and unclenching his fists He glared at her, fear and fury written on his face as though she were an evil apparition. She glanced at the sofa where the two papers had been thrown. Taking a step toward her, he lashed out, “What are you trying to do to me? You’ve turned against me. Are you leaving me, is that it? You want to destroy us. Leave, I don’t care. I can live without you. I see it all now. You want to destroy me and let John have the field alone. I’m still me. You think I’m washed up, a nobody. Well, I’m not and neither you nor anyone else can destroy me. You no longer love me. Leave for all I care.”

Audrey is shocked and conflicted by her fury and simultaneous overwhelming sadness at his unrelenting and vicious attack. Is he right? she immediately wondered. Maybe I don’t love him anymore. Before she could respond Ron shouted at her. “You have no right, none at all, to write anything negative about me. No wonder you didn’t consult me or even let me know you were writing a new poem. I thought we had an agreement that we would share everything. You should not have written that poem without talking to me about it.”

Audrey stared at Ron. Is that what he thinks that I have no voice separate from his? “How dare you think that you determine what I write or believe.” Her anger was palpable. “Without me you would have been nothing,” Ron snarled. “Who do you think made you? Me, that’s who.”

Audrey was unable to believe what she was hearing and for the moment lost sight that his words were governed by his anger and feeling he had lost her. “What are you trying to do to me?” she snapped back. “Stop me from thinking and acting. Well you can’t. And you didn’t make me. My voice has always been separate from yours. You’re right we have always collaborated and that also included much of what you wrote that we shared as a couple. But I would never let you control me.

“Now, if it were up to you, I would do nothing, just like you. Day after day, you sit there doing nothing. If that means you’re washed up, so be it. But I’m not and I intend to fight for our world no matter what you believe and do. My poem tells it as it is and what I feel may be a new opportunity for controlling the climate.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ron screamed. “John wants a war. You think that will help us. It will turn the government and people against us.” At that moment Ron suddenly began to cry, tears flowed down his face and he stood there seemingly hopeless and frightened.

Audrey immediately softened and went over to put her arm around him. He shook her off but she persisted and held him despite his continuing antagonism.

“Ron, you haven’t dried up,” she said gently, “But you need to get out of this depressed period. Maybe you need help to overcome this negativism. You have so much to give. There is so much to offer people. Maybe you can help people live in this awful period. Even if we stop emissions, it will take decades to start bringing the temperature down. People will suffer more and more and may need advice and encouragement.

“Maybe they can work harder to convince the world governments to do something. You can help people understand new ways to fight or at least live more comfortably. You are such a reassuring voice and millions rely on your views. You can encourage people to take a strong stand against the government and try to convince it to do something.”

Ron regaining some control just shook his head. “I have to think about what I can do,” he said in a very subdued voice, “But you wrote that poem without my even knowing you were doing it.”

“Yes,” she replied. “I was determined to get back to work. You have ignored me when I try to bring up something. You always show hopelessness and I think you wanted me to be hopeless also. I’m not and I intend to work hard. I wrote that poem alone because our ability to collaborate has disappeared. All these years that we have worked together and respected each other views, we actually wrote on different themes and subjects. Ron, times have changed and so have we. I am going alone and I hope you can too.”

“I need more time to think this out,” Ron mumbled.

“Take more time, if you need to,” Audrey said. “Keep in mind that you can use your knowledge of what global warming is doing and how people can get through this coming period as it worsens. The idea of living in this world is frightening to me and I could use your advice. Write it. Maybe you would be the other voice.

“John would take the aggressive stand and believe me he is not looking to cause a war, but if it is needed, he’ll have power to force change. We hope that he is backed by others who feel the same way, and more and more people follow his ideas. He wants to change the governments that refuse to go along with finally ending fossil fuel burning.”

“How do you know all this?” Ron, angry, quickly reacted to her words. “Do you see him secretly? Is that it?”

“I’ve seen him twice and we talked about what he’s trying to do. That’s all.”

“That’s all, what more is there. So you do collaborate with him and have turned against me.”

“No,” Audrey says, exasperated. “That’s not true. You can believe anything you want, but we’re just friends. For example, he knew nothing about my writing that poem. He’ll be as surprised as you were.”

“I don’t believe you,” Ron said harshly.

Audrey just stared at him realizing it was hopeless to convince him of anything other than what his mind conjectured. “Believe what you want,” she said. “I’ve had enough of this conversation. I will help you in any way you want to get better, I want you to know that. No matter what I do, the world needs you and you need to get back to work.

“Now, let’s have some breakfast and try to be civil with each other.”

They ate in silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16

 

 

Audrey’s poem became the impetus for much commentary and stirred John to write an article assuming the mantle of Ron. Without mentioning her poem or designation as the new leader who would energize the climate change movement, John wrote convincingly of the emergency need to stop the temperature rising any further. Having passed that milestone of 450 ppm with accelerating CO2 accumulation, the future has turned from bleak to deadly, he exclaimed fervently. The article contained a brief reference to his work with the Coalition II college students, seen as his primary supporters in his fight against global warming. He broadened his reach and made it clear that he fully accepted his new role in the continuing fight. He ended the article with a declaration of new action to break the grip of global warming.

The title spelled out his deep concern.

 

HAS GLOBAL WARMING WON THE BATTLE?

 

Time has run out. Global warming has not been contained. 2030 may be the final year we can save our civilization. We have reached that point of 450 ppm CO2, which was designated many years ago by Ron Barrett and many others, as the highest level that the CO2 can go without taking the threat to our civilization to an unprecedented level. At 450 ppm the temperature reached 2 degrees Celsius as anticipated. Increasing destabilization is beginning.

We are set to pass that mark. You must understand that the rapid increase of temperature is unprecedented. Back in 1917, the US recorded the coldest year on record. By 1998, we reached the hottest year on record up to that point.

In the past 18 years, 12 new record hot years have been recorded. Twelve! We have broken the records of the hottest year so many times it hardly makes news anymore. To put this into perspective the temperature of the earth has been rising steadily for over a hundred years into levels never before seen.

In 2100, the trajectory will go beyond the previously determined temperature of 4 degrees Celsius and can extend to 6 or 7 or even 8 degrees Celsius. No one can truly imagine living in such heat.

How much more do we need to know to finally put a complete end to this insane use of fossil fuels for energy?

 

The entire world must be aroused to take the necessary steps to stop the burning of fossil fuels. No more delay claiming that the world still runs on oil and gas and changes of that amount would be impossible to achieve. We have no choice. It will take many years to show any results in lowering the CO2 level and it may be too late. We won’t know until we stop using fossil fuels completely.

Let’s not look back at 2030 and say that was the last year we had a chance. If we continue to delay and finally do it under desperation, we could find that it is too late. The climate had taken control. What will it be like? I shudder in fear when such visions come into my mind.

What am I going to do about it?

Slowly my perception of what was needed to be done changed, as I detected early signs of instability. I watched as the sea rose nearly a foot and saw much of our coastline destroyed by storm surges and the rising water. I have faced and lived through many super storms and saw entire towns devastated by their wrath. There were sizzling days of unbearable heat and days that froze our bodies and numbed our minds in such cold we thought it must have broken the back of global warming, but we knew that it was one of the strange and deviant ways that global warming spawned its attack on us.

Europe experienced the deep freeze as the Gulf Stream that had warmed Europe for thousand of years slowed up as the temperature of the ocean rose. Larger and larger areas of the earth turned to desert, agricultural land diminished. Food shortages became widespread. Lack of water spread. Children died of thirst. And the world’s population continued to rise.

What more is needed to convinced even the most diehard deniers that global warming is on a trajectory to end the civilization that we know. We must do something now. This is not a matter of guess work or needing further science. The only unknown is the exact time when global warming becomes unstoppable. We all pray that it has not yet happened.

 

Today another approach is needed to set in motion changes that have, at least, a slight chance of succeeding. The people who govern our country must finally see the light. No more must they give lip service to change when all they do is increase renewables and convert coal to gas and the like.

Nothing has changed because the real problem was not faced. Stopping the use of fossil fuels, not just cutting back, was and is the only solution. The President and Congress must be accountable and must be forced to take these steps. They are playing roulette with our future. The future doesn’t belong to them; however, they treat it as though the needs of the rest of the country and world can be ignored.

I have decided that only a more forceful, a more determined, a more aggressive approach will be understood. I am not speaking of war or revolution, I am speaking of changing the government. The young people who will live well into the 22nd century will rise with me as well as countless others who are fed up by the utter disdain for us shown by our government.

We, as a nation, must rise up together and make our wishes known and respected. Or we would have none other to blame when the awaited catastrophe occurs but ourselves. I believe we can do it. We must do it.

 

Reading through the New York Times Ron exploded with an angry outburst. “Audrey, come here, come her immediately,” he shouted. “You have unleashed a monster who will destroy our world.”

“What happened?” Audrey hollered back, as she rushed into the living room where Ron was shaking the Times. “You gave me a scare. What did you read?”

“What did I read? You know damn well what I read. Don’t give me that innocent stuff.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” Audrey shot back.

“Your boyfriend wrote an article usurping me, deliberately, making it appear that he has completely replaced me. And it is published in the Times. The Times. How did the Times decide to publish his article, if not for you? Only you could have gotten them to do it. And on the Op-ed page. That’s your doing.”

“Ron, you don’t know what you’re saying. Until this minute I had no idea that John, and he’s not my boyfriend, wrote an article that was published in the Times. I didn’t even know he was working on a new article.”
“What do you mean, new article? You knew when he had written other articles?”

“Of course not, that was only a figure of speech. If the Times published it, it had to be new.”

“Don’t hand me that bull shit,” Ron snarled. “How long have you been seeing him?”

“Ron, let’s not get into that again. I told you repeatedly I’m not seeing him. He’s a friend, and I saw him twice for lunch, as you already know. That’s all, and I think he’s writing to do what you should be doing. To fight global warming.”

“How do you know what the article’s about?” Ron asked suspiciously.

“I don’t. I assumed that was the subject since you said he’s usurping you.”

Ron glared at her. “You set him up, that’s clear.”

Audrey just looked at him astonished at his anger and the irrationality in his thoughts. Is something wrong with him? He needs to see someone for help. Nothing seems to have changed his mind about his withdrawal and now he’s obsessed about what’s going on with John. I have to change my life before he destroys me.

On further reflection, Audrey decided to call their son, Ryan, a brilliant, 15 year-old Mountain View High School sophomore who was on his summer break and working in Los Angeles. As soon as school ended he had left to stay with close friends and do laboratory research in a small specialized computer company. Though close to both parents he had developed independence early and turned his energy toward science and engineering.

His mother briefly described his father’s depression and asked Ryan if it was at all possible to leave his laboratory job for a week or two to help her with his father. He immediately said he would arrange it.

Both parents had made certain that he was very familiar with their writings and had encouraged his growing interest in climate control. On several occasions he had helped them with research for various articles and became deeply concerned with the dreaded tipping point and the overwhelming danger that lay just ahead.

Within a few weeks after entering high school he joined the high school edition of The Student Coalition for Climate Control. When they split into two parts, he joined Coalition II without informing his parents. The more aggressive approach to fighting global warming seemed the only way to go if there was any chance to win this fight. Optimistic by nature, he refused to believe that the world was doomed and that it was too late to avoid the terrible calamity ahead.

Nevertheless, he carefully assessed new information and statistics related to global warming and came to the conclusion that most of the events predicted by the end of the century would happen long before that time. They would not occur at one time but rather spread out over many years. His rising fear was fortified by the continuing worsening of the pollution of the earth.

As a computer expert, he found no fault with current computer models nor the scientific writings of climate specialists that included his father. He was active in a number of environment groups, in addition to the Student Coalition. Unknown to his parents, he had attended a lecture by John Curtis and had introduced himself as Ron and Audrey’s son. His devotion to John Curtis followed.

When his mother called and described what was happening to his father he was almost shocked never imagining that his father would be vulnerable to fear of failure or withdrawing from participating in the global warming fight. He did not assume any problems with his parents’ relationship, although he was rather surprised at the recent article by John, recognizing the inference that he was taking over as the leader of the climate movement.

His mother’s poem had also caused him to wonder whether this was merely his mother’s way of giving another outstanding fighter against global warming recognition. His respected his mother’s wish to postpone other questions until he arrived home.

Audrey decided to make Ryan’s visit a surprise for Ron.

Following her call to her son, Audrey took her increasing independence another step by writing a new poem that she did not want influenced by the visit of her son and the joint method of helping Ron. However, she was aware that it would likely be published while her son was at home and thus he could witness any unusual behavior by his father.

The ideas for the poem had been milling around her mind for several days but until now had not been solidified into words.

In Audrey’s poem she emphasized that there was no time to falter, no time to be passive. With multiple metaphors, she raised her voice that we must push to save our civilization. There was no choice. No one must stand in the way, no one. Time is now. We may have already lost the opportunity, but we can’t be deterred from making this necessary and what may be the final step.

 

LIVING ON THE BRINK

 

From high in the sky deadly missiles attacked,

Striking deep into the heart of the country below.

Devastation appeared wherever we looked,

Raging and helpless we kneeled and prayed,

No defense we found could stem the tide,

The missiles came and we all died.

 

A violent blast stirred the underwater calm,

Pushing water to shake the coastal lands.

Water surged beyond our sight,

Crushing all creatures that defied its might.

Rain thundered in torrential bursts shattering life below its thrust,

We cried and raged and wept in pain.

Like locusts that come in endless plagues,

Destruction wouldn’t stop or heed our pleas.

Everywhere we looked, devastation had come.

In horror, we closed our eyes against the crumbling world,

Hoping beyond hope that it would stop in time.

To no avail, we had prayed in vain.

 

The enemy wields a deadly gas attacking and strangling our souls,

We’re succumbing to the gas that sweeps the land,

Destroying our minds, bodies, and lives.

The globe is its home, the sky where it dwells, the terrain its prey,

It moves wherever there is light, all is in its toxic sight,

It covers everything and leaves a deepening blight.

 

Our torment has found a home in our dreams,

We toss and turn and can no longer sleep.

We awaken to a nightmare of gagging gas

And oppressive heat that stifles our lives.

Our dreams are infiltrated with daggers of blood,

The torment never ceases that shatters our soul.

 

We are dragged down and can’t slow our terrifying descent,

My God, how do you stop this unholy war?

To bring it to bay and cut it low.

Who can seek ways to sequester the gas,

Defeat the violent storms that daily brew,

And quell the blasts that rock the shores?

 

Who alive could defeat such a mighty foe,

Who can such a person be?

We have his name; we know he’s here,

He will rise and defeat this monstrous foe,

John has come and John will prevail,

Our world is at stake and he knows it well.

 

If only the missiles and gas were real,

If only they were things we could see and feel,

We’d have an enemy to fight and kill.

But we have an enemy that hides in full sight.

Scornful, spiteful, unyielding, all in hideous blackened light,

Is there recourse to defeat this relentless foe?

 

John stands ready to take the helm,

To defeat those who ignored our pain.

Forces that can save us from the fate ahead

Are mobilizing and waiting for the moment to act.

No one, No one, No one alive

Can stand against the world once aroused to fight its fate.

 

John will be there to lead and prevail,

Finally, the people will rise to breathe new air.

The walls will come down, the world will rejoice

Right will prevail with John at the fore,

Give him your heart and he will deliver your soul.

Our world is at stake, hear its urgent call.

Later that evening Audrey sent the poem to the New York Times who immediately syndicated it. It would appear worldwide in two days. She also sent the poem to the

the Film Department at Stanford that waited eagerly for whatever she wrote. They went crazy over her new poem. The striking symbolism, metaphors and even ambiguity stirred their imagination. Ideas swept through the department and when the creative staff met the following afternoon, the video outlines had been done. They planned to have the video completed several days after the publication of the article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 17

 

 

Late morning, Audrey entered Ron’s study to tell him she was leaving for a few hours. He barely looked up from some paper he was reading and grunted OK. Audrey turned around without a word, heading for the airport where she expected to pick up Ryan in about an hour.

After a warm, hurried greeting at curbside, they left the airport area and headed back toward Mountain View. Ryan was visibly concerned. “Mom, what’s going on? I’m very worried. I really need to see dad after what you told me.”

“Honey, we’ll go directly home, but I need to discuss some things with you before you meet your father.”

“OK, Mom. Tell me what’s happening.”

“Honey,” his mother said, “your father has been going through a very difficult time in recent weeks. He has essentially withdrawn from his usual optimistic and active role in fighting global warming. More lately, he has become very depressed and except for reading an occasional paper he just sits around and mopes. Nothing I have said has prompted him to see a therapist for some help. He dismisses such an idea as unnecessary. His problems he says stems from the realization that all his efforts to win the battle against global warming have failed.

“He seems at a point in life when he needs to reexamine his priorities and find new ways to pursue his passion or former passion. I know that much of his problem stems from believing that he personally failed. All his articles, speeches, traveling throughout the world have proved worthless since CO2 has kept on rising. He knew that as long as people burned fossil fuels everything else was meaningless. That has become his big burden.

“However, another issue has entered the picture which has also turned him into a angry, almost paranoid person. I hate to use that word about your father, but there is no use in hiding anything from you. I believe most of the anger is due to John Curtis’ entering the picture. He now believes that I have turned against him, and have either joined or want to join John whom your father feels I see as replacing him.”

“Mom,” Ryan interrupted, “when I read your recent poem it also appeared to me that you were making a case for John to rise up and since you are so well known and respected your new position would add much credibility to John’s approach. John’s new role as the primary leader of the climate movement began long ago, but your support has put him in the foreground. The entire Coalition II accepts his new stature. Since we had already begun to believe in John, we already follow him, but it does help knowing you’re backing him.”

“Ryan, there is no point in denying that I have become frustrated with your father. He has tried to stop my being productive, in a sense to join him in despair. For awhile I had withdrawn and finally realized that I must continue the fight no matter what he does and that’s when I wrote the poem.”

“Have you met John?” Ryan asked.

“Yes, he came over for dinner and discussed his ideas rather fully with your father and me, hoping that he and Ron could join forces and fight global warming together.

“When your father heard of his ideas of using force or at least aggressive tactics and starting a camp to train soldiers or leaders, as John put it, your father saw him as dangerous. I think your father was shocked hearing that John imagined trying to fight the US government. They parted with the clear understanding that your father would never join such a movement and never integrate their talents.”

Ryan pursed his lips, then spoke. “Mom, I never imaged that Dad would shirk from doing anything if he thought it could help control the climate.”
“It was taking such an aggressive stand that he objected to. Anyway, following that dinner was when I wrote the poem. Your father has also become more convinced that I’m supporting John, especially after John wrote that article that your father feels was his way of usurping him. That it was printed in the New York Times as an OP-Ed piece convinced your father that I was behind this. Ryan, I, of course, wasn’t, as though anyone could influence the Times to publish anything. Anyway, I did not know of John’s article until I read it in the paper like everyone else.

“You should also know that I did see John for lunch twice, which your father knows about, after the fact, when John did try to recruit me to join him. I readily admit that I like John and feel his ideas have some merit, especially his ideas of an open rebellion against the government, if all other measures fail. John is determined to do something he actually believes.

“Frankly, I think, that John feels that it is too late anyway, but since none of us know when the self-feeding cycle gets started, we can’t stop trying to finally reduce CO2 and eventually stop it. The odds of controlling global warming are enormous as you know, but that doesn’t mean we just throw away the opportunity.

“Your father has been preaching the need of starting to eliminate fossil fuels going back nearly twenty years. No one has worked harder than he and with all the signs of global warming intensifying I can understand his frustration and fear. John knows and understands all your father has done and admits that he has been guided by him and has learned most of what he knows from him.

“However, some years ago he began to perceive that nothing was working as the temperature rose following CO2’s unrelenting rise toward 450. That number has been so burned into the brains of every environmentalist that it is like a death knell to civilization since we’re obviously not stopping here. Everyone knows your father’s prediction that if we reached 450 with evident acceleration of CO2 accumulation, it will be late to stop global warming. Well, 450 is here, earlier than many anticipated, and it’s following your father’s greatest fear that it is happening with CO2 accelerating.

“Now he’s struggling with the realization that he has to deny that and say it is still possible to bring down the temperature and at least avoid much of the future damage and suffering that lies ahead. Honey, frankly, he’s so depressed and angry about my support of John that he has become incapacitated. OK, we’re home. Don’t tell him what we have talked about. I think it is better to hear his side of things. He needs support and love. He loves you dearly and no doubt won’t attack you. Remember, he doesn’t know you are here so he may be shocked, or at least surprised.”

 

Ron was not in the living room or kitchen when Ryan and Audrey entered the house. “He is probably in his study where he tends to remain much of the day. Let’s go down together, then I’ll leave you alone with him.”

His father was slumped over in his desk chair when they entered his office. Despite hearing the door open, he did not look up. Ryan walked over to stand by him and said in a very quiet voice, “Hello, Dad, I’ve come home for a brief visit.”

For a moment it did not appear that his father heard him, then slowly looked up, stared at him and resumed slumping in the chair. Ryan and Audrey were rather surprised at the lack of response and Audrey urged Ryan to speak again.

“Hi Dad, I’ve taken a week off from work to visit you and Mom. How are you?”

Once again, Ron raised his head and this time looked more closely at his son. “What are you doing here?” he asked rather pointedly shifting his gaze to Audrey standing near the door. “Your mother asked you to come, is that it?”

“Mom did invite me,” Ryan replied softly. “She thought you might like some company.”

“I don’t need any company,” Ron said testily.

“Dad, I understand that you’ve been going through a tough period now that we have reached 450 and are having some doubts about what you can now do.” Ryan, prepared for his father’s reaction by his mother was not deterred, but realized how withdrawn his father had become. He nodded to his mother to leave. She did, closing the door loudly enough so that Ron would not fail to be aware she was no longer in the room.

When the door closed, he looked around the room, then stood up and took his son in his arms and cried. “I can’t stand my life,” he barely whispered. “What is happening to me? I did everything right, all my life, and nothing came out as I had hoped. The world is going downhill.

“What did I do wrong? I wanted to do so much and nothing, nothing changed. Now it is too late. We’re all going to live in a terrible world. You, you’re so young, will suffer beyond anything you can imagine. I tried to stop it and failed.” Ron stopped and took out a handkerchief to dry his tears. He continued to hold on to his son who was unable to stop his own crying, as he now knew how desperate and unhappy his father was. What could he do to help him? He knew there must be a way.

“Dad, I feel so terrible for you,” Ryan said, continuing to cry. “You have meant so much to all of us. You have taught me so much. You have taught the world so much. How did all this happen? What made you feel so different? What’s happened to you?”

“I don’t know. It just seemed to come upon me some weeks ago. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I can’t talk to anyone about it. I can’t even talk to your mother. We don’t seem to talk about anything. We have no ideas. Everything has dried up between us. I think I also discouraged her. That’s what she told me. She’s done no research, no writing. Just like me. It’s like our life together is zero. I think she’s also becoming depressed. I made her worry about me and I do nothing to help myself. It’s as if I feel hopeless. I don’t think anything can be done. That’s my worse nightmare.”

“Dad, is anything else bothering you?”

“Sometimes your Mom and I spend a whole day without talking much, if at all. I just don’t want to talk to her.”

“I know that when you feel the way you do, it is difficult sometimes to talk,” Ryan said. “Do you feel all right talking to me?”

“Ryan, I’m relieved to see you. You’re the first person to whom I have spilled out some of my feelings. I’ve got to break out of my crazy mood. I know I’m depressed and even wondered why I’m now alive.”

“Dad, have you thought of…”
“No, Ryan, No suicide for me. I’m out of it but not that crazy. I’ve got to get back to work and find some way of still trying to make a change.”

“What’s going on with you and Mom?”

“She’s very upset with me. Were you aware that before Mom wrote that poem we had John Curtis over for dinner with the idea of joining forces to fight global warming? Do you know him?”
“I do. He’s the head of Coalition II, which is big at high school.”
“Of course,” his father said. “So you know him. Then you also know that your mother supported him very openly in her recent poem. Actually she made it appear that he was taking over the leadership of the climate change movement from me.”

“Dad, naturally I read the poem and Mom was very supportive of John.”

Ron grunted, then continued, “Anyway, at dinner he went over his plans for fighting global warming. What he told me was astonishing.

“He wanted to start a camp; train soldiers, leaders, have a civil war, fight the government. I don’t really know what he has in mind. He said that he didn’t really want to fight, but a show of strength is needed in order to elect an entirely new government. He talked about a President determined to stop burning fossil fuels and a 100% supportive Congress. I could never imagine working with him: fighting, using guns, killing people, rebelling against the US government. When he left that evening, it was clear we’d never work together.”

“Dad, I guess that hearing some of his ideas for the first time could be rather upsetting,” Ryan said.

“Your mom supported him,” his father continued. “You read the poem written after meeting with him. She saw him as the new wave of the future. Following this, he wrote that article that usurped my position as the leader of the climate change movement. I was more than surprised when the New York Times printed it as an Op-Ed piece. That was his first article printed initially in the Times. That must be your mother’s doing. I’m sure you read the article.”
“I read it. I imagine everybody did. Dad, getting it published in the Times could not have been Mom’s doing. The Times only prints what it wants. No one tells them what to publish.”

Ron merely looked down at the floor and grumbled, “OK, OK, have it your way. How well do you know John Curtis?”

“Somewhat. He’s head of Coalition II, which he guides.”
“Are you part of it?”
“Dad, at our high school, there is no Coalition I anymore. Everyone is in Coalition II and that includes me. We’re all scientists fully believing in the dangers of global warming. The whole Coalition is searching for new ways to control and stop it. Even I do research on the climate.”

“You have done research?”

“Yes, I am interested in determining if the predictions accurately come from the accepted data regarding the rise of CO2 and the related temperature.”

“So what did you discover?” Ron asked curious.

“Primarily what I found out is that real-time data is underplayed and it’s why the government continues to report global warming is rising faster than anticipated. The government acts as though it is surprised. Every year they say the same thing. We feel it’s the way the government tries to deceive the public.

“Remember the big fuss made when it was discovered that all the glaciers at Glacier National Park had disappeared 4 or 5 years before predicted and when the Arctic ice no longer formed in the summer, several years before expected. None of us were surprised and I know you weren’t from one of your articles. To us, it’s a sad game played by our government who avoids warding off this debacle heading our way. It’s worth knowing that John actively supports all our research. That’s why mom’s poem did not surprise us.”

“Is that right. That’s interesting to know,” Ron said surly. A sense of bitterness hung on his words. “How do you know he’s so supportive?”

“John had come to lecture at the high school and to specifically address Coalition II. So, I came to know him.”

“What made him come to your high school?”

“John talks at lots of high schools and he knows that Mountain View has lots of potential scientists in the Coalition.”

“Does he know you’re my son?”

“Yes.”

“Did he single you out, maybe for you to influence me to follow him? Maybe that’s why he came to your high school?”
“Dad, you’ve got to understand,” Ryan said unable to stop his growing irritation. “I only met John once but I can’t imagine that John is into that sort of thing. He has only one interest and that is to avert, if at all possible, the catastrophe coming. We’re all involved in that and no one, except for you, is as dedicated to finding a way of reducing global warming than John.

“And Dad, you should know that he doesn’t play with our minds. He makes it clear that the story may already be over, but since we don’t know we must continue to do what might still work. You have no idea how scared some of us are. Imagine, we’re already studying physics, chemistry, geology, science in general, and especially the environment, knowing that we may not have much of a future. All the brainy kids in the high school are in the Coalition. We know that the catastrophe won’t suddenly happen in 2100; it’s happening now and will just worsen unless a change occurs.

“As of now there is no sign that the situation will radically worsen in the very near future. But, Dad, you know better than any of us that the forces operating can suddenly accelerate and then we would know it is probably over. Can’t you see why his ideas are so appealing? What do we have to lose?”

“Ryan, what do you think about his aggressive stand? I understand that at Harvard he started a small group as a kind of think tank and to set up a camp and train soldiers and leaders as a prototype. Do you know about this?”

“Of course,” Ryan replied. “We all know about that. Dad, behind the idea of the camp is our belief that we must have more power if there is any chance to do what must be done. No one believes it will be easy. The most difficult part is getting the entire world to do the same. The US no longer has the clout it once had since we’re not even the major power anymore. We just have to hope that China and India follow suit and that will induce the rest of the world. Everyone knows the consequences of not bringing down global warming.”

“You think you can get the Chinese to allow such a camp to exist?” Ron said.

“Dad, the world’s changing. Some members of the Coalition believe we should focus on China and not the US. John has lots of contacts there, as I know you do also. The Chinese students are behind us 100 %. They have lots of backing from many members in their government, but like here, despite having so much renewable energy in place, the government still holds on to using fossil fuels.

“If we can get the Chinese students to act together with us we would then have the best chance of finally stopping global warming. Throughout the world, Coalition II is kept up to date on everything happening. They still don’t know about John’s idea to develop training camps, however. But we believe that if this idea takes off here, it will spread like wildfire over both the US and China and the world.

“Dad, we’ve got to do this. What other chance do we have for our future? We hope that the students in the rest of the world follow suit when they see what we’re going to do. Students are scared all over and we believe are ready to fight for their future.”

“You believe that?” Ron asked skeptically. “You say that these ideas have come out of this think tank he established at Harvard. I gather he’s trying to enlarge it. What about that?”

Ryan paused for a moment before answering. “Dad, are you aware that we all want to be part of his think tank?”

“What do you mean?”

“His initial group of 20 students sent out invitation to about a dozen other universities for each one to select two members to an enlarged think tank that will have 40 students. All the new members will come from colleges nearby, in the Boston area, so when John wants to call a weekend camp outing, the students will be close by and no one would have to come a long distance.”

“And you want to be part of that? How can that be? You live in California and are only in high school,” Ron said, growing visibly irritated.

“Dad, we all want to be part of it. We’ve joined with other high schools and are planning to write John to ask if he can start camps for the high schools. We’re just waiting until it becomes official, although he openly talks about it. We’d like to offer ideas for whatever he’s trying to do.”

“Ryan, you’re only a teenager.”

“Dad, we’re old enough to know what’s going on. Every kid knows more than their parents about global warming. We’re the ones who are going to live when things really get bad.”

“I see, I see.”

“Dad, are you interested in what John’s doing?”

“Look Ryan, I need to know whatever is being done that influences the climate. I may not agree with what he’s doing, but it still might be useful. I do know the power of the students. Problem is I don’t know how he’ll use aggression.”

“John’s not going to do anything crazy or abruptly,” Ryan said strongly. “We need to change our approach to how we fight global warming. Since none of the energy companies will take the lead, it is only the government that can do this. His idea is using power to make the government responsive to our needs. Nothing else has worked. By a show of power, we could have a non-aggressive coup or find ways of electing an entire Congress and president who will make this happen.

“If this is treated like a war, then the President can make it happen on his own. But having Congress behind him assures it will take place. We believe the entire country will eventually back us and we don’t have much time to make this happen. We also know that unless the rest of the world follows suit, it won’t make any difference.

“It almost sounds like an impossible task but if this is finally understood and we take the initiative, we feel we can pull it off. We start with our country and get the rest of the world to follow suit. What choice do we have otherwise?”

“But for you to be a part of it?” Ron asked, even as he thought how mature and articulate his son was. How much like me when I was a kid.

“Dad, I want to be part of it. How can you question me considering what you have been doing all these years? The fact they are still burning fossil fuels is not your fault. No one has done as much as you. We just can’t stop trying because up to now the climate remains uncontrolled. No one knows if 450 is the right number.”

“What do you mean the right number? Do you think I made it up? That number was arrived at after countless computer studies by thousand of scientists and is the number attached to 2 degrees Celsius that marks the beginning of real destabilization, in other words it spells the end for many scientists.”

“No, Dad that’s not what I meant. I don’t care who concluded that. If I believed that and thought it was the end I’m not sure I’d want to live in this world. And maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but you’re not the last word on that either.”

Ryan backed away as he saw his father beginning to cry.

Dad, I didn’t mean that but this is my century. Don’t you understand that it can’t be the end?” he said testily.

“Sorry Ryan, I can understand that.”

“We can’t quit,” Ryan said strongly “That’s admitting the fight is over. And it isn’t. Our world is at stake.”

“I see,” Ron said softly. “You also see me as a quitter. I think that your mother feels the same. Maybe lots of people do. Well, I am a quitter, since I’ve given up fighting and I don’t believe that anything can be done. It’s too late.”

“Dad, how can you know? Even you said that unless we stop using fossil fuels and then see what happens, we’ll never know.”

“I understand that, Ryan,” his father his father said in a sad voice. “Let’s call it quits for now. I’m tired and I’d like to take a nap.”

“Of course, Dad. I’m so glad that we were able to talk with each other. I was really worried about what was happening to you. I know that you’re very disappointed that you were not able to bring global warming to a stop. But you were only one person. You did more than any person alive for many years. No one can fight forces that don’t play by the rules or see the same reality.

“How this could have happened is beyond understanding. My friends and I cry over that whenever we meet. We find that having let the world’s temperature come to this point is like destroying the earth. We hate the people who let it happen. We hate the government and the lobbyists and oil companies. Our future was dictated by them and there was a time probably back when you started to educate the world that it could have been stopped, certainly much easier than now.

“When I see the incredible amount of methane gas being released in Siberia and Greenland and in the ocean, well you know what I fear. What would we do if a feedback loop has already started. I believe there would be such a violent reaction that the social values we take for granted would disappear. And I’m talking about worldwide. Some of my friends said maybe that’s reason enough not to try to stop global warming now in case we find we can’t.”

“Ryan, I understand what you feel, since I can look back and remember many times I was disappointed or ignored and felt that climate deniers and those feeding us misinformation were winning the battle. But for you it is worse since we are so much closer to the calamity anticipated. Ryan, tell your mother that I will get up and be ready for dinner. Ryan, I love you, and if I can now find a way to rapidly get out of this funk, it’s because you’re here. I love you very much.”

 

Dinner was quiet, enjoying a delicious meal prepared by Audrey and listening to Mozart Quartets in the background. For a brief period, peace prevailed in the Barrett household.

 

The following morning Audrey’s new poem appeared in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Audrey read it first, then placed the papers back on the table, while she waited for Ron and her son to appear. A deep foreboding swept through her. I’m so thankful that Ryan is with us, she thought. Dear God, she silently prayed, please make Ron understand what I did and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 18

 

 

An emergency meeting was called by Roger Stokes, the burly and somewhat intimidating chairperson of the College Awareness Committee of the Home Security Department. Obviously impatient, he nodded to the Secretary to start reading the minutes of the previous meeting and do it fast. With a slight grimace, Marion Lubawitz rushed through the data and sat down.

“We have some potentially serious business to discuss today,” Stokes began hastily and with a hurried look glanced around at the ten members present. “In a few minutes, Brewster Davison, whom most of you know, will join us. For those who don’t know him, Brewster is the top FBI agent who keeps tabs on universities and colleges for any subversive behavior or activities that seem dangerous or disruptive.”

“Why did you invite him?” Ricardo Gomez, spoke up. “He tends to dominate meetings and I found he’s often opinionated and ignores different viewpoints.”
“Look, Rick,” Stokes said. “The subject today is not a big deal, at least not yet, but could become highly disruptive from what I have heard. OK, here’s Brewster,” he said as the door opened and Brewster, a very tall, thin man, sporting a curly mustache and definitely not smiling entered.

“All right let’s get started,” Stokes said, as Brewster, without a word, sat down at the table.

“On the agenda is a person we all know, though very slightly up to now. John Curtis. John has recently attained new prominence among the college students, mainly by taking the role as advisor and guide of Coalition II of the Coalition of Students that we all know very well.

“Since the separation of the Coalition into two parts, John has developed a strong and very loyal base in leading Coalition II, where Barrett has essentially no influence. Barrett has been a strong influence over the college students for many years and we have watched him. He has actually done many useful things for the nation and Home Security has always looked on him kindly. He has certainly been a major mover in developing renewable energy that has benefited all of us without stopping burning fossil fuels that he has wanted.

“From our viewpoint, he has fostered cohesion among many students who otherwise might have gone astray giving them a viable movement and goal to control the climate. Fat chance of that happening,” Stokes laughed, to the dismay of several committee members.

“Curtis on the other hand has been a more antagonistic and aggressively oriented person even before Coalition II became so large. He has been behind or at least supported their aggressive marches against local, state and even national government agencies and groups. He has stirred up enthusiasm for a more active approach in the fight against global warming. Students like him and, we believe, will follow him.

“Violence on the campuses dated before Coalition II but has now reached a much more dangerous level. Marion, hold your comments, for a few minutes,” Stokes said, noticing her tentatively raising her hand. “until I have finished with the background for our discussion today.” Marion nodded and Stokes went on.

“Some of the student orators have talked about marching on the government, staging a sit-down in front of the capital or white house, demonstrating with posters, and trying to arouse local students to join them. None of this is actually new but there seems to be a more belligerent attitude now.

“Nothing has happened yet but the oration has become more violent and we believe dangerous. Students are on edge, ready to explode at any time. There is so much anger about the weather and their belief that they have been led down the death path as it has been called.

“Can you blame them?” Marion called out. “If I were on campus now I’d join them.”

“OK Marion, just hold your comments,” Stokes ordered.

“Curtis picks his times to visit the various campuses. He tends to go after a major storm or unbearable heat wave or a cut back on water or certain foods due to shortages, or running out of fuel or blackouts. Sometimes, it is after a major demonstration of some kind in another country. The kids are so linked to the rest of the world they know everything going on as soon as it happens.

“Another unfortunate element has now entered the Coalition. It seems that some students have targeted passive students, or those openly anti-aggressive or even just being a member of Coalition I. That is totally inappropriate and is why I called this special urgent meeting. Whatever we do today, that must be addressed and stopped.

“Home Security is on the verge of sending in troops to protect the students. Now we all know that there’s no better way to arouse students then by using the army but the army is ready to move in.”
“That would indeed be wrong,” Janet Yang said. “There are other ways to stop student violence, which must be tried first.”

“Force is usually the only thing that ultimately works,” Stokes countered. “Threatening students with expulsion or discipline tends to just dilly dally with the problem until troops go in. We’ve done it before.”
“My God, Stokes, listen to what you’re saying,” Silow Gormenstern said sternly. “Every time we’ve done that it has led to mishaps and even disaster. How many times have the students throughout the entire campus banded together and decided to attack the troops. You know what happens. The trigger-happy troops open fire with tear gas, rubber tipped ammunitions and batons. The student respond with rocks, knives, bats, and overwhelming numbers. Those things tend to end badly. Whenever a student gets badly hurt or killed the public turns against us. We need another solution. Let’s finally wise up and not continue to do the same thing that never worked, except maybe temporarily.”

“All right,” Stokes said, stepping in again. “I just have a few more comments and then we can open the discussion. We have definite information that Curtis has introduced another element into Coalition II. He is establishing a so-called think tank, which I understand is going to set up camps and train students to become soldiers. All the members would be willing to fight for their rights that includes saving their civilization. I hear that Curtis does not oppose the use of guns.

“In addition, he is expanding the new committee to 40 students from the current 20 by inviting two students from a dozen nearby colleges. The think tank would essentially be a Harvard-led group.”

“How do you know all that?” Marion asked.

“From the father of one of the new members being recruited,” Stokes replied. “I gather joining this think tank is a great privilege. All the Coalition II members in all the schools want to join Curtis’s original group. They’re clamoring for a spot. And this father, a very astute guy, says that he feels that once the rest of the country gets wind of this think tank business, especially with camps offering special military training off-campus that there will be a rush to get into the act. Can you imagine if this happens, the headaches we’ll have. John Curtis is an obvious dangerous person willing to have some sort of open rebellion and even set in motion a march against the government. OK that’s it. Open for discussion.”

Marion immediately rose to her feet and began to speak. “How many of us on this small committee have been members of the Student Coalition when we were in college? It’s been around for 18 years and some of us are the right age. I, for one, was in it and felt it was the most stimulating and educational part of college. So, how many?”

Three other members raised their hands. “So that makes four out of 10. And how many of the rest are old enough to have children in college who are part of it.” Three more raised their hands.

“So 3/4s of us are connected to the Coalition. Let’s be honest. Do any of you feel it was destructive to society or doing harm?” No hands were raised. “So with that understanding now we can discuss John Curtis and his influence.”
Stokes noticed Brewster Davison nodding, wanting to speak.

“Let’s listen to Brewster for his take on this situation. He’s here after investigating Curtis’s background and activities. OK Brewster.”

“Thanks for inviting me. Obviously for me to be here, the FBI has become concerned by this latest change within the Coalition. We’ve been watching the Coalition for years, ever since Barrett started it in 2012. It’s by far the most powerful organization on most campuses and has had a major impact on school policies. That includes the elimination of certain classes and even the dismissal of a number of professors. Most colleges are 100 % green and lead the research in trying to find ways to reduce CO2. The government has supported much research in this area and unfortunately no meaningful solution has emerged.”

“Let’s be clear about this,” Gormenstern said. “The government never took a stand to stop the burning of fossil fuels, which Barrett made clear on numerous occasions that it would be the only thing that would work. Well, he was right and we’re now stuck with maybe the destruction of our civilization. The government supported research had no impact, although some of it led to new industries. Much of it helped hide the truth. And the government made it their business to praise the researchers that mainly benefited the oil industry. So let’s not hurry to stand behind the government.”
“Say, are you guys trying to help the government or not,” Davison said perplexed.

“Being part of Home Security doesn’t stop us from knowing the truth,” Marion spoke up. “We’re not brain-washed and if the government doesn’t like us they get easily get rid of us.”

“OK, OK, not arguing,” Davison said. “I also have children who hate the government and constantly harass me to get another job or at least not oppose those who fight global warming. Look, I’m going to be around for at least another half century and I have no trouble believing in the science. But I have a job and that is to protect the campuses and that’s why I’m here today.”

“Protect the campuses or avoid another embarrassing situation for the government?” Janet Yang, said, bitterly.

“Why don’t you go on, Brewster,” Stokes said.

Davison did not look very happy as he felt he was confronting a hostile audience. “Not only is Curtis going to establish camps, he’s openly espousing rebellion. You got the message from Stokes that we’re close to bringing in troops to protect other students who are bring harassed and sometimes attacked. Also there is much more violence on campus recently. We think it’s Curtis’s influence at play.”

“Go ahead and do what you need to do,” Ricardo Gomez said. “I don’t think that what we feel or believe would have much influence over you.”

Davison frowned. “Naturally you’re right. The FBI in this case sees some sort of conspiracy on campus. It cuts across state lines and we don’t need anyone’s approval to act. But we had hoped that Home Security would at least not oppose us.”
“We won’t put any obstacles in your way,” Stokes said. “There’s enough trouble around already. However, I suggest that you contact John Curtis and advise him of your concern and position and potential action and see if he won’t cooperate with you.”
“OK, we could try that, but in a few past situations, he merely stood aside and did nothing to impede the students doing their thing. I’m telling you straight that we have a feeling that he’s big trouble and eliminating him might do us all a favor.”

“What do you mean, eliminate him?” Janet Yang bristled.

“We’re not going to kill him, if that worries you,” Davison said harshly. “We’re looking over ways to end his power base.”

“You mean somehow to muzzle him?” Marion said.

“Look, sorry I mentioned it. Nothing specific at this time. Just that we’re closely watching him. We don’t like what he stands for.”

“What he stands for is bringing down CO2. Anything wrong with that?” Gormenstern snapped

“No. No,” Davison said, exasperated. “Let’s just drop it.”

“No, let’s not drop it,” Marion came in. “Keep in mind when you contact him that there may be there’s nothing he can do. After all, as you know the Student Coalition is a totally free and unfettered organization and no outsider even Barrett could interfere with their actions, if they decided to so something inimical to him. But Curtis may have some ideas that could help you quiet things down.”

“I get the point,” Davison said. “We’ll contact him. Nothing to be lost.” Davison sat down, obviously finished.

“It’s late. Any further comments?” Stokes asked.

No one spoke up.

“The meeting’s adjourned.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 19

 

 

Ryan walked in. “Is Dad up yet?” he asked his mother.

“Not yet, but read this,” she said handing him the New York Times open to her new poem.

Without a word, Ryan read it and whistled in astonishment at the power and the clear depiction of John as leader. “What is Dad going to think about this?” he asked staring at his mother.

“Ryan, the reason I submitted it two nights ago was knowing you would be here and whatever your Dad thinks and feels we can try to deal with it together. Somehow, he has to recognize that John is taking a stand that is welcomed by many students and your dad doesn’t have to adhere to it. He can still write his own thing and help many people during this period. I hear him coming now.”

Ryan quickly went to the dining table holding on to the Times and rose when his father entered. “Hi, Dad, hungry?”

“Absolutely,” he responded, obviously in a better mood. Ryan glanced at his mother as his Dad sat down and Ryan handed him the paper, with the title of Audrey’s article staring back at him.

Seeing Audrey’s name as author, he read “Living on the Brink” out loud. Without another word, he slowly and carefully read the incisive poem. And then reread it.

Without a word he ate his breakfast and reread the poem another time. Ryan and Audrey followed suit and ate silently. When all were finished eating, Ron looked closely at his wife and son.

“What is this?” he said very softly, though through clenched teeth. “Another poem denouncing me?”

Ryan waited a few moments. “Dad, the poem says nothing about you. You’ve got to recognize that John is out there and Mom supports his views. Millions of people also support him.”
“Do you?” Ron asked, almost sadly.

“Dad, I thought we talked about that yesterday to some extent and you know I respect him and would like to join his think tank. It doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of yours or support your views, but John now guides Coalition II.”
“So where does that leave me?” Ron grumbled.

“Good,” Ryan said, “We can try and answer that question. Dad, keep in mind that you are known all over the world and are seen as the man who has done the most to help us understand global warming. The fact CO2 continues up, as you already know, was not your doing or lack of your trying. My God, you put yourself on the line so many times. Whenever you were cut down, you fought back with logic and determination. People love and respect you. You can’t let them down now.”

Instead of further sulking, Ron looked up at Ryan and turned toward his wife. “Audrey, are you that certain you want to support John? Tell me the truth. I’d like to know where I stand with you and where I stand in the fight for climate control.”

“Honey, I want to be straight with you. I’m so glad that our son is here with us. Maybe we can find a way to take new and, if necessary, separate roles in our fight. We need not lose our effectiveness. The world is in dire need of help and it is only going to get worse. Maybe this is all the preliminary stage of our future. If that’s the case, I hope that you and I can live peacefully and find some comfort with each other and even support each other.

“I must fight on. For now, I see John’s view as refreshing and possibly beneficial. No one knows what will come of all this. After all, our government won’t tolerate any rebellion and no one could fight the army. Maybe my influence can persuade John from taking steps that could destroy his influence. That is something he would regret.

“Honey, maybe you can prepare the world for what lies ahead. No matter what John or anyone does at this time, nothing will change for decades. If somehow the government decided to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, 5% or even 10% a year that change as you have taught us won’t be detected for many years. Meanwhile, the temperature goes up. Years from now if we actually stop CO2 production, we will find out if a feedback loop has already been set in motion. But how can we not try to help in whatever way we can?”

Ron said nothing and stared at the poem lying on the table in front of him. Then with a flourish, he closed the paper and said. “Let’s go out and take a long walk and breathe in the fresh air.”

 

While they were out Audrey dropped behind Ron and her son and responded to an earlier call from John. “Audrey, your poem was so inspiring and has given me a new belief in what I can accomplish. You have no idea how much I respect you. When can we meet?”

“Not just now John. Ron, I believe, is finally coming out of his depression, helped by our son who is with us. Later, I want to meet you. The video should be out in a day or so. Ron has said nothing about it, although he is waiting to see it. I’ll know better how Ron is when it is out.”

 

Later that evening Ryan and his father met alone in Ron’s office. “Dad, I know how hard this has been on you. The number 450 is like a death knell to you. All your efforts, over so many years, failed to stop the very thing you feared.

“Even in Junior high school, my friends and I talked over what our life will be like. We spoke of all you were doing and we began to believe that if you were not able to make a change then no one could do it. And the truth was no one could or did.

“So we’re at the precipice. If we have lost the battle then everyone will suffer. Maybe your role is helping people through these coming years and not see yourself as opposing John. He could have a different approach and so could Mom. We need as much input from all of you as possible.”

“Ryan, you are right,” his father said rising to hug his son. “I have behaved badly in recent weeks. You are right. I don’t have to take on a new mantle and become a believer where I don’t believe. John and I don’t have to be enemies. We both want the same thing. Who knows? Maybe John can accomplish something I could not. With your mother apparently ready to help him, she may be able to keep his aggressiveness in line.

“On the other hand, maybe he will force the government to take action, even the idea of totally replacing Congress and the President with completely green representatives might work. In that area, I’d even help him. Somehow, the oil companies and their lobbyists have always managed to fortify the conservative voters and manage to put conservatives on the ballot. The lying about job security and minimizing the impact of carbon on the climate has worked so far. Maybe it can be changed. If John takes that view, I would support it.”

“Dad, you’re beginning to ponder the question and knowing you that could lead to a new article. After all, there are millions of people waiting to hear from you. They probably think you’re considering new things since your depression has been kept quiet. And your being depressed knowing 450 was reached would be completely understood.

“Dad, another thing to keep in mind is that the approach that John is contemplating is nothing new. Many people in the last ten years have wanted to rebel against the government for destroying our world. Not just in our country either. The difference is that John will have an enormous base of students behind him. That does make him more formidable. Say John didn’t exist. How are you going to help people who follow and trust you? You can offer so much to them.”

“Yes, of course, you are right, Ryan. I’ve been acting like a child. I didn’t get my way so I’m punishing those closest to me. John came to see me in good faith. He was taking a chance and since he didn’t know my personal attitude toward fighting and killing he thought we’d make a good team. Now he knows and he’s obviously moving ahead.

“So should I. I may even be able to take a new tactic to try and stop burning fossil fuels. Just imagine that a relatively small number of people have managed to set our planet on a trajectory of destruction. We are watching it unfold. No guesswork. We no longer even need science. We are living it. And the most destructive outcome imaginable is coming upon us.”

“Dad, since it will be decades before anything changes no matter what anyone does, maybe you can find a new approach to continue to fight global warming. Meanwhile, people are suffering. You can direct yourself to that. We’d all benefit. If CO2 doesn’t come down then we’ll suffer the catastrophe we now expect. Living during the coming years is going to be incredibly hard on many people. They need your help. We all do.”

“You’re right, Ryan,” his father responded more brightly. “I need to get to work and my first order of business is getting out a new article articulating some of what we have talked about and giving people reassurance that I haven’t gone away.”
Ryan’s eyes brimmed with tears as he kissed his father’s cheek and whispered, “I’m so glad that you haven’t gone away. I love you so much.”

 

That afternoon Audrey drove to the Film Department at Stanford to record her poem that would be incorporated into the video. While there she got a first glance at some of the scenes already filmed. Her excitement was boundless. If all goes as expected, she’ll be called into review and give approval to the complete film in another day or two. Unwittingly, the completed video would give John an unanticipated boost to become the hero depicted in the video, as he believed the world now saw him. No obstacles would stand in his way to save the world.

 

Two days later the video was uploaded to YouTube.

To emphasize the power of the words the entire poem was printed underneath the video that could be read separately after viewing the video.

 

Ryan , awakening early, was the first in the household to see the video. He marveled at its beauty and power and felt moved and inspired by the presence of the larger-than-life John Curtis. What will happen to all of us? he wondered. Can John make a difference? He walked down to the kitchen to wait for his parents. His mother came in first glowing. She had already seen the video. Son and mother merely hugged tightly. Each knew this video spelled change and hope. Each waited and prayed that Ron would acknowledge its power and accept its premise.

A few minutes later Ron appeared and immediately knew something had happened. “It’s the video, right?”

“Yes, dear,” Audrey responded.

“Good, I’d like to see it now.”

Without another word, he went to his office. After a long while, he returned and hugged his wife. “It’s a masterpiece,” he said, genuinely moved. “A masterpiece. It should make a huge worldwide stir and truly catapult John into a new role and to great acclaim.”

Ryan and Audrey breathed in relief and waited.

“Honey, I feel good about your poem and your supporting John. Your own inspiration and new poetry will play an important role in what happens to him and to our country. These are desperate and scary times.

“I am planning a new article, and have written part of the outline. I hope to finish it today or by tomorrow. I want you to review it before I publish it since it concerns our future and my hope that we can still fight and conquer global warming and work together. I fully understand your moving on.

“And Ryan your ideas about using my strengths and understanding to help people adapt to extremely difficult times is a direction I accept. Obviously, I won’t stop searching for other paths to fight global warming. I hope my new article will spell out my beliefs for what lies ahead.”

“Honey, I‘d love to review your article,” Audrey said warmly.

“Now let’s go to the living room. I already sent the video to our large TV so that we can look at it together.”

 

Together they first reread the poem.

 

LIVING ON THE BRINK

 

From high in the sky deadly missiles attacked,

Striking deep into the heart of the country below.

Devastation appeared wherever we looked,

Raging and helpless we kneeled and prayed,

No defense we found could stem the tide,

The missiles came and we all died.

 

A violent blast stirred the underwater calm,

Pushing water to shake the coastal lands.

Water surged beyond our sight,

Crushing all creatures that defied its might.

Rain thundered in torrential bursts shattering life below its thrust,

We cried and raged and wept in pain.

Like locusts that come in endless plagues,

Destruction wouldn’t stop or heed our pleas.

Everywhere we looked, devastation had come.

In horror, we closed our eyes against the crumbling world,

Hoping beyond hope that it would stop in time.

To no avail, we had prayed in vain.

 

The enemy wields a deadly gas attacking and strangling our souls,

We’re succumbing to the gas that sweeps the land,

Destroying our minds, bodies, and lives.

The globe is its home, the sky where it dwells, the terrain its prey,

It moves wherever there is light, all is in its toxic sight,

It covers everything and leaves a deepening blight.

 

Our torment has found a home in our dreams,

We toss and turn and can no longer sleep.

We awaken to a nightmare of gagging gas

And oppressive heat that stifles our lives.

Our dreams are infiltrated with daggers of blood,

The torment never ceases that shatters our soul.

 

We are dragged down and can’t slow our terrifying descent,

My God, how do you stop this unholy war?

To bring it to bay and cut it low.

Who can seek ways to sequester the gas,

Defeat the violent storms that daily brew,

And quell the blasts that rock the shores?

 

Who alive could defeat such a mighty foe,

Who can such a person be?

We have his name; we know he’s here,

He will rise and defeat this monstrous foe,

John has come and John will prevail,

Our world is at stake and he knows it well.

 

If only the missiles and gas were real,

If only they were things we could see and feel,

We’d have an enemy to fight and kill.

But we have an enemy that hides in full sight.

Scornful, spiteful, unyielding, all in hideous blackened light,

Is there recourse to defeat this relentless foe?

 

John stands ready to take the helm,

To defeat those who ignored our pain.

Forces that can save us from the fate ahead

Are mobilizing and waiting for the moment to act.

No one, No one, No one alive

Can stand against the world once aroused by their fate.

 

John will be there to lead and prevail,

Finally, the people will rise to breathe new air.

The walls will come down, the world will rejoice

Right will prevail with John at the fore,

Give him your heart and he will deliver your soul.

Our world is at stake, hear its urgent call.

 

As they now watched the video, all three were in awe of the rich symbolism that ruled the creative process. The missiles of icicles and ferocious thunderous rain struck the earth casting destruction in large swaths of land dealing death to animals and humans. The ocean rising higher and higher swept over lands and carried buildings and bodies deep into the coasts. Enormous jelly fish, swelling and bursting, swept other creatures into their engulfing mouths and spread tentacles to capture the unwary. The ocean had become dangerous.

Violent winds swept swirling sand from vast deserts that covered entire cities. A killer hurricane shook the oceans like a helpless rag doll and from its depth huge surges of water brought havoc to the land. Locusts transformed into strange, evil soldiers, with the piercing eyes of zombies and the face of the grim reaper, spread over the lands and gunned down everyone in their path.

The video revealed the deadly CO2, the world’s nemesis, coming down and poisoning the world. The visualization of CO2 was so astonishing and scary that Audrey gasped in shock. Depicting John, however, was the most striking symbol, and gave John a presence that remained with him for years.

John appeared as a translucent ghost-like figure riding the dangerous winds of the hurricane. His arms stretched out as tentacles flailing in the surrounding tumultuous winds as he was making a twirling descent holding to the body of an enormous icicle. Suddenly, he appeared flying and leading a huge cloud of countless birds of many colors, shapes and types, from the sparrow to the giant condor. The moving formation was dazzling and his guidance of the birds revealed his masterful skills as a leader. Among the most striking depictions were a group of eagles that moved ahead as vanguard, dipping and soaring as a salute to John.

Leaving the birds he flew down to a vast plain where thousands of different animals intermingled with humans of all sizes, shapes, sexes, age and ethnicity. All were ready to march. In the midst of this enormous army, John stood tall, calm, determined and exuding a sense of power and optimism. As they watched, John raised his hand and pointed forward toward the horizon where the first early morning glimmer of the rising sun could be seen. Darkness still surrounded the first glow of light, but John advanced moving into the bright newly awakened world.

In the video there was no doubt that John was invincible. Despite using symbolic figures, the visage of the real John Curtis was clearly evidenced in the video. John had truly come alive. Above the visual feast, Audrey’s voice reciting the poem resounded with emotion and pain.

It became an immediate cult video. Some weeks later, after the poem’s release on YouTube, Disney Studios approached Audrey to make an animated film of the poem, wanting her to collaborate on the screenplay. Audrey agreed to the terms and signed a contract. Eventually, it was made into a powerful film that was given credibility by countless celebrities and journalists. It brought people to tears as they watched the deterioration of the earth. Disney made a real plea for the awakening of those people who could change our future and for all people to exert their influence. Disney created a film for all time, a true desperate plea to save our civilization.

 

Shortly after her video came online, John called and told her how much he loved it and how artistically it was created giving her poem a new and very powerful thrust. “I don’t know if I can live up to your portrayal.”
Audrey laughed. “Well, to accomplish what must be done, you have to rise to great heights. John, you can do it. The world is now attentive to you, don’t disappoint them.”

“I won’t Audrey. I’ll do it for the world and I’ll do it for you.”

Audrey again laughed. “I’ll settle that you do it for the world. The world needs you.

Ron is now working on a new article, which he wants me to review and critique before he sends it to the Times. That’s unusual, so I expect it will be important for me to know his thinking. Unless something interferes, I would like to meet you after the article is out. It will also probably pertain to you, although I’m not certain of that. Why don’t we arrange to meet the following Tuesday at the same place and same time.”
John hesitated a few moments. “Give me a moment to think the timing out. You see my meeting at Harvard with the full contingency of new members, now totaling 44 is taking place this weekend, earlier than I had anticipated. I may want to stay over a few extra days and establish protocols, camp settings, deal with school security and the administration. Also, I want to be available to what will be many questions from the students and their parents. I’m going to make this entire operation transparent. If there are any obstacles, I want them to come out early. I want no impediments to our moving ahead quickly and as smoothly as possible.”
“That’s wonderful,” Audrey exclaimed. “I can’t wait to hear what has evolved since your last meeting with the original group. It will be interesting to deal with the parents of the kids. I’ll look forward to learning what lies ahead for you. What would be a good time to meet?

“I’ll definitely be back by Tuesday so what if we meet on Thursday, same place and time. Does that work for you?”

“Yes that works fine. When are you leaving for Boston?”

“Tomorrow. The meeting is on Saturday, so I’ll have a day to confer with the original members who will bring me up to date and perhaps give me some time to confer with some of the school administrators. Their participation will be important, even though our plans call for the camp program to be off-campus and not taking up school time.

“I’ll need information to also send back to the other schools who will have sent representatives. I can’t imagine any problems and a major element for my confidence comes from your support. I have discovered that no one would ever criticize you or find fault with you. You kind of walk with a halo.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” Audrey said softly. “People have needed a good mother who both supports them and encourages freedom and isn’t afraid of standing up for beliefs important to them. What eventually comes from my supporting and working with you remains to be seen.”
“The idea of our working together is very stimulating for me,” John replied. “I also can’t wait to see you. I’ll look forward to reading Ron’s article. I certainly hope that we can face our coming crisis together. My respect for Ron is enormous.”
“I hope so too. For now, good luck in your meeting.”

 

When they said goodbye, Audrey pondered what was evolving. She knew that she was entering a relationship that could complicate her life. Yet she was uncertain exactly what lay ahead. Am I attracted to him? Is that part of my helping him? She smiled as she thought back on her poetic description of John. Am I idealizing him? I’m so much older than he. Remember, she scolds herself, your primary purpose is to control the climate. She giggled quietly as she thought of her use of the word “primary.” Without pursuing her reflection, she merely smiled.

I think I’ll go for a walk and stop so much thinking. With a lilt in her step and a sense of buoyancy, she stepped gaily out the front door and descended the path leading to the wooded area below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 20

 

 

The following morning Ron placed the completed article on Audrey’s desk. She read it carefully.

 

Dear Friends,

 

For many years, I have written you with hope that the rational and logical approach to global warming revealed by countless scientists would prevail and global warming would now be descending. It did not happen. Today, it is with much sadness that I face one of my own long-term predictions that if we reached 450 ppm CO2 that is accelerating then the probability that we have passed the point of no return is almost certain. At that time, all efforts to bring down global warming will fail. We have obviously reached that time and the conditions point to higher temperatures ahead.

What do I now do? Do I accept failure and now seek ways to adapt to an increasingly hostile world? What do I write about? What can I offer you? For so many years, you have nourished my zeal and creativity to find ways to accomplish that elusive goal. Having you behind me has been my greatest blessing as a scientist and writer.

Today, I will address the issues that lie ahead and how I intend to pursue them. For several weeks, I had withdrawn wondering if I could still offer you something of value. Encouraged by my wife, Audrey and son, Ryan, I have risen to a new understanding of my obligation to all of you and to myself. In this article, I proclaim that I am ignoring my own prediction. Not doing so means that I would be accepting defeat. Something that will never happen. I now assume that 450 ppm is not a number written in stone. No one, and that includes me, can truly know the exact CO2 level where change is not possible.

Meanwhile, CO2 has continued to accumulate in the atmosphere. If we do not manage to stop it then our temperature will continue to rise step in step with the rise of CO2. First to 500 then beyond. At 650, the temperature will be 4 degrees Celsius higher or 7-8 degrees Fahrenheit. The latest evidence indicates that 650 will be reached before the end of the century. What’s beyond is too frightening to imagine.

Even if we stop burning fossil fuels, the time when CO2 will start coming down is unknown. It may not stop. I feel desperate as I make this final plea to stop burning fossil fuels. No other method is now known that will make any difference to our future. We have looked at a variety of ways to slow up the accumulation of CO2, or find new places to store it or bring it out of the atmosphere to no avail. No breakthroughs were realized.

We must not forget that even if we are able to finally stop the production of CO2, we still must deal with methane. There is no way to stop its increasing release from permafrost slowly melting over the entire Arctic area. As it melts, it fosters greater breakdown and greater release of methane. In 2012, methane only accounted for 1.75 ppm of all greenhouse gases. Today the amount released is far greater. Have we reached that feared tipping point? Pray we have not.

Finally, I ask myself and I ask you. What can we do today? Even if we are successful in stopping the burning of fossil fuels It will take time before we know if we’re succeeding. If we are locked into a devastating future, we must find methods to adapt and even survive in an increasingly hostile world. Such as life will be, maintaining some semblance of a reasonable life will be paramount. The world will be vastly different.

My final and most essential question remains. Can we elect representatives who will once and for all authorize the ending of the burning of fossil fuels? For the world to take this path the United States must lead. We must look to the future as a way to change our government. Can we elect a completely green President and Congress who will have the power and courage to fight the oil companies and their lobbyists? It may be impossible to understand how they will continue to support the burning of fossil fuels, but they still put up the old arguments.

The old refrain is like a bad joke. Jobs will be lost; infrastructure throughout the world needs oil and gas. Our civilization will end without oil and gas; we would have no civilization. These are all fallacious arguments. Don’t be deceived. A number of small countries have already switched to renewables. Some use hydrogen, and have stopped using fossil fuels. It will take years to convert to renewables, but time is running and we must start. NOW.

What do we personally do in the meantime? If global warming continues even before we learn whether it is controlled by an unstoppable feedback loop, we must learn how to live in this world.

In future articles I will address both the urgency to have a different government and how to focus on new ways to adapt as our conditions worsen. I will address in detail the essential differences in John’s and my approach to fighting global warming. Unless we can enlist the people to vote for green candidates and trust that the government will move aggressively against the oil interests, neither of us will prevail.

 

It is also important that you know that my wife and I have taken separate ideological paths. We have worked together for decades following similar ideas but essentially dealing with different subjects. Now the weather conditions have worsened and she has elected to support John Curtis, who is as interested in stopping global warming as anyone.

John and I are both dedicated to fighting global warming. Our approaches differ and I have elected to continue following my own path. My wife, as you have already learned through three poems, has heralded the arrival of John as a new leader of Coalition II. John is a fiery and effective leader and I wish him well in his fight to save the planet. There are now many focused and effective leaders in this fight. The planet needs us all.

Audrey and I will continue to support each other. Our love and friendship are not at stake. It is how we pursue our goal of preservation of the earth and our civilization that has changed.

Audrey is a unique advocate of our struggle to control the climate. Her poems have inspired countless people to come forth and find ways to better our world. There is no other who can take over her role. In the coming years, we will need her more than ever. She will continue to touch our souls and nourish our spirits. We await her further guidance and inspiration.

My friends, we have trying times ahead. Together we shall prevail in finally creating a green government that will set in motion the end of the burning of fossil fuels. The dreadful calamity awaiting our planet will be averted.

We will stand together.

Ron Barrett

 

A deep well of gratitude came over her as she realized the struggle that Ron was undergoing to both support the changes in their relationship and to resume his position fighting global warming. A few minutes later she found him immersed in working. Without a word she put her arms around him and kissed him and said, “Darling, it was wonderful. You touched all the meaningful subjects. Thank you for your sensitive understanding of my position and John’s view.”

“It’s what I now believe, John murmured softly. “Ryan and you have helped me see myself more clearly. For a time I thought I might lose control, but I believe I’m all right now. Honey, I want you to know that our love will endure as will our struggle to gain climate control.”

“I love you,” Audrey said. “Going our separate ways to protect the planet should have no impact on our love and marriage. The dangers are so enormous that all tactics and approaches should be tried. There is very little to lose now.”

“No, nothing to lose,” Ron affirmed.

Audrey assured her husband that she would support his approach equally with her support of John. Ron accepted that their future, though changed, would still focus on fighting global warming and in Ron’s case finding ways to ease the coming burdens that most people would suffer. Ron reassured her that he would not interfere with her offering John her full support.

They also discussed that their son, Ryan, was now making it clear that he had become a follower of John’s, but also fully supported his father. Ron and Audrey realized that the conditions of their family were changing. Each member was going on their individual journey, but the family and their love would remain intact. Their objective was to be effective and productive.

 

Ron submitted the article to the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle. The syndication went to over 500 newspapers. People had waited for news of his health and well-being. All was now put to rest. The article was read widely and brought tears to many devoted friends and environmentalists who depended on him for guidance. A new sense of hope came to many readers knowing that Ron Barrett had returned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 21

 

 

Friday morning, John left for Boston on a late morning plane out of San Francisco. Boston was extremely hot and humid. By agreement with Marge he took a cab to a nearby airport hotel, had a simple dinner alone and retired. The following morning she picked him up after breakfast and drove directly to Harvard, parked and walked quickly to the conference room. A chorus of hellos greeted John who went over to shake the hands of many of the students.

Marge quickly introduced John to the group. “We are now 44 members,” she said. “Initially John had asked that we limit the group to 40 but with his OK we did send out invitations to 12 new colleges assuming that several might reject the idea. On the

contrary, we got a number of rather angry emails from those colleges we had not selected. I had to hurriedly write them saying that the selection was arbitrary and in no way reflected on those not being selected as being unacceptable.

“I was surprised that the response was so overwhelmingly positive. I think these handful of colleges represent just the tip of the iceberg, at least what’s left of icebergs,” she chuckled, causing laughter to ring out, “We may strictly be the vanguard of the future of this organization. It also seems that everyone in the Harvard Coalition II now wants to be part of this think tank.”

“Same at my school,” a voice rang out. “I’m from Mass U. and we almost came to blows to make our final selection. Finally did it by lottery.” Other voices became a chorus of ‘we too.’”

John, observing what was happening, was not able to suppress a wide grin. Beyond expectation, he thought. Maybe we can push our agenda faster than I anticipated.

“John, as you all know,” Marge continued, “is now openly supported by Audrey, who is our spiritual guide. By giving John her blessing, she has given this organization enormous social and even political power, since indirectly Audrey is also supporting us. I imagine that when she hears from John what is happening that she might actually write a poem about us. But that’s my dream,” Marge smiled.

“John is so well known to all of us that we don’t need any further ado. I proudly present our very own John Curtis.” Brief burst of clapping, then quietness.

“Hello everyone,” John started. “I’m glad to welcome the new members into this special organization. We had a major purpose in establishing this think tank, and it needs immediate implementation. We must, and I emphasize must, find new ways to stop the burning of fossil fuels.

“I know many of you, but am aware that I’m meeting some of you for the first time. I will eventually know all of you very well. We are 44 strong and our individual voices will soon become one very powerful voice. Within this group, I expect to hear diverse opinions, ideas, contrary thoughts, and even out and out disagreements. That is how it should be.

“Eventually when all is aired then we must be able to solidify our ideas and come to absolute unanimous agreements regarding our coming activities. We need to be unified. We will become more that just words. We will become known for actively pursuing the fight against global warming.

“We will not hurt or destroy anyone or anything, and we are not going to attempt the overthrow of our ineffective government or incite violence. The only thing that matters is what will influence global warming. Remember, we are a think tank, that is, we think. No impulsivity, no ill-considered behavior. Wanting to move ahead without thinking through actions is not to happen. Is that understood?

“We have a common goal and that is to win our fight against global warming. An arduous task. If it can be accomplished, our purpose will have been served. It’s a monumental task. We must not interfere with our accomplishing it. I don’t want this activity to be a major burden on your shoulders but, in a certain way, the entire world will be watching. The future for the entire planet is at stake.”

A student raised his hand and spoke out. “Is that all that we intend to do is think out new plans. By the way my name is Claude”

“No, Claude,” Marge broke in. “Sit tight you’ll soon get to know our intentions.”
“Also,” John said. “Now would be a good time to go over the minutes of the last meeting and bring the new members up to date regarding what has already been done.”

John nodded to Marge to take over and have the secretary read the minutes of that meeting and field all questions so the larger group was on the same page.

While the secretary was reading, John observed the interaction of the larger group and considered how to further discuss the idea of a camp that would include training the members to fight. It would be like a modified army boot camp. He believed more strongly that nothing new would be produced by this group without developing into a known fighting force, a principle already accepted a few weeks earlier.

How would a single camp do that? Obviously, the concept must spread and he knew that would become his greatest task. With the next presidential election less than 4 ½ months away, the entire Student Coalition must be mobilized to help elect green candidates. He doubted that the tiny think tank could have much influence in that short time, but it must become active quickly.

If the concept of the think tank could spread they could begin influencing the coming election, especially the House. If most representatives elected were green that would be a great start. By the mid-term election, the objective could be 100 % green House and the elected 1/3 of the senators green. If the Democratic President is reelected then it might be possible to persuade him at that time to exercise his influence and stop the burning of fossil fuels.

When Marge alerted him that the new group seemed satisfy with the review of the previous meeting, John took over the meeting. “First, are there any questions regarding where we stand now?” No responses.

“Then I assume we’re all in the same ballpark and ready to face the vast problems that will test our mettle.

“Up to now despite the extensive education of the world’s public about the causes of global warming and the rapid development and use of renewables, CO2 continues to go up. Fossil fuels are still being burned and methane production is rapidly increasing,

which is becoming self sustaining.

“An added danger that may turn out to be the most underappreciated cause of global warming accelerating is the disappearance of all the summer ice in the Arctic. A century ago, there were 11 million square kilometers of Arctic ice at least seven feet thick during the summer. Now that is gone. The climate game has changed. The dark ocean is absorbing up to 90 % of the sun’s heat during the summer months when daylight is 24 hours a day. Previously, when there was ice, 80 to 90 % of the heat was reflected back into space.

“No one yet knows the full danger that this degree of additional heat will add to global warming, but I’m certain you have all read that it could be the stroke that has doomed us to a catastrophe beyond anything yet imagined. When we add the rapidly increasing melting of the Greenland and the West Antarctica ice caps and the accelerating calving, which many scientists now believe may have started a feedback loop our danger has intensified. None of this is new but increases the urgency of stopping the burning of fossil fuels.

“However, we mustn’t let doomsday predictions interfere with our task of continuing our fight. No one truly knows the future and as grim as it appears, there is no certainty that we can’t win our fight.

“We have much to do. Before this meeting is over I would like a small inner group to be elected by you, so my contacts will be limited to a few who can then notify all of you for feedback and decision making. You will ultimately be involved with all decisions. What we are doing is so momentous and important that no one person can hope to grasp all the details. I am depending on your personal abilities. I will offer as much as I can and will write articles as necessary. As we evolve, it might prove prudent for some of you, perhaps several groups, to write articles from the viewpoint of the student and young citizens.”

John paused and now waited for some reaction.

“What ideas do you want to share? Speak out,” he addressed the entire group. John was surprised at the reluctance of the students to express their ideas. Finally, Dave, self-proclaimed big mouth, stood up. “Some of you already know that I’m for fighting. Nothing has ever worked. We have tried marches, handing out pamphlets,

standing in front of banks, sit-ins on streets, having musicals at great stadiums with our best bands, rallies on every campus in the country. We even tried convincing large groups of people to go on strike and stop supporting various corporations, even stopping buying gas for our cars for up to a week at a time as a protest.

“Except for making headlines nothing ever changed. Sometimes a CEO would acknowledge change and say he was influenced by the Coalition. But as the years unfolded the reactions became more subdued. People just grew inured to our tactics and were coming to accept the inevitable living in a Hell hole. For a while I even thought I’ll just continue to go to school and when I become to upset or angry just get drunk until I felt better. But that didn’t work for long. Living in a world that someone else designed to make us suffer was beyond my ability to accept. So I’m back at my original idea to go out and fight.”

Harriet stood up and gave Dave a thumbs up and loudly exclaimed, “I’m with Dave 100 %. Let’s fight the government. What do we lose? Living in Hell, roasting alive, waiting to die. Anything would be an improvement. I still get mad as Hell when I think what our own fathers and mothers did to us. Is that a sign of hate or rejection? Or just their plain stupidity.”

She sat down with a raucous screech. “Let’s fight. Enough talking. Let’s fight.”
“I already understand,” John intervened, “that many of you feel the some as Dave and Harriet, but as I said earlier, we are a think tank and we think and do not act impulsively.

“We need to figure out what will actually convert people to our point of view. Since the government is the obstacle to change then we need to elect a hundred percent green President and Congress who will start the process to stop fossil fuel burning. It must be a Congress who will finally stand up to big oil and lobbyists. This idea must quickly spread worldwide.

“Despite no longer being the primary economy in the world our presence and leadership in so many areas are still respected. The world will be watching us. But unless the government changes I doubt that the rest of the world will do anything. Most of the world knows the predictions and have lived through the most difficult couple of decades, especially the last ten years, and have seen the effects. Yet the world doesn’t act.

“You are among the brightest students in the nation. We have to produce ideas that we know will work. We need to convince families and friends to get people riled up to elect a green Congress and President. You have the information and will have more. We mustn’t lose. We need to be very persuasive to get people to respond so they can’t say no. We must have a green Congress by our next mid-term election in two years.

“Let’s do some brain work,” John urged. “I would like this group to plan to meet once a week or more frequently in person and not just online or by video conferencing, although for larger meetings that might suffice. The idea is to establish a true think tank and that includes brainstorming. We need ideas that can stand the test of time.

“Believe in yourselves. Use any mental tricks you know to foster your creativity. Above all, eliminate negativism. We will all share in the discoveries and ideas that might lead to change. My friends, we are in a race for our lives. The result will be either the end of our current world or the slowdown of global warming that will prevent our civilization from being destroyed. What has already happened will not quickly recover, but the earth that we love will not die. I hope and pray that we make this happen. The obstacles are formidable and there will be people who will oppose us, no matter how insane that may appear to us. Never accept defeat. Find ways to overcome all opposition.

“Now let’s take a one hour break. Go out for lunch or get a bite or take a walk. When we resume, we shall discuss the meaning and development of the camp and what we want to gain from it. It may be the crucial element in our fight to change the climate.”

Marge Chung remained behind with John as the other students left to find lunch elsewhere. She brought out a bag and gave John a sandwich and a bottle of apple juice. Once settled, she immediately asked, “John, do you really believe that we need an uprising against our government in order to get any action to control the climate?”
“The answer is in what has happened in the past couple of decades when Ron Barrett did everything any rational and brilliant person like he is could do. The idea of zero

emissions never caught on because of the power of oil. Frankly, I have no idea whether there is anything anyone can do, but we have no choice but to make this effort. The future is so bleak that we may be staring at the end of our world.

“Marge, we’re really in unknown land. Once CO2 passed 400, the territory became new and uncharted. 15 million years ago as you know from Barrett’s articles when 400 was reached the world’s temperature was 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher and the sea was over 70 feet higher. There was no Arctic Sea cap, very little ice on Greenland and the Antarctica. Which may account for why the temperature was so much higher.

“But then CO2 rising to that level took thousands of years, not like now when the change occurred in 200 years. Although this knowledge is well known, it mustn’t interfere with carrying out our program to attempt to finally cut down and eventually stop fossil fuel burning. That is the only thing we can do and have to hope that once we reach zero emissions that it will turn the tide and start to bring down CO2.”

“If only we had followed Barrett’s advice years ago,” Marge whispered. “Maybe we’d be coming down to a safe 350 CO2 level.”

“Barrett is a very wise man,” John said. “His vision was prescient, but unfortunately it did not sway oil or Congress.”

“Do you think that a few students can make a difference?”
“I expect a big following of students. We do need numbers and that translates into power. Audrey’s support could prove the catalyst we need.

“We must make this work. I don’t hide that being on the verge of catastrophe literally terrifies me,” John acknowledged. “Not being able to live life out in relative peace and health was not in my game plan. I need to believe we can win this battle.

“Some of the other students are returning. I’m glad we had this talk, Marge. You’re an important part of this organization and a good friend.”

 

“Everybody take their seats,” Marge’s voice rang out. “We have lots of business ahead and need to get started.”

Marge waited until everyone was seated and the noise had abated. “John wants to begin.” She nodded to John who immediately scanned the group and quietly asked. “Any questions?”

“I’m Reggie,” a tall skinny kid called out. “What’s all the fuss over camps?” Everyone here has been to one sometime in their life.”
After a few snickers, John replied, “Reggie’s right. No fuss needed. Instead let’s discuss what you expect our camps to offer you and how do you see the purpose of such a camp from your viewpoint?

Ed immediately stood up. “It is clear that these camps are being set up to train us to fight. That’s what we need and this action will show the world we mean business. John, I know you made it clear that we’re not starting a rebellion but to win this battle we need to fight. Our government has totally screwed us and may have already doomed us to a living death. I say let’s get on with it and start this camp now.”

“Right on, Ed,” several voices said in unison. “We’re with you.”

A murmur of approval swept through the group.

“I don’t think that this camp should only be about learning to fight,” Rhonda stood quietly. “For those who don’t know me, I’m Rhonda and a citizen of China. “We need to establish an image that we are thinkers and mediators who reflect on their actions. That would make us much more effective and cultivate more support, I believe. We would also get more worldwide support.”

A short squat student with flaming red hair stood and waved to several other students. “Hello everyone, I’m Chuck. Obviously once we speak out John will let us know what is really the purpose of this camp. First, it must appeal to other students. We need millions of students following us. Our country only respects power. Without it, we would be whistling in the dark.

“Consider that everything that has been done never solved the real problem. People don’t care and would let this country and the world be destroyed before they would raise a finger to stop it. Well, we need to also be ruthless and use power and, if necessary, use threats of violence. The idea of dying for this cause doesn’t appeal to me but unless we can categorically state that we are willing to die, we’ll never be believed.

“I know from hearing about the previous meeting that the original group agreed on dying for the cause. Does that mean we take up arms? I’m not sure we need that but I see no harm in learning about firearms. Our country still trains people our age to fight and kill. They call it a professional army, but it’s the same killing.

“I’ll end this by also agreeing with Rhonda that we need to express the other side of power and that is the power of love and benevolence and peace. Can war and peace come together? Well that’s what we have a leader for. We already know that Audrey’s husband does not openly support fighting or killing and believes other methods would work. Trouble is, up to now, they didn’t work. I’ve seen nothing that indicates a passive approach will work this time.

“Obviously, his wife believes that John has a better chance of finally stopping global warming. I’m a big skeptic but also am willing to fight and give my life for this cause. And we are fighting for our lives.”

Chuck sat down, noisily accompanied by a burst of applause.

John mulled over the ideas that had thus far been voiced. Two themes stood out. Fighting and reflective thinking. A blend of these two ideas began to form in his mind.

While mulling over this idea, a willowy, young, attractive woman stood and seemed to stare at John but also into space beyond him. For what appeared to be a long time, she just stood and seemed to be quietly moving into herself. Everyone became very quiet and waited. “I have several names,” she said as though singing a song. “My parents call me Darshini. My friends call me Harshini. My spiritual name is Ruhin.

“Our world is going down in flames before its time. Man has blinded himself to a life of deceit and remains buried in a casket of death. Those who claim power have taken on the mantle of God to will us to suffering and ultimately death. No one can do that. No one should have that power to bring such suffering to the world.

“I am a woman of peace and love, but now I have turned to rage. Each morning and each night as I gaze at my young daughter, only two, who faces the desperation and hopelessness that will come to all of us as the heat grows. Today, I have taken a vow that I will destroy those who want to destroy my child and me. No man and no woman should take the life of a tiny child, innocent and loving and stomp it underfoot. I will rise with those who rise against those who have caused our suffering.

“I am now taking on a new name. It is Kali. In an early incarnation, Kali was an annihilator of evil forces. I am the Consort of Shiva. I am empowerment. We will win our battle with evil.” With gracefulness and poise, she sat down and continued to look out at space. No one moved and no one spoke. John, like the others, had come under her spell. Such rage, he thought. A rage that comes from her innermost being. Is this what others feel. A rage that will drive people to kill. John did not speak for several minutes.

Thoughts of Kali’s inner reflections, her inner beauty, her fragile external self and fear for the death of her tiny child caused a mist to appear in his eyes. Changing her name to Kali. I wonder what it means to her to take on a new identity?

John, finally felt that he must break the strange spell that had spread over the group. “Thank you, Kali. Your words have moved all of us. I understand how you feel when you see your world, our world, being taken way by selfish, unfeeling and even hating people. Your daughter does face a frightening world. We will do everything possible to make her future peaceful and free of danger.”

John looked around the room at the serious faces. “What other thoughts do you have,” he said. No one spoke.

“Kali’s words seem to summarize how most of us feel,” John reflected.

“Perhaps we should now turn to the practical aspects of starting the camp. As of now we don’t know how other colleges will react once they learn about our camp but let’s make certain that our own plans are solid and understood.

“I intend to have camp outings at least twice a month. I’ll try to schedule them at least two weeks in advance but occasionally I may surprise you with an unscheduled outing. I do that only to keep us on our toes. Anyone, of course, who is busy doing something important would not have to come, otherwise these outings are essential to our future development.

“We will have a period of meditation to begin each outing. The content may change and I may at times ask some of you to lead it. I’ll have retired army officers teach us the fundamentals of drills and the use of arms. Our teachers may include some of your parents. We shall not have any real weapons at these camps and for now, I don’t see any reason to learn how to use weapons. After we have a few outings I would then expect some of you at subsequent meetings to read papers, or discuss important topics, or acquaint us with new events or whatever is deemed important. Are there any questions or comments.”

“What do we wear?”
“No uniforms. Wear what makes you comfortable.”
“What times are the outings?”
“I am considering weekends. It would be an overnight so sleeping bags are necessary. I will see to it that we have food, a cook and helpers with the chow. Later we may decide that we’ll handle those chores or activities. I have already spoken to parents who have agreed to supply the food and take care of feeding us. They will be the first of ancillary personnel who will share the camping experience. If any of your parents want to help out, let Marge know.”

“Will Harvard have anything to do with this?”
“No. We have full clearance from the administration. They do expect us to behave like proper citizens. I assured them we all felt the same and would respect all rules. In my meeting with several members of the administration, I especially indicated, on answering a specific question about rumors they heard that we were planning some sort of

insurrection, that we were not planning to break the law or have an insurrection.

“Our purpose is to develop our bodies and minds to gain more inner power to finally bring change. I did not hide our belief that the government has been irresponsible trying to bring down global warming in the last quarter of century. Our focus will be on a rational approach to stop global warming once and for all and that the government will see what is rational. By making our presence known we hope the world uses our insights and power to wake up.

“What this organization will stress is that this has to be a wake-up call for all people, including those beyond our own shores. Do any of you have any doubts or questions about these statements? It doesn’t mean that we have to hide from our true feelings as has been expressed in this meeting. Our actions are what will count.”

There were murmurs of approval. No one spoke, however.

John continued, “I don’t believe there is anyone under 18 here so you don’t need parental approval. However, I would like to get a note, they can be by email from each parent, indicating they understand the purpose of the camp and give their approval. I do this for several reasons. We need parents involved. Many of your parents are powerful, political people and can be of real benefit to us. We need everyone who is willing and interested in helping this movement. It concerns everyone, of all ages and social status. I am making this approval a condition of being a member of this organization. Anyone have any problems with this?”

John paused and waited, surveying the body of students waiting for him to speak again. No one spoke against parental approval.

“As you know this entire meeting was videotaped and I would now like to ask that you select a committee of a half dozen students who can take the video, edit it and show it to other members of our organization for approval. Then send it to me to look over. Do all this without uploading it to YouTube.

“We need a one hour summary of this meeting and also the edited version of the entire meeting. This is consistent with our keeping our work totally transparent. This should not make it difficult to speak out here. We may have different opinions, but we speak for truth. If we all agree, After the editing you can break the full video into hourly segments and submit it to YouTube. How many would prefer that? Show hands.”

Most of the 44 members raised their hands. “I agree with you. Hopefully, we can upload the condensed version by Wednesday or Thursday. The following day we could upload a segment of the full version and continue that on a daily basis until the entire conference is on view. If you prefer we could upload the entire full conference at one time. You can decide that among yourselves.

“Remember our work is all in the open. No secrets. Nothing hidden. I don’t want or expect any editing out of material that makes you uncomfortable. If we can’t handle our own truths then how could we expect to convince the country that we are serious and are willing to face any issues, criticism and attacks.

“ We’ll soon find out what reactions will come once the video is seen. I don’t want our work to interfere with any studies you are currently undergoing. Most of you are probably in your summer break. Keep in mind that the camp outings will always be on weekends.

“I hope that we can get this uploaded in three days or less. I’ll remain in Boston for several days in order to be here for consultation, questions, appraisal of parts of the video and the like. The remaining areas that will remain in your hands is the establishment of all committees needed, the selection of one or more secretaries and other leaders of subcommittees.

“You should work out a viable way for rapid contact for the 13 universities in our organization. Although I would like to know all the important issues that come up, I want you to know you have the right and the responsibility to govern your organization. I may be the leader but I am not controlling this. Your own interest and high motivation to protect our planet is what drives all of us.

“To establish an effective organization I would expect you to have at least two meetings before our first camping experience and work out all the details including possibly establishing a set of principles, or some sort of constitution you can agree on. The date of our camp outing is two weeks from today; that includes the weekend. Does that interfere with any known school functions?”

No one objected.

“I am looking forward to getting to know all of you much better. We have much at stake and as we build support from students around the country I hope that we can move very rapidly toward winning this battle. We must do it. We will do it.

“Any questions?”
“OK, in that case I’ll hand over the meeting to Marge who will close it.”
A burst of clapping made clear that enthusiasm prevailed as the meeting was closing down. Marge merely said, “Meeting adjourned.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 22

 

Early Thursday morning the one-hour version of the first meeting of the Harvard 44 had been released. The reaction was like an explosion that removed any doubts about the acceptance of aggression in the fight to overcome global warming. John came to the restaurant early preoccupied with the latest tally on what was now being called a major event.

As he reflected on the exciting news, Audrey entered and he blurted out the news that surprised her. “Since the video was released early this morning about eight hours ago, Boston time” he said, “over 300,000 students from a variety of colleges have shown

interest in joining our think tank, or starting one of their own and setting up camps. Marge has conferred with other students throughout the country getting a personal feel for their enthusiasm and seriousness. She is so high over what’s happened that she could hardly talk coherently. She said that every hour the number goes up and is accelerating.”

“That’s truly astonishing,” Audrey reacted. “You must really feel a great sense of accomplishment.”

“I do, but mostly I feel that maybe we can truly move our program and get the government to take real steps. We’re having our first camp outing the weekend after next. By then we may have half the Coalition II students in new organizations. And you should know that there is an exodus of Coalition I members to Coalition II since that is seen as a condition of joining the new movement.”

Audrey pondered that news. “It doesn’t surprise me, although I imagine that Ron may not take kindly to the shift of power, at first. But John, I want to assure you that it may be the necessary step needed to move your agenda. There is so much at stake that Ron won’t overreact to it. After all, he wants what you do. Your power will lie in having the vast majority of students following you. If the government feels that most college kids are now sufficiently angry and intent on change maybe they’ll sit up and finally take notice. Also, I believe that eventually Ron and you will find a way to combine your efforts. Ron would never interfere with change that seems to be working. There is so much at stake.”

“Let’s order lunch,” John broke in. Coffee and omelets were selected.

“Here’s the rest of the news,” he continued. “The overwhelming reaction caught everyone off guard and the University was not equipped to handle such an onslaught of online communication. So a couple of the students quickly asked some of their fathers for help. Their response was immediate and very helpful. They set up offices in their companies with secretaries and diverted all the emails to the new secretaries. As the extent of the reaction became clearer their fathers hired new back-up secretaries and set up a special reception office for routing emails based on content.”

“In what way?” Audrey asked.

“Some emails were questions, others wanted information to form camps, others to have directions to start a new organization, others how the two coalitions differed. Was John taking over Coalition I? Students immediately volunteered to oversee the operation. It appears that the students will handle this effectively.

“There were hundreds of students wanting to help. Audrey, you can’t imagine how rapidly this is happening. The Harvard 44 students quickly wrote automatic responses to alert the newcomers of the overwhelming response and indicating that a more detailed response was forthcoming.”
“John, this is almost unbelievable,” Audrey whispered, “actually quite thrilling. Can this be the needed step to convert the government into action and start to bring down the greenhouse gases?”
“I know. I believe that what I thought would take many months to unfold can be compressed into weeks. There are only 4 months to the election.

“While I was sitting here waiting for you I began to consider that perhaps we can move our agenda to influence the elections for this year. That would put us two years ahead. We need the time and I believe that with the right push we can do it.”
Audrey felt an inner exhilaration that maybe John was the link to change. A surge of what could only be described as love surged through her. She was so relieved that tears welled up in her eyes. Dear God, she inwardly prayed. Please make this happen. Don’t let us die in such suffering. Please, dear God.

“Maybe this is the link that Ron could see as helping you,” she said softly as she reached out her hand to touch him. “Ron has always felt that if there was a 100% green Congress and President that they could force big oil to succumb.

“This may provide the opportunity that will bring you two together. I think I’ll approach him once we have a few more days of data and that Coalition I is becoming an organization of the past. I’m not fully clear what this will mean but in the meantime I will write a new poem addressing the meaning of 450 and the absolute need of Congress to act. I could write it and let Ron check it over which would introduce the subject of supporting that idea.”

Audrey now paused before bringing up the subject that now entered her mind.

“John, would this influence the degree of aggression you introduce into the camps?”
“I don’t know. Most of the Harvard 44 is touting an aggressive approach and a fighting army appeals to them. The students will be interacting and this approach will quickly spread. Also, the videos makes this position clear. When the full video is released during the next few days, there will be no question about this attitude since that video was essentially left exactly as the meeting proceeded. None of the ideas or language were left out or modified.

“Some of it is quite provocative. But I intend to keep everything transparent. It’s all there to be appraised. I also will make clear that words can express feelings that don’t automatically translate into action. We will act only after careful reflection and taking the pulse of the students. I am considering quoting “give me liberty or give me death,” to give people an idea of what’s in store.”

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Audrey said. “After all, that famous quote got tied into the American Revolution and people may assume you were warning them that you would support such an uprising.”
John considered her words. “You may be right. Let people make what they want from the video. There is no doubt once they see the power of the videos that journalists will do their thing and interpret what they want. My purpose is to awaken the government and, if we go ahead full steam, to elect a green House and the beginning of a fully green Senate in November.”

“Ron has to know that is your primary purpose and not starting a war,” Audrey said. “I wonder if he has heard the brief version yet? I was very busy this morning and didn’t know it had been released. When I left home to come here, I don’t believe that Ron had seen it, at least he said nothing to me, if he did. When I leave here, I’m returning home and will go online and discover it, unless I decide to tell him about our meeting. I doubt that I will, since I prefer he views the video and makes a unilateral decision. I’ll look at it with him and actually will be seeing it for the first time myself.”

“That should work well,” John said. “Ron, will then become aware that we stress the two sides of our fighting stance. The aggressive and the meditative. We will emphasize both in the camp outings and make that a part of the information being sent to other students.”

“Yes that will be important to Ron. Also, Ryan, who supports you, will try to influence his father. Later on I’ll call him and see what he thinks of all this.

“He feels very positive about you and has the capacity to support both you and his father. He doesn’t hide where his new allegiance is and Ron accepts it. I also think that Ron respects Ryan’s judgment which will influence him.

“John, this is all so exciting and for the first time in ages I feel hopeful. Ron needs to move beyond his belief that 450 was the doomsday signal when CO2 showed acceleration, which it does. To me it is only a number and with a gigantic effort we can bring it down.”
“Ron could bring enormous influence to do it if he begins to write and we have common interests,” John said. “I agree focusing on Congress could be the stimulus. If Congress goes green and we elect the Democratic incumbent we would have the power to change the climate. The power of massive numbers of students and the supportive adults would definitely influence the government. The fear everyone has will form the impetus for this to take off. People have become so passive and disbelieving, but they want to believe. Being given a shot in the arm could make this happen very quickly.”

“John, I hope so. I’ll help you as much as possible,” Audrey murmured. “I have faith in you. We must work together.”

At end of lunch John looked at Audrey intently, “Audrey, I would really enjoy meeting next Tuesday for dinner instead of lunch. We could meet at a quiet restaurant in Palo Alto at whatever time you wanted.”

Audrey thought about it before replying. “I would also enjoy that. Where would you like to meet?”
“I’ll call you in a couple of days and let you know where. I want to find a quiet and intimate setting.”
Audrey smiled, “I would like that.”

John walked Audrey to her car. When they were ready to part, they came together and clung to each other reacting to the growing attraction now influencing their relationship.

 

At home, Ron and Audrey watched the brief version of the Harvard 44 meeting. Little was said, but it was clear that Ron watched with much interest and said nothing to indicate any unfavorable reactions. Audrey emphasized the dual approach of aggression and meditation and the idea of fighting for a green Congress in the coming election. Ron did indicate that he was waiting to see the entire meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 23

 

 

In the following days, the administration personnel from a number of universities contacted Harvard to see how they were handling the incredible influx of student interaction. The purpose of these new meetings had become very clear with the release of the full videos. Harvard remained very supportive and indicated that they expected the students to respect all regulations and to maintain good behavior.

The Harvard administration was aware that most of the professional staff were backing the students. So far, all the aggression had been talk and John was seen as a worthy leader who understood the need of control if he expected to be able to stop global warming. Nevertheless, the administration established a watchdog committee to assess other evidence of anger, violence and of acting out aggressive tendencies.

Members of Coalition II watched their ranks swell and noted the overwhelming support from parents and alumni. New hope had arisen at a time when gloom had settled on most of the country’s population. Ron was notified by a number of the leaders of various Coalition I groups that they were disbanding as everybody was moving over to Coalition II. Although he forwarded many of the emails to Audrey, he made no comments about the change or the obvious shift of the true leadership of the Student Coalition to John.

Both video versions of the conference spread like wildfire throughout the world. The idea of the camp and developing think tanks became a unifying theme for the world’s college students. High school students soon followed in establishing new programs and camp outings became a vehicle attracting on-the-fence students. Vast numbers of adults began to develop ancillary camps to support the students. Journalists searched in vain for similar periods when such large number of students and adults had joined forces to champion a mutually meaningful political and social uprising.

The world had awakened to the new power that John wielded. The members of the Harvard 44 as they came to be known, were interviewed and appeared on many local and national news programs. None took individual credit. All saw this as a group effort under the aegis of John and Audrey.

 

Parents grew very fervent. Most deliberately designed ancillary camps to follow the same program as the children. Dozens of mantras and rallying calls passed around the world. The weather must be changed. The Time is now. We will not be defeated. The people will prevail. We are the government. The world must become green. The planet will rise again. John will lead us to victory.

John decided that he would push the agenda and with the vast number of supporters he felt ready to put the election of a green Congress at the top of his agenda. The power and reputation of Coalition II was on the line. Nothing would stop him. Congress and the Presidency were in his sights.

 

When Audrey and John met for dinner Tuesday, the world seemed different. The population of the United States was sharpening its teeth for civil confrontations not seen for decades. The seething anger lying dormant for years was on the verge of erupting.

These two leaders were vibrating with expectations and growing excitement. Change was palpable and a new belief that the climate could be controlled overcame hesitation and even judgment.

Mostly unspoken was the closeness that was enveloping them. They knew that the fate of the world was in part resting on their leadership. How their roles would play out was unclear, but their mutual status had been elevated.

As their dinner was coming to an end, with their minds filled with the excitement of collaborating in the coming fight and stirred by hope buoyed by their first awakening of love, Audrey and John, spent many minutes just looking at each other, not quite believing what was happening.

Holding hands, touching, imagining a new future, feeling that together they would be invincible, Audrey was drawn into a role of equality with John, a role she once shared with Ron. John at one point asked what she felt their growing passion for each other would do to her marriage.

Audrey thought before answering, “John, there are times in life when change is mandated. Often without conscious control or even conscious intent. I know in my heart that I must help you. I am beginning to love you. What is not to admit? You’re a wonderful and dedicated man in a cause that nurtures my life.

“I also love Ron, but it is different. I want to help him and when he asks or wants my support, I will give it to him wholeheartedly. John, I want to help you no matter what happens to our personal relationship. Loving you seems a part of my respect and hope that you can lead us to the changes that have proven so elusive and that Ron and I have striven to gain for so long.”
“Audrey, I completely understand you,” John replied softly, a deep reverence for the woman sitting so quietly across from him in his voice. “I love you. I think I loved you since that evening I came to your home. But my goal is to find a way to finally start the real movement to bring down CO2. I know that having you at my side will become pivotal in accomplishing this task. I know that we can do it.” he ended.

They arranged to put their next meeting on hold not knowing how long he would remain in Boston following the first weekend camp outing occurring in four days. John intended to be available for university personnel representing all the colleges represented by students on the Harvard 44. He had also agreed to be available for adults and family members of the students involved. He believed that the results of this first camping experience would set in motion the future for the Student Coalition.

Other leaders were clamoring for recognition, but none yet sought a position over these two figures. Others, less enthused, were also carefully watching the unfolding of the coming drama.

 

Following her meeting with John and dwelling in the emotions of her newly found love, Audrey wrote a new poem revealing a new distinctive style, bold, forceful showing a heightened call to action.

 

THE DAWNING OF A NEW AGE

 

Open wide your eyes, my friends,

Today is the dawning of a new age.

As hope springs into our world, into our lives, we now have the opportunity to change the dictates of destruction.

Can the world be saved?

Can it survive?

This is the time to set in motion new actions, bold tactics, creating a storm to change the world.

The climate can be controlled.

It is not too late.

You must believe.

We must move forward.

We must band together.

We must be a unified country and lead our world to a safer place. No one would oppose us.

This is not a time to falter.

We have been led to believe that it is too late. No one knows. I don’t. You don’t. No one does.

We need change.

No one knows the time that remains. If we truly believed that the world was coming to an end, we should all curl up and wait to die. That will never be.

We have a leader who will take us far.

Who will take us to a world that is remote and now invisible, but under his leadership that world will again become visible.

Students of the world have arisen,

Students of the world are coming together in a way that no one could have foreseen. In the midst of the heat, students rise up refreshed, ready to fight.

We know what lies ahead.

No one must stop us.

Stopping us cannot happen.

We have an opportunity to make our world alive again and turn off this destructive path and the spigot of hate. We must proceed.

We must take that path.

NOW.

NOW.

Choice is not an option. Any opposition must be overcome.

We have the leaders.

We need the will.

We must go forward. No matter what lies ahead.

Time is running out.

We can’t falter.

We won’t falter.

We must not falter.

We will not falter.

Our FUTURE will once again flourish.

 

She sent the poem to the New York Times late that Tuesday evening. It would be published on Thursday two days before the opening of the first “weather camp” as it came to be called. The world gasped at her directness. Who are the “leaders” she mentioned? Could she be referring to both John and Ron? Was Audrey, herself, assuming a more significant role in the coming confrontation? Are she and John joining forces? Are there others? Audrey remained mum. The world was awakening to the changes ahead.

 

Ron was now quietly assessing the rising momentum and determining his role to further what could be the final fight toward ending the burning of fossil fuels. Subduing his doubts and the results from his previous research, he sought a role to actively help John and his wife.

No time for regrets, wondering about the growing connection of Audrey and John or putting any obstacles in the way of change. He knew that though his role in the world had lessened that millions of people waited for his position to become known. The world would not have long to wait.

Ron had awakened and was sharpening his own scalpel to carve a niche where he would again be instrumental in the coming struggle. Unlike his usual self-reliance he began to pray in earnest that God or whoever watched over the earth would not forsake them. He prayed for strength for Audrey and John. He prayed to God to use him to help save civilization and to give him new powers. He prayed for God to bless and protect the planet. He prayed for the survival of humanity.

 

As an initial gesture to aid the new coalition under John and Audrey, during the weekend when the weather camp was just beginning its operation, Ron Barrett made a magnanimous gesture in an article published on the Internet and subsequently syndicated in newspapers across the country. He called for the end of Coalition I and the resumption of the former Student Coalition. He declared forcefully that a unified force was needed. He would continue his former role as an educator and help provide new ideas and ways to proceed toward our common goal. Within hours his words were carried throughout the world. ias new voc

 

 

 

The article was quoted widely: “My wife, Audrey, has placed her full support behind the new coalition and its new leader, John Curtis. Our country must be totally unified behind this essential change. Every adult, every student and every child must be part of this first nationwide referendum. The entire population must stand together.

“The purpose is to stop global warming,” Ron declared, raising his voice in a powerful outburst of passion. His cry rose to a crescendo worldwide. Support was everywhere. Ron spoke of the financial aid that would be poured onto the movement to smooth the path. “No one doubts the urgency and the need of taking this step. The entire country and world clamor for an end to the burning of the earth. The future warns us of a living Hell.

“We must stop the burning of the earth. We must not reach the end of this century without the atmospheric CO2 coming down. The result of not reaching a global consensus and restoring sanity to the world is too terrifying to imagine. We must stop global warming. Join John Curtis. The fight ahead needs all of you.”

With this declaration, Ron Barrett came back into the small group of leaders that would guide the world toward a full commitment to end the burning of fossil fuels.

A few days later, a nationwide vote of the entire membership authorized by the council of the Student Coalition for Climate Control made the reversion back to a single name official. The positive response was overwhelming. The urgency of time was never more apparent.

The joining of Coalition I and II was seamless. Almost over night, the dual coalitions ceased to exist. Almost three million students were part of the new Coalition, once again assuming their former name the Student Coalition for Climate Control. The surge of power felt by the students was reminiscent of the early years of the Coalition. Most had never experienced the heady times when Ron was their spiritual guide. Today, John was supreme and wielded a new kind of power. Unlike Ron, he was actively involved with their activities and brought a new sense of hope and direction to the three million students in the United States.

Ryan called his father and said with a deep sense respect and love that due to his father’s open support that any remaining negativism about John disappeared. “I’m so proud of you, Dad, for supporting John. Dad, we’re going to beat global warming. I know we are.”

Ron winced hearing the enthusiasm of his son and knowing the frustrations and obstacles that stood in their way. Can we do this? Ron wondered, holding on to that faint sliver of hope that now fed his return to the role of a believer. I pray to God that it is not too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 24

 

 

The world was ablaze with a new fire. The first weather camp was a rousing success. John had arranged for two professional photographers to wander around the camp during the outing and take both videos and still pictures. Following the end of the camp outing, the videos, after editing, were released for public view consistent with John’s belief that their activities would always be transparent. The excitement, the student’s devotion to the program and the charismatic presence of John were clearly in evidence. The emphasis on the coming election and the necessity of electing green candidates were heralded as important changes in the pre-election dynamics. The weather camp was the talk of most campuses throughout the country.

 

With the election less than four months away the country buzzed with the prospect of a new force entering the election fray with the specific goal of getting only green candidates elected to Congress. To many it seemed highly unlikely that the country would finally go green to support the saving of civilization.

Big Oil tried to downplay the meaning of the camp outings and new composite organization. Lobbyists torn by their own fears struggled to support opposition to stopping fossil fuel production. Students began to plan marches opposing the oil companies. These marches would be different from earlier ones since they would be following a new highly aggressive leader. John promised to be a more interactive leader than Ron and to contribute more generously to the coalition.

 

Unlike the adulation of the students and hundreds of millions of people worldwide, many governments were taking a jaundiced view of the awakening of such a growing and threatening force that was directing its anger at the governments blamed for the potential catastrophe faced by the planet. They watched with increasing alarm as the country’s campuses were rapidly organizing to give full support to the Student Coalition. Throughout the country, hundreds of weather camp outings were being planned. Soon it would be thousands.

 

All this was known before an emergency meeting set up by the US government convened. In the hushed atmosphere of a federal building Home Security, the FBI, and certain members of the US Senate and House of Representatives secretly met to evaluate the meaning and effect of the first weather camp.

Roger Stokes called the meeting to order. The group of ten was hushed. No smiles. Some wore a grim and foreboding look. “You should all know that this meeting is being recorded,” Stokes announced. “At the express order from Foster Brown, it will be sent to him unedited. He is very concerned with the recent events. You all know he has an uncanny ability to see problems early and in the two years he has headed Home Security he personally ferreted out dangerous problems before others recognized their severity.

“He won’t be back in the states for three or four more days, but I can tell you that at the meeting in London he intends to discuss this problem. Everyone there anticipates that Curtis’s movement will spread overseas rapidly. I’ll send him the video the moment our meeting is over. He’s waiting for it.”

Jason Murphy, in his second term as a member of the House of Representatives, already known for his green stance and his outspoken and often critical attitude toward recalcitrant colleagues who refused to take a stand on global warming spoke out. “Is Brown actively involved with this problem or just taking a passive position?”

Stokes reacted sharply, “He’s always involved with all actions and decisions of the Home Security department. Nobody makes decisions without his knowledge or scrutiny.”

“OK,” Murphy shot back. “No need to get ruffled about it. I just like to know where this committee stands since it appears that I’m now part of it. And by the way Stokes, does Brown feel supportive toward Curtis?”

“Look Murphy, why don’t we just get on with the meeting? Many of your concerns and questions will be answered in due time.”
Murphy made no response. His face unsmiling, inscrutable. Stokes was not fooled. He was very aware of Murphy’s reputation of being direct and totally unafraid of speaking out. Besides being known as a hothead, his astuteness, high intelligence and quick assessments were known to Stokes, who was wary of antagonizing him.

He had been informed by Secretary Brown that the selection of Murphy for this committee had been made by the President and was to be kept secret. Stokes realized that the focus of Curtis and the Coalition was to elect a green government. The President’s reputation as an environmentalist and making whatever efforts he could to establish green laws, promote green in all areas possible, except the one that counted, was well known.

He was never willing to fight the oil interests by attempting to start the actual shutdown of fossil fuel burning, the primary area that Curtis would attack.

He was aware that Murphy had the ear of the Secretary and the President and would not hesitate to hold Stokes responsible for taking an inappropriate position. However, no one could fault him for following the protocol of Home Security to prevent uprisings that threatened any part of the country. Universities were watched carefully as breeding places for dissension and opposition to government policies.

In the past several decades the Student Coalition had become the single most watched activity in colleges and had developed a reputation of fomenting unrest, a willingness to actively pursue change through marches, letters, articles, speeches and educational programs. They would question anything that imperiled the country primarily related to global warming. Under the tutelage of Ron Barrett, law and order were never in question. Curtis, however, presented a new type of leadership, more aggressive and a willingness to take a political stand on subjects that were previously seen as fringe interests. The introduction of what appeared to be a military type camp to train students as some sort of power arm to the coalition was a new concern.

 

Stokes looked around at the group before continuing. “What we have heard and witnessed over these two days is incendiary. We heard so much anger and a potential to violence it is truly scary. We have a real problem here. There is much emotion and widespread obsessing about the need for insurrection. People who have nothing to lose fear for their future. They are desperate and desperate people can do things that would not be conceivable in a different state of mind.

“Remember, as the students do, Barrett’s words. Once we reach the 450 CO2 level with accelerating CO2 levels, it is over. If the students ever fully believed that our civilization is doomed, we would have a true revolution on our hands. They needed to have hope and John Curtis has instilled that in them. In a way, he has stalled an unruly and out of control uprising, which is beneficial. No ones knows whether this is his own desperate attempt to reduce global warming or he believes as Barrett predicted that we are now beyond hope.

“Have you read what the doomsayers are predicting for the world beyond 2100? Of course you have. It’s so beyond belief that I close my eyes to it. The climate conditions are truly terrifying. Curtis sees the potential that we could still bring down global warming by rapidly stopping the production of all carbon dioxide. He doesn’t talk much about methane but I presume he hopes that as things cool off that perhaps the permafrost will again freeze and reduce methane production.”

“Roger, please don’t play games with us,” Marion Lubawitz interrupted. “Curtis certainly knows that the weather won’t suddenly get cooler because we stop burning fossil fuels. That CO2 in the atmosphere is up there for hundreds or thousands of years. His only hope can be to try to reduce the extent of the coming catastrophe.”
“OK, Marion, of course you’re right,” Stokes retorted. “I’m trying to get into the minds of these students. If they fully believed it was impossible to influence their future, we would have a situation quite different. I could see a real uprising here and possibly worldwide. What do they have to lose? Their lives. What does that mean too many of them? Living in Hell.

“These kids mean business and their leader, though seemingly a rational man, is spurring them on. Listen, they’re scared shitless and, frankly, so am I. Even if they find a way to stop emissions in the next ten to twenty years, the conditions are already set in stone. The tremendous increase in availability and use of renewable energy used throughout the world hasn’t made a difference, just as Barrett predicted. He said it was meaningless as long as fossil fuels were still burned. Well, he was right. And so what.

“Hell, like everybody else I don’t know if there’s a chance of stopping this? No one knows, but our job is not to stop it but to keep our country safe and as livable as possible.”

“Roger, why don’t you get off your own biases and tell us what happened at the camp?” Ricardo Gomez said. “Isn’t that why we’re here. Something must have provoked concern.”
“You’re right,” Stokes replied. “We are concerned. We have very detailed information and an intimate look at exactly what took place. It goes far beyond what Curtis had recorded and we have the auditory aspect too.”

“How did you get the information?” Gomez asked.

“We used all the usual techniques plus some personal information from one of the students to his father. We contacted the owners of the land and asked if there were any objections to our surveillance. The owner had none and gave us his permission.

“You’re all familiar with what we did. We had drones high up taking high resolution pictures. We captured everything including the faces of the participants. Outside the camp, we had sensors recording all sound activity. Naturally, everything verbal and visual were recorded on a time basis so everything could be correlated.

“In addition, one of the think-tank kid’s father, a very wealthy man who had been keeping us abreast of previous meetings of the Student Coalition did the same with the camp outing. Believe me when I say that he is extremely involved in his son’s activities. Although he is against global warming and supports the Coalition’s attitude, he is concerned by the violence coming out of the group and especially the potential aggression being fostered by the camp.”

“Look, Roger,” Gomez said, “if you have found that Curtis is a danger to us then we need to get to that quickly. Exactly what danger is being planned?”

“Take it easy, Ricardo, I’ll get to it in due time. You can all draw your own conclusions when you see what took place.

“Many of you probably know George Forinsky, but do you know his son, Brett. George is a family friend and I know his family well. If all the kids in the Harvard 44 think-tank are of the same caliber of Brett that would be one formidable group. You don’t want to get in that kid’s way. He’s so assertive and volatile. If others are like him, we’re going to have trouble. He is bright and aggressive. Nothing daunts him. He’s a born leader and has an imagination that stretches far beyond my own capacity. I’ve know him for years and remember how precocious he was as a five year-old.

“Brett has no trouble berating me, even accusing me of bowing to the lobbyists. In front of his father, he attacked me for being afraid to follow my own conscience. I admitted he’s right and told him that I have a job to do which is my first priority. He just said, ‘Bullshit. If we don’t stop global warming from getting worse, you’ll need an army to keep order in this country.’ Frankly, he had no trouble making me guilty and anything I said to refute him was quickly overruled with his superior logic and mind. This kid is way beyond my personal capacity.

“Listen, you may as well know that in part I also support him and the Coalition. I have the same basic fears as they do. I believe that our failure to stop fossil fuel emissions will eventually bring down the world just like the climate people have been preaching for years. I understand the student’s preoccupations with their future. They are the ones who will suffer most. But our job is to keep law and order and no one can take the law into their own hands.

“Don’t get me wrong but I want to emphasize that part of me supports the need of doing whatever it takes to bring down CO2. I imagine that’s true of most of you.

“OK, enough generalities. Let’s get to work and see the film. There is an enormous amount of visual and auditory data. Our film crew boiled it down to the essentials for this meeting. We have 40 minutes to watch, which I have already viewed. The film team did a great job. Rather than my commenting, let’s just watch it. Anytime, anyone wants to interrupt, speak up and we’ll stop the film. When it is over, we’ll discuss it and decide what to do at this point. Any questions?”

No one spoke.

The Home Security chief sat down, blinking rapidly, his lips tightly compressed, a deep frown creasing his forehead.

 

The film started. The title frame, in black fonts on a white background, simply stated WEATHER CAMP The first off-campus meeting of the Student Coalition for Climate Control. July 13-14, 2030.

 

The screen came alive with streaming multi-color banners and the distant sound of a chorus of trumpets, piercing the countryside with a resounding military salute. A tiny dot on a wide canvas of green trees quickly zoomed into a close-up of the camp and focused

‘on John Curtis standing on a stage, his right arm pointing at a rapt audience of 44 students. Wildly cheering, the students rose as a single unit as John shouted above the student reaction, “No one and nothing will impede our accomplishing our goal of stopping global warming. Together we will win our battle.” Adulation for their leader was clearly evidenced on their faces seen in close-up.

“We will be invincible,” Curtis’s voice rang out. “We will become the strongest force on this planet. We will save our planet.”

The students went crazy screaming and pumping their fists in the air. No one could doubt that this small group of students had become a unified fighting force, zealous and aggressive.

Jason Murphy stood up and said very loudly. “Stop this film. Are you attempting to color the camp outing and influence our reaction? This is obviously a speech given much later, perhaps near its ending.” He glared at Stokes who had stopped the film.

“Listen Murphy, I wasn’t behind the editing of this film and did not have anything to do with how it was to be presented. The filmmakers were told to present the essence of that outing as briefly as possible. That’s all I know.”

“Well, for the record,” Murphy said, not to be stymied, “I feel it is starting with an attempt to brainwash us. We have to believe that Curtis is talking about the war against global warming but it sounds like the beginning of an insurrection.”

Silow Gormenstern also stood up and very quietly said. “I agree with Murphy and also resent this attempt to influence us.”

Stokes was extremely edgy and looked around at the group before responding. “All right. I have to agree with you that the opening is slanted but let’s give this film a chance. We need to know what went on in those two days.”

After a bit more grumbling, the film resumed.

 

For several minutes, the camera darted around the camp finally pausing at its center where an elevated stage, about three feet high looked down at 44 chairs placed in four rows in front of it. Surrounding the stage setting were seven or eight tall evergreens. On one side was a small barn that on investigation held sleeping bags, supplies of food and other serving supplies. Several large redwood tables and benches were behind the barn. A door opening into the back of the barn revealed the small kitchen, a number of cabinets for clothes and toilet facilities.

At first glance, it appeared to be like any other camp setting. Following the general survey, the focus was on the groups in various training exercise. Watching the initial interaction of students learning karate and judo brought mixed feelings to the committee as they watched the rapidly growing ability of the students by the end of the camp outing. Highly trained specialists had come to the camp to handle the training.

The handling of a broomstick rifle while displaying clever and rapid changing marching techniques brought smiles and a few whistles to some of the viewers. Brewster Davidson scowled as he realized how effective such training could be. Although he was tempted to interrupt the film and issue his concern about the obvious military training he realized that no laws were broken and no objection would be raised. Not much different from a high school band learning such skills.

Seven minutes into the film, Curtis was viewed surrounded by the students on an empty field. As they watched, the camera zoomed to a tall powerfully built student who suddenly raised his arms and shouted out what at first appeared to be a slogan. “Down with the villains. All opposition must cease. No one must remain who is not fully green. The world belongs to the Coalition. The Coalition will stop the destruction of the earth.”

With a thundering voice he began to chant, “Down with the villains, down with the villains, down with the villains.” Within moments the entire group joined him, their voices rising in unison, echoing off the trees and shaking the ground with its ferocity. John stood within the group but did not join the chant.

When quietness returned and all faces turned toward their leader, John Curtis now raised his hand and in a strangely quiet, hushed, even mystical voice that seemed to carry far beyond the group, said, “Your power will be heard. Your voices will shout our message across the land. The country will join us. We are the future and no other choice is possible. Together with our new power, we will put into office those people who are fully dedicated to saving our civilization. No one will slip by us who is not fully committed. We are the power of the future. We will save our planet.” A shout went up that echoed and echoed and echoed. John stood in the midst of the worshipful body, his arms extended forward, a strange enigmatic smile across his face.

The Home Security committee was deeply moved, and even shaken by this thunderous display and beginning to show concern in the evident power that this group represented. Senator Alison Wortman raised her hand and nodded to Stokes who immediately stopped the film. “Friends, most of you know that I’ve been selected to participate on this committee because of my membership on the Energy committee, the Defense committee and the Rules committee. My position on climate control is not as well known but like most of you, I am deeply worried about our future.

“Everything that has been predicted is happening and more rapidly than anticipated. No objective person can doubt that our future looks grim and despite some individual deniers to the contrary there is nothing natural about this global warming and no natural change will suddenly remove the threat. Barrett has been right all along. Only by stopping burning fossil fuels can we undo the damage and possibly eliminate the danger.

“The whole world knows of Barrett’s prediction and despite the fact that he has taken a new stance no one is deceived. Ron Barrett believes our planet is doomed to a catastrophe beyond belief. Supporting John Curtis is tied to his wife’s support of Curtis, I believe. Nevertheless, what else can be done?

“If we don’t make this last effort and try to bring down CO2, we’ll enter the second half of this century on the way to 2100 with our frightful conditions worsening, almost daily. We’ll live with the deepest regret. If we try and the condition just continues to worsen, we can only try to reduce the coming suffering. What will happen in the 22nd century is something I avoid. I can’t allow my own mind to go there.

“What does this have to do with what Curtis is up too? Everything, I believe. Everything. Maybe, he is right. That in order to actually stop the burning of fossil fuels he needs a totally committed government. If he is right, then how can we consider stopping it, even if it gets out of control? Whom do we blame? Those kids. Their fathers. The oil giants who have successfully thwarted every effort to reduce it. Remember reducing it only by increasing renewable didn’t work. Ron Barrett made that clear years ago.

“We must shut down every source of fossil fuel production. What we do with methane is a problem I can’t fathom. It seems to be uncontrollable. Maybe if we stop burning all fossil fuels, there will be a sufficient change to influence the release of methane. No one really knows. I bring all this up now since we’ve seen less than a third of the film and already it is clear what is coming. More of what we just saw but only worse. It is predictable.

“The makers of this film are trying to make certain that the Home Security committee is committed to stopping unrest, any revolutionary tactics, any undue violence or evidence of destructiveness. But what if the students feel that that using aggressive tactics may be the only way they can convince voters to defeat non-green candidates that are currently seeking election? We already know that many would never serve Congress as the Coalition wants. Curtis will know who they are and he’ll try to arouse the country to defeat all such candidates. And he may succeed.

“Can you imagine if he doesn’t and he comes close and there continues to be a struggle in congress with their lobbyists promoting the oil line. There could be hell to pay. Also remember, we have no idea of what the rest of the students in this country, not only the 3 million in the Coalition, will do. Remember that there are over 16 million undergraduate four year college students in our country. That’s not including 2 year programs and how about high schools. Just imagine half of the four year college students joining the collation or at least actively supporting Curtis.”

“Don’t count on that,” Gomez countered. “Many students don’t support him.”

“I believe you are wrong,” Senator Wortman replied, somewhat testily. “Anyway, let me go on. In our Senate committee, we believe that this first weather camp will set in motion an upheaval beyond any previous experiences. Every campus could become a battlefield if we’re not careful how we handle this. It was not by chance that I became a member of this committee. We are facing what could be the most critical time in our history since the Civil War. We must be careful what we do and say. We have tens of millions of students watching us. And they are angry and scared.”

Senator Wortman’s comments added to the grim picture facing the group. Isuma Noguchi, Assistant Secretary, Department of Education, slowly got to his feet. “The Senator’s position is not only pertinent,” he said, “but must influence how we handle the coming potential upheaval caused by Curtis. I happen to agree with the Senator and believe that we have no choice but to take what may be our final opportunity to stop the burning of fossil fuels.

“Home Security depends on educating the masses to take positions that increase security for our country. Nothing will be more important to our future than to stop global warming. If not, future security will indeed be in jeopardy. I add my words only to emphasize that we must be cautious how we handle Curtis. He will have the support of the vast majority of Americans. Our opposition, if we deem it necessary, must strictly be for security and in no way impute our disagreement with his principles, except in matters of security. There may be a fine line here. Acting impulsively can be disastrous. The people could become violent. This is not a time to hide. We must also, in some way, be supportive of Curtis.”

When Noguchi sat down, an underlying grumbling was easily detected. What will they do? Each now waited for Stokes to resume.

“Let’s continue to watch the film,” Stokes said.

Three or four separate voices rang out screaming blame against our fathers and grandfathers and to all those who had opposed the ending of fossil fuels burning and were blind to the future. “You have doomed us to a life of hell.” Their voices rose to a feverish pitch.

Other voices chimed in. “This is no longer your world. We’re taking over and we’ll heal the planet. You will be cast aside if you stand in our way. You have failed to protect the planet. We will now do it. You have tried to destroy our future. You will no longer be tolerated. We are the future and will take over this planet. Stand aside or you will be destroyed.”

 

In the background as leaders rose to speak, endless rows of students marched with broom sticks on their shoulders. “Multiply this by hundreds or thousands,” Stokes emphasized, “and you will get an idea of what lies in store for us. It is electrifying and frightening.

 

For the next ten or fifteen seconds the film was filled with beautiful nature scenes that slowly darkened until the beauty was invisible. The camera then focused briefly on each of the 44 students who rose and spoke to the group. Each student, deadly serious, spoke from the heart. One after the other. They spoke about their feelings of a disintegrating world, fear that their future had disappeared, dashed hopes and despair.

But they also raised their voices in a new hope, a belief that they could rise up and stop the impending catastrophe. They could usher in the beginning of a world, raising it from the ashes to fly again. They envisioned a new future where advances beyond anything known would spring forth. They were dedicated to pursue the goal of saving the world. Nothing would stop them. No one would stand in their way. They also spoke of the entire world banding together to establish a new kingdom on earth, where justice, truth and integrity prevailed. Their world of desperation would lead to a world of wonder and vitality.

The Home Security group became enthralled by these 44 students and saw the first gleaming of what Marion Lubawitz characterized as bliss. The group saw how formidable they would be and if multiplied by thousands a true force to reckon with.

This group of ten members reached out with their hearts to these young people inwardly knowing how slim the odds were for overcoming the coming disaster. Yet each felt hope under the influence of their eloquence. They had truth and reality on their side. How could they be opposed knowing they were right? Fighting them would be fighting the saviors of the country and planet. Each of those ten people vowed to find ways to help these desperate students.

When the last student rose and said, “We will win back the planet. The Gods of all the people will add their blessings and power for we are saving their world and their people.” An outburst of acclaim faded to a picture of John Curtis standing alone, gazing with sad eyes, over the eternal hope that had sprung from these young people. He too believed, but also he had been a devotee of Ron Barrett and could not overcome that inner doubt that had fed him for many years. But for now he turned toward the seated students and in a hushed reverential voice spoke with his soul.

 

“Friends and colleagues, we live by a credo, a set of beliefs that guide us as individuals and as a collective body. Those beliefs involve personal integrity and dedication to the group. It is honesty, trust, self-guidance, listening to the wisdom of others, offering to the world what we know. We are the healers of the earth. Each of us has the power to stand alone and together we have power beyond our numbers. We are here to save the world from the looming catastrophe. Whether we can succeed is not known. We must ask ourselves. Do we have the strength and power to make it happen? We can never have any certainty that what we are doing will work, but we must not falter. There is no other option. Our credo will guide us at all times. Our integrity, self-containment and utter commitment to our cause will give us strength. By fortifying ourselves with new ideas, new wisdom our intent will be revealed. We will accomplish our task.

“Although we will fight for our beliefs against all foes and follow our principles, we are not for violence, hate, destruction or insurrection. We will be known by our intelligence, understanding and dedication. The population will support us. Although science will continue to guide us, we no longer need confirmation that humans have caused global warming and humans must repair the damage. The world now lives in the accumulated damage to our civilization.

“Again, and this can’t be repeated enough, we need our government to fully commit to the immediate need to change how we use energy. We need the worlds’ governments to follow suit, but the United States must take the first definitive step. We will fight for our rights and the rights of our country. No obstacles can stand in our way. Our government must support us or it will be changed.

“Our task ahead is electing a fully green government in less than four months. Those who do not know of our dedication will raise doubt and proclaim that we have too little time. But I say to you that we have a world of time. No one will be elected who will not fully support stopping the burning of fossil fuels. The oil giants, lobbyists and the ineffective Congress will no longer control our destiny.

“Listen closely. I urge all of you to commit yourself to your education. We have years of struggle ahead. Even early success will not guarantee that others won’t try to change and undo what we do. You must all become highly educated in whatever field you choose. We need highly intelligent leaders. Your education is essential for your and the country’s future.

“Finally, I say with great humility and a prayer in my heart that what we do here today will ring loud and clear in the hearts of all Americans and no doubt will remain that the path to truth will now be followed. I salute you. I offer you my prayers and my hopes.”

A loud sigh of mutual relief swept through the group as the film turned to new pictures of a calm and beautiful world. Then with a startling suddenness, a young man arose out of nowhere and in a rousing, dynamic voice while pointing at what seemed to be the audience watching him clearly stated,

“Where do you stand at this point in your life? Yes, you and you and you. I also point to myself. We have heard our great leader speak and all of us have voiced our concerns and hopes, but do we truly stand for our principles and our willingness to die for our beliefs.” So it was out on the table. These young vibrant students, looking forward to a great future that was not apt to come, will not idly stand by if obstacles appeared. This was a fighting voice and all knew he represented all the students.

“I say yes, YES. Our lives will have no purpose in the world ahead unless it is changed. There is only one future and it is the return to sanity and world health. Our fated world today was caused by our forebears who closed their eyes. They created this horror and still try to perpetuate it. They have given us this legacy of disaster as we wait for our civilization to be wiped out. I, for one, show no forgiveness. How could we forgive knowing what lies ahead?

“Who are the people who doomed us? They are our fathers, mothers, grandparents and their forebears. They must convert to our view. Many may already feel that way, but have remained unfocused and afraid to act. Their passivity has become our prison. The young must dominate. It is our future. As our leader, John Curtis has said, we are the power. The world will rise with us. The world will be our ally and our brother. We are the new power and will take over the direction of this world.

“Our representatives will see our views and embrace them with the devotion that we ourselves feel. They must finally become our representatives and not of any other power. Remember, many other people are fully aware but inactive. We will provide the activity. We must not falter. There is no longer any time. My friends, we will speak with one voice.”

A rousing cheer in what sounded to be a thousand students shook the ground. The clouds above split open revealing a glowing sun. The sounds of hope and belief and the rising inner force that now gripped these young people went on and on as the film faded and the words THE END appeared.

 

A great hush spread over the ten somber viewers radically influenced by the film and the last presentation. “Who was that last speaker?” Jason Murphy wanted to know.

“That my friends,” Stoked replied, “was Brett Forinsky, the young man I told you about.”

“My God, if he’s an example of the new leaders we will face,” Janet Yang said, “we will want to be on his side of the fence.”

“Janet,” Stokes said, “he is just one of many of these incredible young leaders appearing alongside Curtis. Even if they somehow manage to elect an all green Congress, which seems so unlikely in the short time they have, we have to be aware that if Congress finally defies big oil and stops fossil fuel burning, it will probably take decades to see if it makes any difference. What the Coalition will do during that period is anybody’s guess. They and all of us will only know that the climate is worsening and we can only wait and pray. Yes, I said pray.”

“The period ahead will try man’s souls, as has been said before,” Janet Yang whispered. “My God, we must stand together.”
Lubawitz rose from her seat and very slowly just peered at her colleagues. When she spoke her voice was subdued as she recalled some past words that Barrett had sounded when reporters asked him when he thought that Congress and the people would finally act to try to stop global warming. “I remember Barrett’s words from years ago. He said that it appears that nothing will change as we march toward 450 unless Congress and the people believed we were on the verge of a catastrophe or it was evident we have passed a tipping point. Well, it appears he was again right.

“Today we have the students willing to act and we’ll know soon enough whether the people will support them and elect a totally green Congress. Can you imagine the opposition from big oil if Congress orders them to reduce fossil fuel use by say 6, 7 or even 8% a year and then perhaps ups it to 10% a year subsequently. Whether our economy could handle that is uncertain unless there is full subsidization of renewable energy development. If we could stop all fossil fuel burning in say ten years it would be a near miracle. But it’s what we need to do. Congress will realize that time is critical and there is no time to dilly dally.”

“Look Lubawitz,” Ricardo Gomez stepped in. “Don’t think that Curtis and his cronies will have it so easy to drum up the kind of support they need to elect a green Congress. Lots of people won’t trust him. Maybe he has in mind eventually getting elected to the presidency himself. I personally feel he talks out of both sides of his mouth.”

“Ricardo, what do you have against Curtis?” Marion Lubawitz asked. “He’s never done anything to appear that he’s not trustworthy.”

“You think you can trust his policies when he appears to be hiding the fact he’d like to have a revolution?”

“What do you mean hiding? It appears that he’s open to everything and I believe he can be trusted. Do you have a better alternative or maybe you’re one of those who’d rather see the end of civilization.”

Gomez grumbled and said nothing further.

“I for one,” Murphy said, “would trust Curtis far beyond trusting most of our current Congress, who say one thing and do something quite different. Another thing. There’s not another recognized leader that has taken this stand. I think most people have just plain given up. If they latch onto Curtis, he’ll have plenty of support.”

“You may be right,” Brewster Davison said, “but there better not be any trouble over his conversion attempts. He may be right but he can’t break the law.”

“Don’t worry too much about it,” Murphy said. “We’re more apt to break the law than Curtis.”

Davison scowled, staring at Murphy.

“OK. I’d like to sum up some of our observations and what we saw directly,” Stokes said. “One thing that was very clear was the great sense of calm, no wildness despite the ferocity of some oratory. The students show great devotion to John Curtis. He continually emphasized the solution was changing the government and not fighting them, though it was quite apparent that it would take little provocation to rise up against the government if unduly opposed.

“Behind the evident control you have heard the anger and outbursts by individuals. John allowed all comments to be made. No one was censored. His ability to keep order was almost magical. The sign of a great leader. Let me tell you that John Curtis is no Ron Barrett in intellect but he’s far beyond him in ability to gain traction with people, especially young ones. His sense of interaction almost has me wishing I was back in my twenties and part of his group.

“Friends, don’t count on his not accomplishing what he wants. We could see a major upheaval in this country in the next four months. Also, be aware that Curtis won’t be everywhere. There may be thousands of camps and thousand of new leaders. Who knows what they will allow and what the kids will do on their own. No one can really stop these kids who feel they have nothing to lose from doing what they must.

“Maybe they are right and global warming can be stopped. Even Ron Barrett threw his support behind what Curtis is doing and his wife Audrey is utterly supportive of his view and for awhile opposed her husband. Only recently, when Barrett threw his towel into the ring, have Ron and his wife rejoined forces. They have given amazing credibility to John Curtis. If Curtis lives up to the hype then we’d all eventually salute him. But if there is any attempt to destroy the government and country in the process of trying to stop global warming, we will have our hands full. For the sake of the country, let’s hope they succeed and without undue violence.

“Unless anyone wants to make a final comment let’s call it quits for today and wait to see what develops from all this.”
No one spoke up and the meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 25

 

 

In the two weeks following the initial weather camp thousands of camp outings started or were set in motion and an avalanche of new undergraduates joined the Student Coalition. One and a half million new members signed up in less than a month and the number was increasing daily.

The weather camp impetus began a stampede that spread across the country. School children at all levels clamored to participate. New school clubs with teacher sponsors sprang up overnight. One journalist noted the widespread enthusiasm that had “infected” the country. Within a week countless new blogs appeared; kids created placards and marched in the school yards and streets; marches were planned and many were carried out.

Enterprising leaders as young as ten sprang to the foreground. Many spoke out supporting the Student Coalition. Many admitted that they had been terrified and now felt that global warming would go away. Emails went viral. Most newspapers presented support for the young people and selected John Curtis as the unquestioned world leader in fighting global warming.

Repeatedly, it was noted how the uprising was unique and almost unheard of in its intensity and broad support. Conservative papers, critical television and online programs were relatively silent at first giving the appearance that the heightened enthusiasm was countrywide and untainted.

The Harvard 44 quickly developed the criteria for what constituted a green candidate. Simplicity was the keynote. Green candidates must have a consistent record of supporting and initiating green activities, bills, laws and educational programs. Candidates who spoke out, wrote green articles, tried to establish new green bills and fought opposition were especially commended. Those who were relatively inactive in their support or who wavered or gave support grudgingly were eliminated from consideration. Those who floated between support and non-support were ignored.

When a candidate was selected, his name went viral within hours. Newspapers adopted the Coalition’s designation of “chosen one,” in their descriptions of candidates. Becoming a “chosen one” was deemed a sign of a strong candidate who would not be swayed by any lobbyists or deniers or non-green House members. Curtis continued to emphasize that the selection for the House must be 100% green and that all Candidates supported by the Coalition for the Senate must be green. He was leaving no alternative in his fight to stop the burning of fossil fuels.

Within just a few days every candidate both national and state were recognized for their current and past stands on global warming. A list of bills they supported and sponsored were quickly spread through the land. Those destined for defeat were listed and their names appeared on placards and lawn posters alongside the selected green candidate. The placards were created by art students. Not having money to advertise on TV, new blogs were rapidly developed and disseminated. One, in particular, set up by the Harvard 44 that carried Curtis’s articles, directions, wishes and acknowledgments, developed a massive following and soon was viewed daily by millions of visitors.

A rally cry swept the country and parents and other adults took up the chant, “we must become green. We will be green.” Bands, musicians, YouTube films, articles and lectures actively supported green candidates. The enthusiasm spread to the very young and the very old. The fears and beliefs that the world was doomed to ever increasing instability and eventual demise were buried in the new hope.

Newspapers throughout the country acknowledged the awakening and welcomed and praised the Student Coalition for giving people hope. For a time, the science and belief that 450 was a critical juncture for turning back CO2 was ignored and that the world was suddenly anticipating a most unlikely scenario. Would the US government have the power and courage to initiate a near wartime effort to stop the burning of fossil fuels?

Worldwide, people and governments took careful note of the new power base that wanted to assume control of the US government, as they perceived it. Despite their awareness that America had avoided genuine leadership in combating global warming in the past, many countries, including China and India, wondered, if finally, America was going to take the lead in reducing global warming. In those same countries others claimed it was now too late. When America could have helped, it wasn’t there. They claimed that the world must now wait until nature brings the temperature down to normal, as it will, they stated, taking the position of the deniers and anti-green movement.

Attempts to coordinate and develop think-tank type groups similar to the Harvard 44 among high school and grade school children were sponsored by teachers and parents. They sought advice from Curtis who advised all to develop independently and to inform the Harvard 44 of their names, suggestions and activities. Teachers praised the Student Coalition for giving their students a truly meaningful reason to study and reach toward higher education. The interrelation of students at all levels of development was unparalleled.

By default the Harvard 44 now stood essentially alone in their leadership role. By having the guidance of John Curtis, the Harvard 44 blog became the official outlet for the latest news and for Curtis’ current thoughts and directions. The country and the world quickly became attuned to having a central power base for the Coalition.

For the first month the activities were primarily held on the college campuses and in the weekend camp outings. Videos, photos and brief comments in the hundreds of thousands soon dotted Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mind Opening, The Word, and other social media.

It came to the ears of the Home Security that some students were being intimidated for not joining the Coalition. Rather than go on campus and arouse the anger of the students one of the Home Security team contacted Curtis who agreed that should not happen and he would stop it. Curtis immediately sent out a memo that no student was to be criticized or attacked or intimidated because of being anti-green or not taking any stand at all. Any student found guilty of such behavior would immediately be dismissed from the Student Coalition. The students should use education and verbal attempts to convince the non-green students to convert and join forces with them. Green must come to a student by conviction that taking a firm stand against global warming was right.

Many neutral and even anti-green students converted to the green side and some became active and strong leaders in the green movement. Meanwhile, occurrences on campus were becoming more raucous and volatile and incidents of aggression and violence appeared sporadically. Broomsticks gave way to rifles carved out of wood. Some students carved attack weapons in wood. They engaged in greater use of martial arts, becoming increasingly militarized on certain campuses. University personnel watched with growing alarm as the outbursts picked up steam.

John Curtis sent out a series of memos urging control and moderation and suggested that each chapter of the Student Coalition set up a watchdog committee to keep alert to campus activities and especially to make certain nothing inappropriate happened off-campus. Tying violence to the green activity and support of green candidates would work against their objective to elect all green candidates.

The situation began to get ugly by August as more aggressive students turned vicious against certain anti-green students especially if they openly opposed their fight against global warming. The green students felt their world and lives were at stake and were not easily thwarted in their attacks against any opposition.

Off-campus activities became widespread and were generally peaceful and even wholesome. Coalition students sang and danced and heralded the coming green revolution. Hope was in the air. They were peaceful unless they were opposed and then they could quickly turn violent. After a few more coordinated attacks by anti-green groups, many Coalition members openly sought retaliation. Injuries on both sides were reported. Authorities became concerned and reprimanded the involved students, but otherwise did not yet actively intervene.

The students began to carry slingshots, knives and clubs. Although opposed by the Coalition, violence intensified. Some thought that the increase in violence was deliberately fomented by outsiders appearing as students.

 

By now, the other candidates were mounting intense campaigns to fight the green candidates by wide use of TV, support from conservative and anti-green groups, conservative newspapers and by those who believed in a so-called neutral position. Some people still believed that global warming was part of a natural cycle and the world needed to allow the climate to seek its own level. Others believed that following the beliefs of the green supporters would lead to widespread job losses and personal deprivation.

Some representatives seeking reelection and known for the lack of previous support suddenly claimed to have became the true green candidate and claimed that they had the experience in Congress and would better serve stopping fossil fuel burning. Such claims attempted to sow confusion among voters but were quickly pointed out by the Coalition committees.

But the biggest campaigners against the Coalition were the oil and gas companies’ lobbyists. They emphasized the economic benefits for continuing to use oil and gas and how disruptive it would be to change from an oil and gas infrastructure to one supported only by renewable energy.

The anti-green people put up many TV ads, advertising, phones texting and created many blogs disguised as educational and newsworthy. Climate change deniers still in existence continued to peddle the same lies as they did 20 or more years ago. Although few people were deceived, many also began to believe that the green side would destroy their economy, take away jobs and cripple the economy. They would lose out to other countries who, though using renewable energy, had continued using fossil fuels. The emphasis on the negative impact on the economy, jobs and the social changes created a powerful anti-green message.

The deniers offered increasing evidence that the worst of the warming cycle was behind us and the end of the warming cycle was approaching. They created evidence that the weather would quickly revert to normal and scoffed at the frightening prognostications that recovery would take centuries or more.

Curtis and others wrote many papers indicating that there was no scientific evidence that global warming would soon end. An outpouring of green articles seemed to counter the most egregious lies of the deniers. Students copied and rewrote green articles and sent them on renewed circles of the globe. Nothing would change what had already happened. Even if the CO2 level came to a screeching halt, the accumulation of heat in the oceans and land and the greenhouse gases would last for thousands of years. Such heat would also increase the further breakdown of permafrost with its greater increase in methane production. Sea level would continue to rise for many years. The need to prevent a greater future world disaster depended on stopping the production of CO2. Students became obsessed with making the world aware.

A consortium of fear-driven students emphasized that the scientific consensus pointed to a level of over 850 ppm CO2 by the century’s end with a sea level rise of three to four more feet and weather changes beyond comprehension. They begged and pleaded that the world must awaken now. Their entire life was at stake. A few students ventured into descriptions of the 22nd century. Every horror imaginable was noted.

By emphasizing how global warming could have been contained long ago, students began to spread the idea of setting this country on a wartime basis to stop fossil fuels burning. No longer content with reducing the use of fossil fuels over a 10 to 15 year period, the clamor for doing it in three to five years was trumpeted.

Students used blogs freely, often setting up multiple new ones hourly. They used most social media venues by inundating them with green slogans, photos, videos, and poems. Ron and Audrey and many other well-known leaders wrote articles supporting various green candidates.

Although most support for the camps and the Coalition came inside the US, world recognition of the wisdom behind the movement mounted. Adult camps set up as ancillary groups became tied to the Coalition. The movement grew rapidly. Green candidates exulted and many joined forces in mutual support. Two months from the election the lines were tautly drawn and the struggle for gaining the ascendancy and truly setting up a 100 % green Congress intensified. The student movement had coalesced into a powerful cohesive army over ten million strong. Their power shook Washington and the idea of establishing a wartime government program was heralded as increasingly feasible. The oil giants became deeply concerned that such could happen. The backlash was about to begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 26

 

 

Waiting at a quiet table in the rear of the restaurant, Curtis immediately rose when Audrey entered and walked quickly toward her. Hugging her tightly, he whispered how much he missed seeing her. “It’s been a trying period for me. I’ve missed you immensely despite our frequent telephone talks. It’s been a long time.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Audrey replied softly. “What a strange and wonderful period. So much has happened; it almost seems like the world has changed. You have accomplished miracles, bringing together such an amazing group of students and developing such devotion and love. I think they all believe you are going to pull off some sort of miracle and cause global warming to go away. No matter what is real, they believe their lives are going to be better.

“Ron and I have discussed this so much, I’m almost worn out. I, too, want to believe that it will take place as you surmise and that it will really make a difference. I know the science and realize that even if you managed to stop all fossil fuel burning in the entire world in the next five years and we haven’t crossed a tipping point that it will be thousands of years to undo what we have already done. But I want to throw away that knowledge and say it must come down and our future will be different. I want it so desperately, I’m almost sick from worry.”
Curtis just held her, caressing her hair and lightly kissing her. “I know. I know. But we must never give up hope that by some miracle things may change more rapidly and the future may be livable.”

Audrey broke into tears. “Why did this have to happen? Why? Why? How did we let it? And we’re still doing it. Where do all these stupid, stupid people come from?”

“We need to let it go,” Curtis said, “We must fight this war as though the solution is at hand. We’ve got to believe what we are doing will make a difference.”

“Do you truly believe it can happen? Please be honest with me.”

John grimaced. “Sometimes I feel like a fraud both believing and doubting. I also know from the latest computer simulations that if we were to stop fossil fuel burning today worldwide, the CO2 would still rise at least another 100 points due to heat absorption in the Arctic now that all the summer ice is gone and the continuing breakdown of permafrost and similar heat related activities. And the simulations vary enormously as they try to ascertain the effects of methane. And there’s no way the entire world would suddenly stop using fossil fuels.

“But if we don’t stop it then the worse case disaster will happen. Frankly, I pray that I’m right and stopping fossil fuel burning will do the trick, but when I look deeply into myself I know that I still carry doubts. But what else can we do?”

“I know,” Audrey replied. “Let’s sit down and eat. Maybe we’ll both feel better. Let’s change the subject. I want to hear everything that you’ve been doing. Are you in California for some meetings with the Coalition?”

“Yes. I’m meeting students from Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, Santa Monica Community College, Long Beach State and a couple of high schools. I haven’t finalized all meetings yet but I’m in communication.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“In addition, I’m planning to meet with the Governor and some members of the state legislature. California has such a large number of House members that having bona fide support from the Governor and state legislators provides a powerful message to the country. Right after leaving California, I intend to go for meetings with the governors of a half dozen other states. The entire country must rise up. The message that the US will give to the world is that every single member of Congress is green to the core. It will be the beginning of a major change in our country.”

“Do you get much feedback from any government outside the country?”
“No, not yet, although I get feedback from International Coalition students that’s encouraging. I presume the world is watching and waiting. For so many years, other countries have criticized and even attacked us for not taking greater responsibility to curb CO2. We’ve never overcome the skepticism and disbelief we created by being only one of two countries out of nearly 200 that did not sign and support the Kyoto agreement back in the 1990’s.”

“That was always a major disappointment for Ron,” Audrey said. “Each time the US avoided responsibility he’d write a scathing article that never influenced the government to change their mind at subsequent international climate meetings.”

“I’ve read those earlier articles and also his later ones on the dereliction of this country,” John said. “The US always drummed up reasons to avoid taking any truly meaningful role in bringing down CO2. We always pleaded impact on jobs, economy, or that China or India or some other third world country won’t do it or used some other ridiculous reason. Every opportunity to start a true renaissance of renewable energy that could have made a real difference was thwarted.

“I still think that most countries don’t believe it will happen. In recent polls over half of our own country doubts that it will happen either, even though polls indicate that over 60 % of the population will vote for green candidates. Trouble is, as you know, that many candidates who only recently became true believers in our philosophy are now claiming they are also green and of course want to end global warming. Many skirt around the subject of fully ending the burning of fossil fuels but are often clever in how they try to get across they are powerful supporters of the Student Coalition and even count me as a personal friend.”
“What do you do about that?”

“Nothing. I avoid getting into any discussion with them or replying to any of their comments even when directed to me specifically. The only way we’re going to win is to educate the remaining citizens who still don’t fully get it and have believed that natural forces may end the problem or who believe that we only have to double the output of renewable energy and that will take care of the problem.”

“How do you intend to fight the vast television and Internet campaign just starting that I gather will pick up speed in the final month before the election?” Audrey asked.

“A number of very wealthy supporters of our ideas have formed a group and are now planning a powerful counter campaign to fight whatever allegations the opposition makes.”

“Ron tells me,” Audrey said, “that he has learned that the ads and declarations will be out and out lies cleverly covered by misinformation, misquoting, lying about quotes, bringing up personality problems of leaders and that includes both of us. Ron and hundreds of other leaders are also on the hit list. Some of the students have become so well known, they’re like celebrities, and they will also be designated as targets.

“John, you need to know that they will find people who claim to know you and lie about what you have done, about drug use, abuse to women and even how you interact with students. I wouldn’t be surprised if you and I are targeted as a couple in an illicit affair.”

Curtis chuckled, “Well, if they are going to point us out then maybe we should really have that illicit affair and not just meet for wonderful lunches and occasional dinners and a few kisses.”
“What a tempting idea,” Audrey responded softly with a laugh. “What will happen to us after the election?”
“We’re getting close to that crucial day. If we win, maybe that would be a great way for us to celebrate with a secret rendezvous in a hidden cabin somewhere on the northern coast.”

Audrey smiled and nestled closer to John. “Well, that’s really an incentive to win. John, dear, I do have one other thing to tell you that Ron mentioned. He said that he had heard that several prominent green leaders have been targeted for injury, perhaps to reduce their effectiveness in the campaign. He believes that you were on that list.”
John thought a few moments before responding. “Where would Ron get such information?”
“You have to understand that Ron has many unusual followers and supporters and gets all sorts of information that others probably would not. I believe he was told because he too is on that list, as I am. He feels that you would be the top leader that they would try to bottle up. Just be extra careful when alone and driving at night. Keep an eye open for someone who seems suspiciously watching you. That kind of thing.”
“Thank Ron for the alert. I’ll certainly be extra careful. Do you think that the people opposing a green Congress would resort to such antics?”
“Unfortunately, I do. I remember periods in the past when Ron was threatened. It even happened to other leaders, as you know. It’s hard to imagine that we fit into the rank of dangerous leaders when our objective is to give this country a chance to finally stop global warming.”

John reflected on what Audrey had said. “I’ve also been hearing of trouble brewing on various campuses. Nothing really violent but it may be a harbinger of what’s to come.”
“What are you referring to?”
“Young people who appear to be students are clashing with Coalition members, seemingly at random.”

“In what way?”

“For example, a Coalition member can be strolling or jogging and suddenly gets attacked, beaten up, and left. No one has been seriously injured yet, but these kind of things are increasing. Also, on several campuses, several young people suddenly burst into a Coalition meeting and cause a rumpus, hit a few people and just as suddenly leave. None have been apprehended. It appears to be worsening and more violent.

“Local police have been alerted in those towns where it happens. On two occasions, it happened on campuses that I had just visited the day before. Perhaps a coincidence, possibly not. Home Security has contacted me suggesting that someone may be masterminding all this. They are watching two separate gangs who could be involved.”

Audrey, deeply concerned, bit down on her lip. “That is very troubling to hear. What are you going to do?”

“All the Coalition groups throughout the country have been alerted to these events. All were cautioned not to make too much out of it yet, but to be watchful and report anything unusual to the University and local police. I’m also to be notified of such events.”
“What will the students do?”
“I’m not clear, but all are on edge and ready to fight anyone who stands in their way. Sometimes, I think my main job now is keeping them under control. Up to now, they have not encountered sneak attacks by hoodlums or hired hoods, if that’s what these people are. But I assure you that no Coalition member is a passive or fearful person. They’re ready to stand up to attacks from any quarter and from anyone.

“Home Security is now working on the theory that some sort of conspiracy is behind it, but because it’s only sporadic with little power behind it, they‘re taking a wait and see attitude. Something like this is nothing new to them.”

“This could fit in with what Ron has been hearing, so be very careful.”

“I will. Nothing is going to derail our campaign. The students are in training to fight, if necessary. Every weekend we now have between 5 to 10,000 camp outings and it is amazing how well coordinated it all is. The Harvard 44 has amazing records of everything going on and with the use of the University super computers they crunch out data in seconds and pass it out to the Coalition members.

“Several parents have expanded their help and have provided great additional facilities, secretaries and office space. Everyone knows everything. In a week or so, there will be the beginning of extensive marches, local , statewide and national. Many of the green candidates will participate with them.”

“That’s wonderful,” Audrey exclaimed.

“The country is going to be united into a single force even before the election. In an amazing show of camaraderie, a number of candidates will appear together at town hall meetings and support each other. What is so unusual is that often some of the House candidates will meet with several of the Senate representatives showing that Congress will be unified.

“There is a very emotional blending of ideas from these different people. I’ve seen tears appear in some of the candidates as they share the urgency and the absolute need to protect this country. All come from a similar place. All are willing to discuss their fears, doubts, hopes, and the need for immediate action. I’ve attended a number of their meetings and it makes me think of the town hall meetings that must have occurred prior to the American Revolution and stirred the population to rise up against oppression.”

“What’s happening with the campaign to elect the President?”

“It’s not as clear a picture.”

“Why not?”
“Presidential candidates are notorious for saying one thing in their campaign and doing something quite different once in office. However, the green candidates are working together to make it clear that they expect that the President will support them wholeheartedly but in the unlikely event that is not to be, they will act, under the US Constitution, to declare a wartime emergency and enact changes based on their belief of a major danger to our country.”

“My God, that is news to me,” Audrey declared.

“Keep it under your hat, although I guess you can tell Ron but advise him to keep it quiet for now. We believe that the presidential candidate that we will support full time will understand our concern and determination and make a major pre-election speech and declare that his first act in office will be to declare such an emergency and begin the shutdown of fossil fuel burning. A committee is working to determine how rapidly it can be done.

“Some feel it must be done slowly to avoid a major disruption of the economy but others believe it can be accomplished in as little as five years. I believe it can be done even faster. Everything is in place to replace that energy with renewables. There would be no job dislocation. Many workers would shift over to a different form of energy and would get whatever training needed. It can be done and it will.

“How exciting,” Audrey said. “This must help the students strongly believe in what they are doing.”

“Yes, it does.”

“So have you come close to selecting the man you are going to support for president?”
“Most likely it will be the incumbent, since he has always supported the idea of fighting global warming, despite not having the gumption or power to just do it. He knew that Congress would never agree. The other two active candidates are pursuing the Harvard 44 who have assumed an amazing power in the eyes of the media. And of course they’re after me all the time.”
“How do you handle that?”
“I have spoken to both several times and have not yet told them whom we will support. This actually gives us far more power since all the candidates are preaching the need of a massive change in energy use and how the use of fossil fuels must be ended. We know that a lot of this is hype but the public is hearing of the changes from all sides and we hope will support all our candidates at the polls.

“We’re not underestimating the counter attacks by the opposition and especially big oil. Countless lobbyists will be out of a job and that becomes a fighting challenge to them. And they have no conscience about its impact on the planet. They are mainly concerned with their pocketbooks.”

“They can’t be underestimated,” Audrey concurred. “Ron and I have had a number of skirmishes in the past and they’re experts on deception and misinformation. And money is never a barrier to them. Also, it seems to me that once big oil realizes their game is over they’ll switch to renewables. After all, they do own many of the companies that produce the equipment and own much of the land where the windmills are being placed. They saw the hand writing on the wall years ago. They will wring all sorts of concessions from Congress as they wind down. Changing the infrastructure, however, will be a far more difficult task. Then there’s the matter of the rest of the world following suit?”

“Without the world changing, what we do will essentially have little impact. We intend to make that clear even before the election. There are millions of international Coalition members who will pick up the gauntlet at the right time, we believe. Also, many governments are watching us closely and are definitely sympathetic to our plan. Right after our election, if it is 100% successful, and the President makes good on starting the end of fossil fuels in our country, I intend to direct my energy to the international scene.”

“John, I know that Ron will help you fully in your efforts. He may harbor doubts about the result, but he knows that you have started something that had eluded him for years. He wants you to succeed. He now understands that you are not for a revolution through fighting but through the election process. He doesn’t discount the outside possibility that if your efforts don’t bear fruit the students will be in a fighting mood and it is unclear what might happen.”

“We fully expect that our idea of electing a 100% Congress will occur,” John said strongly.

“One final element is that as soon as the incumbent makes a major speech on global warming and declares his intent to issue a wartime declaration that fossil fuel burning must cease for the security and welfare of this country, he’ll be our candidate. He would have to state explicitly that will be his first action upon reelection. We intend at that time to have a major march in Washington supporting him and the expected new Congress.”

“When do you think that will take place?”

“Probably about two or three weeks before the election. The President will pick his own time. In the meantime, we hope to arouse the country to the idea and become committed to the green side.”

“It will be a miracle if every single candidate you support is elected.”
“They are all excellent people and will help set in motion all the many changes that go with changing the oil infrastructure.”
“John, so much is happening so quickly. My mind is spinning.”

“There just isn’t any time left. It’s now or never, in my thinking.”

Audrey stared at John wondering where all this would go. Could such an election be a certainty with less than eight weeks left to campaign? Would the incumbent president really make such a radical declaration just before the election?

“What’s ahead for today?” Audrey asked.

“I have a meeting with the president of Stanford and then a late meeting with the Student Coalition at Berkeley. When all this is over, I hope that you and I could take some time off and go on a brief holiday with each other. Is that a possibility?” John asked hesitantly.

“It is certainly a possibility, but we shouldn’t be making any plans now. I so admire all you are doing and your total commitment despite what I realize are still some lingering doubts about the end result. Until we do it, uncertainties will linger and then it will take decades to determine if it stops before passing 550 or 600. Ron has clearly demonstrated to me that would be a feasible goal if all fossil fuel burning ended in the next few years. He said that includes the fossil fuels in the entire world.”

John sat unspeaking and letting Audrey’s words sink in. “I know about those predictions which I’ve read about a number of times but also on what people will think when nothing happens despite stopping fossil fuels. It will take a major educational effort to make people aware that our weather will initially worsen and there will be more intense suffering but we’ll save the future from even worse conditions.

“Also thinking about being alone with you is exciting to me. I love you. You are so special to me and you’ve been an inspiration for years.”

“I love you too,” Audrey responded warmly. “Our love is very special and no matter what our future brings it will always be there.”

“I know,” John said wistfully. “I guess it’s time to go. What are you going to do now?”

“I’ve been thinking about a new poem and our talk has encouraged me to now go home and write it.”
“I’ll wait for it,” John said.

Slowly they rose and walked outside to Audrey’s car. They hugged, and finally kissed, lovingly and warmly, but by common understanding, it stopped at becoming fully sexual. Each felt sadness on parting. So much lay ahead. So much hope. Such high expectations and such remaining doubts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 27

 

 

That afternoon before returning home Audrey drove to a nearby forest on Stanford land where she and Ron had frequently hiked. Except for a small sign with parking directions, the trail was unmarked. The trailhead was known to hikers by two medium sized twin evergreen trees that greeted hikers. Audrey knew these trees well for they reminded her of two lovers standing quietly together, reposed and peaceful. Upper branches intertwined and swayed together when the wind blew. Audrey looked up and smiled, then began her walk.

That afternoon the wind was still and the peacefulness more complete, almost casting a spell on Audrey as she briefly touched each tree. Summer had passed and the beginning of fall was just ahead. Colorful leaves from spruce and oak trees were scattered throughout the park, falling much earlier than years gone by. The park was alone in its sedate splendor. Kids of all ages were back in school. The park was hers. Stirred by the beauty and solemnity Audrey walked as a spirit free from earthy restraints, her mind flooded by visions, memories and feelings.

Still moved by the luncheon with John, she pondered where their love would go. She thought how their relationship seemed meant to be, but some unspoken voice seemed to declare that their passion was otherworldly. Although there has been allusions to sex neither had pressed for lovemaking. No explanations. No conscious denial. No fear. It just never happened.

Today, as she walked, she watched the visions and memories float through her mind’s eye. Ron’s depression rose before her as the miasma from a disappearing swamp.

She saw her gloom lift as he recovered his zeal and saw him writing at his desk continuing his needed articles and lectures. She watched him float through space reaching out and assisting others in the endless fight to overcome global warming. His change was rapid and the memory of their resuming lovemaking returned and brought a smile to her face. A renewal of their deep closeness accompanied their lovemaking.

She reflected on the ease that she could accept the deep feeling of love she felt for these two men. So different and so fulfilling in distinctive ways and yet tied to her deep concern for fighting for the health of the planet.

She wondered what Ron really believed and felt about her closeness to John. Though aware of their nearness, Ron never brought up anything about her personal friendship. Instead, he freely communicated with both his wife and Curtis about matters pertaining to the fight against global warming. As she continued to stroll under the trees she wondered if he was covering his true feelings that ending the burning of fossil fuels would not change the frightening course of global warming. Each time he warned the country and world that reaching 450 with accelerating CO2 levels was a true point of no return, she had sensed his deep fear and despair. Had he turned away from his own prognostications with a reassessment of climate conditions, or was he supporting John and her because of a belief that it was a last ditch stand and it might work. He had been fully aware that putting his power behind John would add that needed measure of national support that might be the difference of John realizing his goal or not.

If so, she inwardly admired her husband for compromising his personal beliefs that the Student Coalition should remain a non-fighting force. Ron had applauded the possibility that Curtis was right in developing a fighting force to add weight to his argument. Recently, he began to believe that the election of a 100% green Congress and President was increasingly likely. Without hesitation, he gave Curtis credit for its happening but realized the many obstacles ahead. But the country was stirring.

Ron’s articles fully supported the idea of such a Congress and President. Despite his personal doubts, he no longer voiced his belief that it was too late to stop the impending cataclysm. He put his full power behind Curtis.

 

As she walked, Audrey imagined she was floating and became anxious as disturbing visions of the near future seared her consciousness. Man fighting man. Bodies crumbled to the ground broken in spirit, the desire to live gone. Explosive outbreaks of violence, flames leaping beyond the clouds, land breaking off and disappearing, tiny babies alone, abandoned, screaming in terror that was never relieved. Such visions had come before and each time she denied that they were her beliefs. But an inner voice intoned that they were her truth.

What if Congress came close, but failed to reach that magical number? Would the students aroused by their fears and overwhelmed by a renewal of futility turn against their government? Under John’s tutelage they had become a monstrous fighting force. Who would stop them? Who could stop them? Desperate men, fighting for their lives. The country might join them. Would they accept the probability that even if they missed their goal of 100%, that a Congress with some non-green members could still exact a wartime effort to stop fossil fuel burning?

As Audrey walked, she touched trees, watched occasional squirrels and rabbits scurry across her path and noticed birds sitting on tree branches and like her just enjoying the afternoon. No other person was on the trail. She thought of the strength of John’s idea of a 100% Congress, which now took on a more essential meaning to her. Whereas before the idea seemed farfetched, it now appeared feasible. It would be a national mandate. The vision of change swept before her eyes.

She was aware that the opposition had not yet brought out their powerful guns and their major television and Internet ads were yet to appear, but their appearance was imminent. John, the Coalition and their many supporters were preparing a powerful counterattack. A decision reached among the many leaders made it clear that they would not go on the defensive but attack and give back more than what was received.

A compelling belief in accomplishing this miracle fed the movement. She felt a undeniable need to add her support. Audrey continued walking as though in a dream. A new hope was being born. God had awakened to the need of his children on earth. His own creation would not be forsaken or lost. He had heeded the cries and laments and despair and fears and knew them for real.

God realized that man had erred, but he could not ignore their plea or all would be lost. The earth must prevail. America, the final hope, must be granted the passage back to sanity and bring back health to his Earth. An angel floated by and Audrey knew it was she. I am God’s messenger and will make his will known.

An intense love for God filled her and in her entire being she felt a resurgence of power and hope unknown to her before. As she came near the end of the trail, a tiny bluebird flew to a low branch on a regal oak tree just in front of her and watched her walk. Audrey lifted her eyes to the tiny bird and blessed it from deep within her heart. She had heard from God.

As she walked back to her car, her new poem was born. Later, when she was back home she went to her computer and wrote it. She left no doubt the election of the green candidates offered what might be the final opportunity to bring global warming to an eventual halt. She fully believed the destiny of the world was at stake. Her poem would make clear there was no other choice but to start the process to end the accumulation of greenhouse gases. We need a miracle, she murmured silently. God will help us.

 

THERE IS NO MORE TIME

 

How many times have I spoken to you of the dwindling of time,

and how hope was fading and would soon be lost?

How many times have I spoken of suffering, suffocating heat, where sweat fills the air and blinds our eyes?

How many times have I looked at the planet dying and felt there was doom ahead?

How many times have I pleaded for change?

How many times?

 

Yesterday, those in power to serve the people closed their eyes,

Now we exist in a state of desperation that came from the unfathomable dereliction of those we had once elected to serve.

We must open our eyes wide to see all and look at the evidence strewn far and wide. They gave us crushing heat, storms, pollution and the pain of an impending death.

Science, knowledge and education were ignored. Blindness prevailed.

One real look is all that we need and know in our heart that we see the truth.

Those who have governed, watched as the world withered inexorably away.

No more, I tell you. No more do we accept such reckless disregard of our future.

These who will control our destiny will now govern for the people.

Never again will we elect those whose eyes are closed to the changes needed.

Today is the time to close the loop that lets gases erode our future life,

Today is the time to finally say NO to yesterday’s forces that have controlled our destiny.

Now is the time to stand up and declare that today we will take over the care of our planet,

There is no time to wait or delay, not now or evermore,

Today we grasp the final opportunity that will save the future for our children and their children and all the children ahead.

 

A group of brave men and women will take their stand committed to change our reeling world.

My friends, they must be supported with our love and hope and money and self.

Our world is at stake, no more and no less, the life of the planet is the prize they seek,

To give back our future so heartlessly removed.

Are we asking for too much?

 

They will give us back our heritage and legacy that is almost lost.

They will give certainty to a time steeped in doubt.

We must give ourselves this chance to determine our future that seems so dark.

Behind them will be a force of countless millions of the young and the old,

The soul of our land will give them strength and will and guidance.

 

The life of the country is at stake,

They will change a world spiraling out of control that belongs to all of us,

We, who have hoped in vain in years gone by to stir those in power,

Now, we, the people, will elect into power

Those who will start the undoing of the disaster ahead.

 

I am pleading, begging on my knees before you,

Every single person who controls the power of the vote must select those who are truly green.

There are no questions about the commitment of the men and women designated by the Student Coalition.

They will give what we need to fight what is ahead.

Unless we change and change we must, we will repeat the past and aid in the final destruction of the earth.

They must have our vote, let there be no deterrence.

No misinformation, lying, denial of the truth must stand in our way.

These men and women must have our vote.

They will fight for and accomplish what has never been done.

They must have our vote.

 

Please give it to them.

We are voting for our lives.

 

The poem was published in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times and then syndicated in over 400 newspapers. Audrey’s passion and fear crept into the hearts of countless voters. Her fervent plea to finally remove all uncertainty from the election of green candidates and elect the candidates whose record of fighting global warming was clearly defined led to an immediate clamor for the latest names. Confusion about candidates must be overcome. Certainty was demanded.

Although individual candidates had been openly supported by the Coalition, the Harvard 44 in collaboration with John, Ron and Audrey brought the names of their chosen candidates up to date.

The list was published on the Harvard 44 blog with the addendum that it would be updated weekly until one week before election day and then updated daily as needed. The naming of the chosen candidates left no doubt that the election of the right choices would give certainty to the action to end the burning of fossil fuels. The list was picked up by almost every newspaper in the country and became a badge of acknowledgement that was heralded by the candidates. The boost of voter approval and active support for the selected candidates was noted in a number of polls.

Audrey’s recording of her poem uploaded on YouTube was heard by millions and was credited with shifting the voter preference on a number of candidates. With the election only seven weeks way, the expected intense struggle for control of Congress was about to intensify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 28

 

 

What appeared to be a series of spontaneous outbreaks of violence on different campuses and in some small college towns occurred where the students engaged in rallies, marches and speeches. A small group of Coalition students practicing martial arts stunts were suddenly pounced on by a handful of what appeared to be other students, suffered a few bruises and before they could retaliate the attackers disappeared.

A group of women Coalition marchers venturing to a nearby town were jostled and shoved by some rowdy men, who yelled at and reviled them. Another small group of Coalition students speaking at a Town Hall meeting were interrupted by catcalls and noise as well as frightening the audience.

News of other disruptions both on and off campus quickly spread to all the Coalition groups who now began to prepare for a worsening pre-election environment. John sent emails to the Coalition advising them to keep calm but to be prepared to fight back if things worsened. Within three or four days ten to twenty disruptions were reported. No one was apprehended and no one was seriously hurt. The Coalition students, many already armed with knives, brass knuckles and hard wooden carved rifles intended for marching, prepared for skirmishes. In spite of continuing encounters little happened to deter or impede the support of green candidates nationwide.

 

In a small town in Indiana the confrontations suddenly took a new turn. During a march by the Student Coalition of Indiana University supporting a local congressional candidate, forty students were viciously attacked by a small group of four older men wielding clubs, heavy boots and metal encrusted gloves. In a few moments, one of the marchers was downed and kicked violently turning the other marchers into a frenzied and angry fighting force. Using weapons, they turned against the attackers with a vengeance.

In the resulting struggle, one of the attackers was severely injured, knocked unconscious and two others were downed and held. The forth escaped. Immediately several students called 911 and alerted the police who came and while detaining the attackers, spoke to a number of spectators who had witnessed the initial attach and the defense by the students. A number of onlookers offered their video pictures of the fight. The police carefully scrutinized the fighting especially the severe injury of the attacker who was knocked unconscious. It was apparent that he was wielding a long knife with the intent to injure or kill and the four or five students who over whelmed him with clubs were acting in self defense. No arrests were made. The injured attackers and the injured student were taken to the nearby hospital, and under close surveillance were carefully questioned by detectives.

The severely injured attacker died that evening. The dead man turned out to be a homeless person with no permanent address hired as part of the attacking force. Fingerprints identified him as a former petty criminal, frequently imprisoned for robbery, fighting and one time for injuring a woman who resisted, when he attempted to snatch her purse.

The other two men, individually questioned readily gave information realizing that the authorities would go easy on them for cooperation. Like the man killed both were petty criminals with long police records and hired for the simple job of interrupting a parade of students. “Just go and mess them up a bit,” they were told. “We want them to know that we don’t like their parades. Your job is to make them realize that such marches have to stop.” All the men were given the same instructions. Each man was paid $500.00 for ten minutes of roughing up a few kids, which had seemed like a good deal, one man said.

Each man described a different person who had approached them. The only distinguishable features on the four contact men were the dense black mustaches, long black hair and dark sunglasses that each person wore. Each was given an address where the four men were to meet that was within a ten minute walk from the site of the parade. Each man was paid half the payment upfront. They would perform their job, leave, return to where they had started and get the remainder of their money. A truck would pick them up and take them back to where they usually hung out. The whole thing would take less than a hour of time. Neither man knew the purpose of the parade, or who hired them, although one had read some of the placards and knew it was about Congress and a man running for office.

 

A number of videos by onlookers quickly appeared on the Internet and were seen by the entire country within hours. Despite a lack of specific information about the men, obviously in disguise, not knowing who they were and for whom they were working, news rapidly spread that they were hoodlums working for the oil companies. A tremendous outcry against the oil companies laced by cries of evil, despoilers of civilization, enemies of the people and the need to demolish them flooded the Internet. The oil giants became associated with a widespread belief that they were out to destroy the country.

Tying the oil companies to the recent violence out of their fear of losing control over the country’s energy supply became another reason to elect green candidates. The cry rose that the oil companies must never again control this country. Electing an all green Congress and a green President who would promise to sign an executive order within days of his inauguration to start the end of the rule of fossil fuels was the solution. The order would initiate a true wartime effort to fully end the use of fossil fuels in the United States. The fossil fuel spigot would finally be turned off.

The forces growing to support the green candidates now included vast numbers of wealthy business people who were growing increasingly vocal. Increasing demands were made on the candidates to make their positions on various components of the global warming clear. Any doubts about a candidate’s appropriate “green” attitude about pesticides, agricultural needs, population controls, ocean acidification and the rapidity of fossil fuel reduction would be cause for elimination from student support. The Student Coalition would also immediately purge any who would not unhesitatingly support the wartime effort to end the use of fossil fuels. No loopholes were tolerated.

To diminish the impact of adults viewing student aggression as excessive or arbitrary, Curtis sent out multiple messages clearly stating that students were not to use aggression or violence without justifiable cause. “You need to protect yourself if attacked, but care should be exercised to avoid hurting anyone. Don’t carry weapons except for self-defense. If any violence occurs, call police and let them handle it. Have them on your side.”

Curtis arranged to send information of scheduled marches in advance, in order to provide guards and maintain peace. “We must have a green non-violent approach. We must not initiate any violence.”

As tensions grew, the bands of scoundrels attacking students increased and bouts of violence became more frequent. During one parade, when the fighting became more extended, local and state police used tear gas, clubs, made a number of arrests of attackers and students alike. Seen on TV these incidents took the guise of a war. Two similar incidents occurring two days later in different cities with injuries, more arrests and large numbers of angry and aggressive students almost killing several of the attackers: the period leading to the election had changed. Media heralded the change in atmosphere as warlike. Some stressed that the students, armed to kill, were now prepared to fight, and the real beliefs of the green movement were being revealed.

Realizing the emergency and the negative change with less than five weeks to election day John, Ron, Audrey, other coalition leaders and eight green candidates met to discuss how to handle the situation. Many of the attackers, arrested during various incidents, spoke freely, obviously prepared to answer questions. They spoke of the loss of jobs, the green movement, even if right, was too late to change the climate, and with losing the advantage of oil and gas the future looked far bleaker than before. The leaders who trained them were named and described but difficult to tie to any industry or group. But that there was money and power behind the attacks was clear.

A number of officials representing the oil and gas industries openly supported the attackers saying they were the true Americans trying to prevent a debacle that once started would be hard to contain. No country in the world would support the ailing US economy. They would welcome its demise.

Meanwhile they repeatedly preached that natural forces will soon control and end global warming and not to be misled by fanatics and obsessed leaders. Science, logic and rationality were abandoned. The lines were being clearly drawn and the outcome of the election was now in doubt. Popular opinion influenced by lies, ads, and job insecurity was beginning to swing to the conservative non-green side.

 

Less than a month to election a truly major incident erupted and changed the nature of the campaign. A formidable group of armed men attacked a large, peaceful parade in Chicago that included celebrities, actors, politicians, bands, and a number of green candidates,. The students had been warned that an angry group of people were approaching the parade and lay in wait. Within moments a savage counterattack by over a hundred well armed students, fighting with a ferocity previously unknown, occurred. Police were called but not before seven attackers and several students lay dead and many others injured.

Though the reaction of the students was understandable as a defense against violence, their excessive brutality and using lethal weapons were immediately criticized by Curtis, representatives of Home Security and the various colleges where they matriculated. A number of students who had been arrested, waited for further punishment and possible dismissal from school. Released on probationary status the students resumed their classes. The colleges publicly declared their opposition to such student violence but postponed a final decision on what punishment was indicated.

Acting harshly at the time would have caused major student disruptions in universities across the country. Strong support for the students came from all parts of the country who were mainly seen as heroes protecting themselves from the hate and violence of fascistic thugs. In a period, when all actions were intensified by the unbearable heat, fighting global warming had taken on new meaning.

Following the outbreak and deaths, Curtis has been in contact with the universities and with Home Security. Despite their general support of the principles that guided the Coalition, Curtis was warned that he must prevent the students from taking the law into their own hands. No matter how violent the attacks they must refrain from deliberate retaliation and lethal weapons must be banned.

Home Security took a hard line in response to Curtis’s question about what should the students do when attacked by men brandishing weapons to kill? The response was curt. Defense is understandable but not a response as though they were an army waiting to kill. Actions must be non-violent and the police would handle the attackers. Any future similar episode and the national guard and army would be called in. He was left with the admonishment, “be careful.” Curtis decided that there was no way he could implement their warnings. The integrity of the Student Coalition was at stake.

In the widespread use of deceptive ads, blogs and television spots, students were shown in an increasingly negative light. New fights and reactions of the students often filmed out of context fed the negativity. The effect influenced many voters to believe that the forces behind the Coalition were revolutionaries. As many other similar attacks occurred journalists began to see a conspiracy that was geared to arouse the US Army to enter the fray and to fight the students whom they assumed would eventually be beyond control. Smaller skirmishes were harder to track and warnings were often late or absent.

With the election only three and a half weeks away, the President and various governors called upon the National Guard to protect all larger parades and meetings. The government managed to avoid being induced to become more active allowing the local police and National Guard to protect the students and other participants. But the publicity over the need for guards and the potential for violence was beginning to end the apparent peaceful aura that had hung over the green movement.

 

Despite the violence, Curtis and the Harvard 44 continued to focus on the support of the green candidates. By using similar criteria that were used to select House candidates the Coalition designated the “chosen” green Senate candidates they would actively help. Curtis and the Coalition assumed that the remaining Senators would be supportive realizing that their election in two to four years was on the line. Many senators were already committed to the idea of a green country.

Curtis was biding his time when he would ask the incumbent President to make a major speech to clarify why he was supporting the end of fossil fuel burning. The public needed to understand that he was not doing it by coercion and the need to guarantee his re-election. His motivation was strictly due to accepted science and belief that we have run out of time.

Also the President would state that the first act of his new administration would be to sign into a law the order to start the process to end the use of fossil fuels. Curtis had in mind that he would ask the President to direct the energy industries to cut their output of carbon energy by 10% the first year, increasing to 15 % the second and third years and to 20% a year thereafter. Carbon dioxide production in the United States would be over in six years.

Curtis would advise the President to discuss the unknown future of methane production and its influence on controlling global warming. The urgency to end the burning of fossil fuels would be tied to the need to reduce temperature increases hoping that this would slow the breakdown of permafrost.

The President would not hide his personal hope and prayer that the warming had not risen to the point of no return where a feedback loop had been established. That fact alone would be broadcast widely to encourage on the rest of the world to follow the leadership of the US and commence ending their use of fossil fuels. The years of waiting to determine if the catastrophic dangers ahead had been averted would be more tolerable knowing that the entire world had decided to act as a unit.

Nothing in this agenda was foreign to the personal beliefs of the President. He knew that the fate of the world hung, at least in part, on the unknown influence of methane production. It must be absolutely clear to everyone that we can’t play Russian roulette with our future. There is no choice but to make this final effort and pray that we started the change in time. Stopping CO2 production is no longer a matter of do it or not. It’s a matter of preserving our planet or not. Without trying now we may lose our final opportunity. The President must be completely convincing. The time for this major speech was planned to take place ten days before the election.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 29

 

 

Out of the growing enmity and chaos erupting in the intense election campaigns, a group of anti or non-green candidates, or as they preferred to be called the Natural Weather Cycle candidates, met and delivered a challenge to John Curtis and representatives of the green House candidates to meet in a nationally televised program. They announced their wish to finally put to rest the differences in their positions on global warming. Curtis and the green candidates readily accepted the challenge and suggested that the debate could include several members of the Student Coalition that would give greater breadth to the discussion. The expanded panel was immediately accepted by the Natural Weather Cycle candidates.

As news of a potential debate spread, the media picked up the possibility of a valuable contribution to clarifying the issues between the two sides. With time running out, the arrangements were quickly made. Much confusion now existed and the former enthusiasm to embrace zero emissions supported by the green candidates and nurtured by the Student Coalition was waning.

The momentum of the green candidates was losing traction as questions of national security, job losses, breaking up the oil infrastructure, increasing the possibility of a major depression and the extraordinary expenses to justify such a move, were threatening its viability. New studies indicating that the increasing temperature was part of a natural weather cycle that was nearing its end became accepted by many people now scared of ending the use of fossil fuels. Scientific reality was being replaced by pseudo science, misinformation and lies. The public was scared and massive changes in the environment added to their fears.

The electorate hungry to settle their ambivalence, quickly clamored for a primetime debate.

The media and public caught the fever of excitement imagining the fireworks of a debate that included young green enthusiasts against experienced and knowledgeable political speakers. A combined Internet and smart phone national contest evolved, attempting to pick favorite students for the green side. The prospect of having students debating with experienced House candidates was lauded and suggestions for including favorite students became widespread.

One enterprising, well known journalist took a leap of the imagination and suggested a debate pitting a single Coalition student against one Natural Weather Cycle candidate and calling it the debate of the century. The public embraced the idea and quickly dubbed such a debate “David versus Goliath” which caught the fancy of the media. John Curtis immediately recognized that such a debate, if handled well, could again turn the tide back to the rationale of zero emissions.

The non-green group, who couldn’t imagine a student defeating one of their best debaters, accepted the idea and magnanimously suggested that to even the odds the Student Coalition could select two or three students to give them an equal chance. The media bandied the idea around and created contests, arranged polls, and listed many of the outstanding students. John Curtis inwardly smiled as he thought that only one student would be enough, Brett Forinsky, but for the time being he would let the publicity play out as the public excitement grew.

Slowly the idea of a single student fighting for the life of the green movement, as the media played up the idea, took hold in the country’s imagination and students began to search for that one student who could win such a battle. Meanwhile, the specific plans for the debate were consolidated. Without Curtis’s input, Forinsky’s name came to the top of the list. He was clearly the favorite of the Student Coalition to represent their cause.

After the appropriate consultations, Curtis announced that though he was appreciative of the opposition gesture to allow three students to debate their one candidate, the Coalition and green candidates decided that one student, Brett Forinsky, would singly represent the green movement. The debate was scheduled for Tuesday evening on October 22nd, just two weeks before the election. After consulting with Curtis, several candidates and advisors, the President announced that he would make a major speech on Friday of that same week regarding the election and his position on zero emissions for the fossil fuel industry.

Due to the unusual nature and the obvious importance of this debate it was decided to use two experienced and respected hosts, both known for fairness, sharp questions, effective interviewing techniques, as well as being very knowledgeable about global warming. The media and public applauded the selections, namely Conrad Stockman from CNN and Deborah Hardy from PBS. Both hosts politely refrained from interviews regarding their handling the debate.

The producers decided to satisfy all listeners by dividing the time into three different segments, each running twenty minutes without breaks or commercials. In the first segment each host would ask questions of each debater. To further assure fairness individual questions were selected from many placed in an opaque glass bowl.

Questions in the second segment would be a one to one free-for-all debate with each debater responding to questions from the opposing debater. Except for time limitations for the questions and answers, the two debaters would be on their own.

The third segment would deal with audience questions sent by email prior to the start of the debate. The final selections would be determined by a board of reviewers and directed to the debater chosen by the audience participant.

In all three segments there would be up to one minute to answer a question and 30 seconds to reply or challenge the answer. Further rebuttals would not be allowed, except in the second segment. Strict timing would be adhered to, including a ten second warning and a two second warning that time was nearly up. Five seconds beyond time allowed the mike would be turned off and additionally the offending debater would have that extra time deducted from his next question.

 

On that October 22nd evening, the debate opened to unprecedented worldwide interest and was being shown on the three major networks, as well as PBS and CNN. After Doris Gonzalez, Under Secretary of Energy, introduced the two hosts, Conrad Stockman and Deborah Hardy, sitting at the same table, she paused and waited while the camera shifted to the two debaters seated on armless chairs about ten feet apart.

She first introduced US Representative Richard Milford running for his fourth term in Congress. “Mr. Milford is well known to most of us,” Madame Gonzalez stated. “The various energy related bills he has introduced into Congress that have become law have made him a well-known advocate supporting natural weather changes as the cause of global warming. For his many followers he is the leading House member fighting against the belief that the burning of fossil fuels is the engine behind global warming that has brought CO2 to its current dangerous levels.

“His opponent is 21 year old Brett Forinsky, a senior at MIT, working toward his BS degree in Environmental Science. Although not well known by the public he has become a legend within the Student Coalition and is sought by many environmental groups to give speeches and to participate in seminars. He has written over 40 papers as an undergraduate student on the environment. He is planning to take a year or two off and then resume his studies working for a PhD in environmental science, presumably at MIT.

“By a flip of a coin, Conrad Stockman will ask the first question. All the questions are written on cards placed in envelopes and deposited in the opaque bowl you see on the table in front of the hosts. The questions are not known to the hosts or the debaters. The hosts will pick the questions from the opaque bowl and direct them to each debater in turn. Each host will select questions for both candidates in sequence. Let’s begin.

 

“Mr. Milford,” Stockman asked, “Why do you feel that this period of global warming is different from the past?”

Mr. Milford smiled broadly as he pondered the question. “Actually, I don’t believe that this period of global warming is different. However, I am certain that my opponent will shower you with many fanciful reasons he believes otherwise. From a strictly rational approach we can recognize that the climate is following a perfectly logical course based on our entering a warm period that occurs periodically between ice ages.

“We are aware that though the CO2 level has not been this high for millions of years it is following a normal course of warming. The rapidity of rise indicates that it will be relatively short and will follow a rapid decline, which is scheduled to begin in the near future. There is nothing to indicate that the CO2 level or temperature will go much further and certainly not reach those catastrophic heights predicted by the green movement.

“Our country has become unduly frightened by the outpouring of misinformation over many years from the green movement that has been accentuated by millions of college kids known as the Student Coalition.” Mr. Milford stopped, but not before smiling to the television audience.

“Mr. Forinsky, you have 30 Seconds,” Conrad Stockman said, nodding for Forinsky to start.

Forinsky did not smile, look at the audience or the host. Rather, he focused on Mr. Milford. “Mr. Milford, are you aware that 99 % of the world’s scientists believe that the burning of fossil fuels is the essential engine behind global warming? The rise of CO2 from 280 ppm less than 250 years ago to today’s level of 450 ppm is completely unprecedented. Elevation of CO2 in the past took thousand of years to occur and the level had never surpassed 400 ppm for over 15 million years. There is no scientifically determined scheduled time for its decline.”

“Mr. Forinsky, your first question,” Stockman said, glancing at the card in his hand. “If there is a disaster ahead according to the doomsday scenario promoted by the green movement why don’t we all just try to enjoy life the best we can?”

“The green movement does not subscribe to the doomsday scenario, though if there is no control of greenhouse gases then indeed the future can be likened to Armageddon as it has been called. To not make this final attempt to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophe is akin to believing it is hopeless to stop the temperature rise. Even today no one can truly enjoy life as in the past and it will worsen if nothing is done. Under no conditions should we take a do-nothing position.”

“Mr. Milford, your reply.”

“We definitely believe that we should adapt to the current condition and enjoy life the best we can. Time is on the side of waiting this out until the temperature lowers. We have no doubt that it is imminent.”

Deborah Hardy directed her first question to Forinsky. “Should the government just shut down all the oil and gas companies? What about the rest of the world? What’s the good of doing that, if the world doesn’t follow suit?”

“That is a key question the Americans will face when it shuts down all the oil and gas companies, which must be done. We believe that by taking the lead with this drastic, unilateral step without holding any other country responsible that the rest of the world will reduce and finally stop the use of fossil fuels. We must remember that the world is as aware as we of the future dangers and the cause. If they don’t, then our efforts would have been in vain. In this case, we pray that the world will join us to save our civilization.”

“Mr. Milford, please respond.”

“First, we don’t believe that shutting down the fossil fuels industries will take place, but if it did there is no way the rest of the world will follow our lead. They rightly don’t trust us in the handling of global warming. Knowing our record, they’re justified. But none of this will happen anyway.”

“Mr. Milford, your question. If America decreases the use of oil and gas very rapidly over the six years suggested by the green movement how would the United States avoid a major depression? Isn’t it better to take our chances with the climate?”

“Excellent question. That exactly the point we have been making. Trying to stop the use of oil and gas would cause the greatest depression ever experienced by our country. That’s one reason this will never happen. Unemployment, social discontent, violence, people starving, fighting over food and water and even revolting against the government would be the result.”

“Mr. Forinsky, your reply, please.”

“We believe the opposite will occur. As happened during World War II the entire economy shifted to producing weapons while engaged in war. There was no disruption. By stopping the burning of fossil fuels there will be a rapid shift of jobs to renewable energy, training for new jobs, reducing the fear of a catastrophe. There will be no depression. By not acting and the weather worsens, our country and the world can go into a fatal tailspin.”

Stockman extracted his next card from the opaque bowl.

“Mr. Forinsky, your question. Is it really possible that the seas will rise to five or six feet by the end of the century? Why would that happen since it has only risen one foot with a two degree Celsius rise? Even if the temperature rose four or six degrees where does the additional rise in sea level come from?”

Before responding, Forinsky paused and frowned slightly. “Yes, that does seem out of line. But here is the reasoning gathered by scientists who have studied this probability. As the temperature rises certain things happen more rapidly. One, the seas that are increasingly free of ice cover during summer and winter, absorb more heat, which expands the water, and also causes more rapid melting of the remaining ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. As it gets hotter then the seas that remain ice-free continues to expand aided by the feedback loop. A time may appear several hundred years in the future as CO2 levels continue to increase that the Arctic and Antarctica ice would be completely gone. The seas would have risen over 200 feet. Most continents would be primarily underwater.”

“Mr. Milford, your response. Please do not treat this question by saying it could not happen. Please reply as though it could, so we get an idea of how the non-green movement has thought out a future if global warming continues despite their belief it is getting ready to end.”
Mr. Milford scowled as he pondered the comment made by Mr. Stockman regarding the question. “First, I resent that you have chosen me to modify my personal answers to a green oriented question.”

“Mr. Milford, if you prefer to ignore my request then answer anyway you want. I certainly believe the nationwide audience would like to have your more complete answer. I’ll also start your 30 second response now and not penalize you for my comments.”
Milford realized he was given no choice. “Of course,” he said graciously. “Naturally, we have considered such possibilities. After all, we’re basing our ideas on science that always looks at the big picture. We believe exactly what Forinsky said. More open ocean water, more heat absorption, more melting of ice caps and greater sea rise. That’s it.” He turned and smiled at the television audience and nodding to the hosts continued to smile.

No one was fooled by his merely copying the explanation given by Forinsky rather than have any of his own ideas. He had deftly avoided answering the question. But Milford’s anger showed through his façade.

“Mr. Milford, your question. Assuming that the world’s scientists are correct and that having passed 450 ppm of CO2 with greenhouse gases accelerating we are on course to reach a temperature rise to three degrees Celsius by 2050 or earlier and will probably reach over seven or eight degrees Celsius by the 2100? How would you handle this potential catastrophe?”

“How many times do I have to repeat that such a scenario is impossible. It just won’t happen. Therefore, there is no need to handle such an outlandish possibility that has been dreamed up by all the sheep-like scientists and the green movement. Do any of you really believe,” Milford said in a loud, high pitched voice, staring out at the television audience, “that if the world were in such dire straits that the rest of the world would be sitting idly by watching their world collapse? They have scientists and computers also. This is too meaningless to discuss further.”

“Mr. Forinsky, your reply.”

For the first time Forinsky very deliberately swept his eyes to touch the vast audience watching the show, then back to Milford. “Not only are the scientists correct but to call them sheep-like is a true effrontery. These scientists come from every country on earth and in separate studies have come to the same conclusions. Their figures are accurate and the extent of the danger comes from exhaustive studies. If there is any way to curtail the danger it must come about by stopping the burning of fossil fuels.”

The camera shifted to Milford scowling as he heard Forinsky’s response. It was clear to the television audience that Milford was upset with the answer and apparently the results of the entire debate thus far.

Forinsky’s question regarding the loss of marine species gave him an opportunity to discuss how ocean acidification is occurring at ten times the rate of similar increases in the past and has resulted in the blanching and death of corals which has contributed a significant part in the loss of marine species as has overfishing. Milford answered the question by saying that over fishing had caused much of the loss of fish and that the corals would recover and the fish population would also revive as soon as the weather reverts back to normal.

“Mr. Milford, your question. Most Americans are fully aware that the predictions made by Ron Barrett over 17-18 years ago have come true. Fires have already destroyed many forests and trees. Dustbowls have occurred throughout the southwest, Texas and middle America and in much of the world. Glaciers are gone. Arctic ice is gone throughout the summer. The oceans have become acidified and few fish survive, just as Barrett predicted. Isn’t that sufficient evidence that his other predictions are accurate?”

“No, absolutely not. Those things happened because it had become hotter. No one is denying that. We’re discussing the cause of the temperature increase and when it will end. Barrett isn’t God and neither is his wife. He doesn’t know the future any more than anyone else. Our scientists say that the weather will soon improve. That is the truth, not the fairy tales told by the green movement.”
“Mr. Forinsky, please,”

For just a moment it appeared that Forinsky’s face had become taut and his lips seemed compressed. “Fairy tales you call the truth. Is that what the non-Green candidates believe? Each year conditions worsen and you expect rational people to believe that because you say so that it will stop. Are you aware that the conditions that exist today will take thousands of years to return to a normal 280 ppm CO2, even if somehow there was no further rise in CO2, which won’t happen without our intervention? Finally, Ron Barrett and his wife have been the primary advocates for a rational evaluation and explanation of global warming. They have educated much of this country to the dangers. Your comment that they aren’t gods was totally uncalled for and I personally resent your implications.”

“Mr. Forinsky, your question. Why does John Curtis ignore all the scientific proof described by Ron Barrett over years that it is now too late to stop global warming? Is his premise faulty or just guess work? Is this all a task in futility? Are we being deceived? In other words can anything change the disaster that lies ahead?”

“John Curtis is not a dreamer. aving been Having been an avid follower of Ron and Audrey Barrett for years, he readily acknowledges his debt to them. Nevertheless, he believes that it is not possible to fully determine at what precise point global warming is beyond stopping. What he says and now even Ron and Audrey accept this premise that even if the possibility is minimal, the only way we could conceivably stop the rising greenhouse gases is by stopping its primary cause. The burning of fossil fuels.

“It’s a matter of do we try it or just accept the otherwise inevitable result which spells the end of our civilization and in a short few hundred years would leave our planet uninhabitable. There is no deception. He has declared numerous times that he is operating under this impetus that if we don’t make this attempt and it turns out we could have stopped the final assault on our planet, it would be unforgivable. We could not go back and say we should have done it. In that matter, we may have reached that point ten or twenty years ago, but we can’t go back. John Curtis has made it clear, we must do it now.”

“Mr. Milford, please respond. Milford spoke more slowly and deliberately attempting to make up for his guffaw of the last question. “It is certainly commendable that John Curtis admits he could be wrong. Unfortunately he is wrong in the wrong way.” Milford laughed at his attempt at humor. “John Curtis, like the other greens, just believes the wrong set of data. There is just no justification to stop burning anything since the natural weather cycle will soon reassert itself. No one more than I wants global warming to go away. I believe what I do because it is the truth.”

By now the nationwide audience knew what kind of answer to expect from Milford.

By holding on to the natural weather cycle as the cause of the current temperature rise there was little reason to have studied or even read about many aspects of global warming that were known in great depth by the environmental groups.

 

Without any preliminary warning or intermission, Deborah Hardy announced the beginning of the second segment, a free interaction by the two debaters without interruption by the hosts, unless some boundary setting was required. As before neither debater could monopolize the debate. The same time limits as in the first segment would prevail.

“Mr. Forinsky, please begin.”

“Mr. Milford, why do the non-green or natural climate change people persist in believing in non-scientific concepts? It is clear that…”

Milford with a scowl interrupted. “Look, Forinsky, our concepts are scientific. The green movement embraces non-scientific ideas. That’s been clear for many years. The surprise is how many Americans you have convinced you’re right. Talking about manipulation of people’s minds!”

Very deliberately Forinsky responded, “I could list hundreds, actually thousands of world-class climate scientists who have demonstrated that global warming is primarily due to manmade production of carbon dioxide. Milford, name me just one true scientist who shares your beliefs. Just one.”

Milford’s face lit up. “Professor Gunderson from Finland has written a number of papers giving proof that natural weather conditions have caused global warming.”
“Can you please give me the background of this Professor Gunderson?” Forinsky asked quietly.

“Why. He’s world famous. Everyone knows him and he’s highly respected.”
“Please tell me the name of one of his better known articles?”
“Well…well. Look, Forinsky, I don’t spend my time memorizing the names of articles by anyone.”

“I see,” Forinsky said casually. “Let me refresh your memory. Professor Gunderson is not a real professor. He started a climate lab in Finland after being run out of Denmark for falsifying data in a paper. Also, he is under indictment in Finland for avoiding tax payments. He is planning to move to Iceland to avoid prosecution.

“He calls himself professor but has no university connection. He has written four papers, all published on his website and in no scientific journals. The most, how should I say it, most interesting one is titled. “The Real Truth of Global Warming.” In this article he spends the entire 1400 word document denying the truth of several papers of Ron Barrett.”

Milford was obviously awed by Forinsky’s breadth of knowledge and upset by this revelation. “All right, Forinsky, so I was misinformed. No harm lost, right?”
“Wrong. Such misinformation harms the public. Apparently you believe that we can just ignore your avoidance of truth and your attempts to deceive the public. The public won’t mind, isn’t that what you believe?”
“I resent those accusations by you. You’re just a student and not even a scientist.”

“And you’re just a Congressman and also not a scientist.

“Listen, Forinsky, Congressmen depend on information from an educated staff and can offer facts to the public with the assurance they are correct.”

“Does that mean that you stop thinking for yourself? By merely experiencing global warming you must be aware that our environment is rapidly changing for the worst. But since you’re the responsible one offering this information which has no merit and hides truths that the public must know in order to work toward trying to preserve our planet, you’re acting irresponsibly. Your misinformation is harming your constituents and your failure to prove anything you say is helping prevent our country from finally doing something to bring down global warming. People like you are fully responsible for the coming breakdown of civilization and what I consider a criminal act.”

Milford’s face reddened and deeply scowling he sprang from his chair and pointed a finger at Forinsky. “How dare you call me a criminal. Who do you think you are? Pretending to know what you say and then accusing knowledgeable individuals of wrong doing. That’s slander and defamation and if this wasn’t a public debate I would sue you.”

“I would like nothing better than to meet you in a court of law and let the law decide right and wrong and if your destructive ideas and behavior don’t constitute criminal behavior.”

“I may take up your accusatory behavior with your school and let them decide if you are acting in a reasonable manner with a US. Congressman.”

“I would welcome such a meeting at MIT.”

 

Deborah Hardy finally intervened. “Although you are free to discuss whatever you like I believe it would benefit the listeners to hear further discussion of your different beliefs about global warming.”

Forinsky glanced at Deborah Hardy and finally also stood up and looked at Milford who had sat down. “Milford, I admit that I don’t fully understand how people like you and other vehement deniers can continue to act against the future of all of us, especially young people who face a dire and perhaps uninhabitable future. Don’t you grasp that we are losing any hope of a meaningful and happy future. As we get older the world condition will inexorably worsen and we, people like your own children, face a struggle to survive. Have you no heart, no understanding; of what this means to us. We’re fighting for our lives. Don’t you have children? Don’t your friends have children? Are you willing to let them go into a terrible future where heat, violence, starvation, lack of water, deadly storms and all the other things that we now face will be our future. Milford, we’re not fighting for change strictly for the sake of change. We’re fighting for a life that we see slipping away. Our anger is overwhelming us when simple solutions are ignored and made to seem wrong. We know that stopping the burning of fossil fuels is akin to undoing the infrastructure of America but it is the only way to save our future. You’ve got to understand and believe that.”

Milford took several deep breaths, looked steadily at Forinsky then very quietly spoke, “Forinsky, although you may not believe me, I was really moved by your words. I am sad, yes sad, that you are suffering so much basing your fears and future on false information. I don’t worry about your future or the future of my children for I am convinced that we’re near the end of the global warming and once the cycle ends the heat will rapidly return to normal. My conscience is clear and I hope that very soon you will see the temperature falling.”

Forinsky, unsuccessfully, tried to hide the few tears that had appeared in his eyes. My God, he thought, the situation is hopeless dealing with people like Milford. They will let the world end. We must raise the consciousness of America and remove men like him from Congress. They believe their irrationality.

 

Forinsky remained silent and Milford after looking out at the audience and smiling broadly asked Forinsky to start the questioning again.

“Since you are obviously the senior debater with vast knowledge and experience I do have a very simple question for you,” Forinsky said, again very quietly.

Milford waited, though to the audience he seemed fidgety.

“Let’s for a moment assume that you and the non-green contingents are 100% correct and we are in a natural weather cycle as part of a warming period between ice ages as you have so adroitly pointed out. That being the case and there is no other natural weather warming period that has taken less than several hundred thousand years to complete before again reverting to the subsequent cold cycle we’d love to know where the information that this warming cycle, already the warmest in over 15 million years, will run its course in just a few hundred years. And please quote your scientific source, which I’m sure you would do anyway.”

“Look, Forinsky, don’t tell me how to answer your question.”

“Knowing your scientific source is actually part of the question since it will allow the public to assess the facts that determine your position.”

“Questions are questions. But your question is easy to answer. Since the last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago, there have been many warm periods as well as cold periods. They occur all the time. Most people know that.”

“Actually, Milford, I agree with you and how do those warm periods fit in with the current warming period?”

“This is just another one like the others. Maybe a bit hotter, but it’s all within the variation of what might be expected.”
Forinsky waited a moment for Milford to continue before speaking. “Since the last ice age ended 11,700 years ago we have been in a warm period within normal variations and fluctuations that always occur in natural weather cycles. In those cycles as you no doubt know, the CO2 level hardly budged despite the temperature varying. The last fluctuation was called the Medieval Warm Period that occurred between 950 to 1250 AD, while the last cold period occurred between 1250 to 1750. So in that sense they represented the natural fluctuations. However, the CO2 remained relatively the same despite the variation in temperature. In natural weather changes, the CO2 level follows the temperature. In our case due to the global warming not being natural, the CO2 has led the temperature change to heights not recorded for millions of years, not like the minor changes in the natural cycle changes.”

“All right, all right. so you did your homework, just like any good student. Why do you persist in saying man is responsible? Do you want to cause a revolution? Is that your real reason? If the government caused it, then the people, as you see it, have a right to rebel and bring down the government.”

“Milford, have you forgotten to look at the newspaper. Our election race is based on electing representatives and new Senators by the citizens. That is the democratic way. Where do you see a revolution in that except it could change our society for the better and hopefully avert the disaster ahead.”
“Don’t kid me. I know you’re oriented toward war. I haven’t forgotten that first video from your first camp outing with the Harvard boy scouts shouting to bring down the government. You blamed the government and so did your buddies. If that wasn’t trying to arouse people to rebel then what was it?”

“As you probably know I was at that first camp outing,” Forinsky said quietly. “I believe we were aroused by the total disregard of our government to do anything to stop global warming from continuing to rise. Any American would have been angry if they weren’t afraid. Doesn’t that include you? Or have you enjoyed living in almost unbearable heat?

“I don’t need your sarcasm, Forinsky. The heat hasn’t bothered me much since I know these kind of things happen in life.

“Happen in life. Yes, but not for millions of years.”

“Those numbers are wrong. Don’t believe everything that the climatologists say. Everyone knows they are paid off by universities looking for grants or by think tanks which don’t think.” A false laugh irritated Forinsky.

“I doubt that you would know anything about think tanks?” Forinsky said simply.

Milford merely laughed. “Forinsky, no thinking man has any idea why you persist in wanting 100% green. Naturally to me it is clear. Since there is no way that will happen it gives you an out when nothing will change. You can blame the public for not supporting you.”

Milford again laughed. “You don’t need 100% of the House, which anyway is almost impossible considering the nature of this country. Even with 70-80% any active president could pass any laws he wanted. But you know the answer. Even with new laws no one is going to touch the oil and gas industries in this country. That would be suicide politically and cause the biggest economic disaster to ever hit America.”

“Do you want a straight and complete answer?” Forinsky asked.

“Sure,” Milford replied, “I’m for facts and truth and I’d like to hear this one.”

“Because it’s a wakeup call for Americans and voters. Once the country knows that the entire country supports such a move and the president believes in the same approach this country will be on the way to protect our civilization. Also…”

“What nonsense.”
“Just a minute, Milford, please don’t interrupt, since you wanted a complete answer.”

“OK, go ahead.”

“Having the entire House and all the new senators on the green side would arouse the remainder of the world to join with the US to start their own shut down of fossil fuel burning.”

Milford broke out with loud, almost uncontrollable laughter. “You gotta be out of your head to think the rest of the world will give a damn.”

“Watch your language,” Mr. Stockman interjected.

“Sorry. To repeat. I don’t think that the rest of the world will care what we did. And they don’t believe the global warming stuff anyway.”

Forinsky retorted in an angry voice. “You think the rest of the world is as blind as the non-green people in our country.”

“No one is blind. They’re just aware of the stupid ideas you have come up with. If you were to manage to convince the people to vote for your green ideas it would be a miracle.”

“Milford, I hope this debate gives the public a clear idea of our two points of view. We represent large numbers of people who had hoped to gain a new and better understanding from us. I’m not certain that has occurred, but one thing is clear. I believe that time is of the essence and you believe we should do nothing and just wait this out. That difference is so distinct we are drawing a line in the sand.

“We say we can’t procrastinate. We must stop the temperature rising. There is no other way. Do we wait until it is too late and it might already be too late. If something were to change the situation, no one would be more thankful than I.”

“You will have much to be thankful for when the temperature soon starts coming down,” Milford said. “Will you and your buddies be surprised. Frankly, I hope you are and we wouldn’t hold any grudges against you for fighting the truth for so long.”

“That’s not true of us,” Forinsky countered. “ We are angry against your non-green contingency for blocking legislation and change over many years. You may have been responsible, among others, for causing the demise of our civilization. If we don’t succeed in finally stopping global warming I, for one, would not forgive and not forget my anger. I would have watched the stupidity and ignorance of people like you cause the end of the greatest flowering of humanity the world has ever known. Unlike you, I am speaking the truth and not being guided by lies and deception.”
Milford merely sneered, “Listen, Forinsky, I hardly think your comments are worth any reaction. The world knows the truth and so do your greenies who will get nowhere with this election. When it comes time to vote, all sensible people will realize how foolish they have been and vote against your candidates.”

 

“Gentleman, the time is up for the second segment.” Deborah Hardy interrupted. “We’ll now go on to the third segment and answer direct questions from the audience. We have selected questions that touch on subjects not previously broached or have aroused deep feelings in many people. These questions are most representative of the public view. We also decided not to change the emotional language of the writer of the question. Some of it may seem raw, but it shows the overall tenor of the writer’s attitude. Mr. Milford gets the first question.”

“Mr. Milford, why is Canada closing their borders? Is there something they are afraid of?”

“They’re afraid that there will be a major exodus of people to Canada primarily because of the scare tactics set up by the green movement. People are beginning to think that America will be a terrible place to live. It’s that simple.”

“Mr. Forinsky, your response.”

“Milford’s reason is partly correct but not because of scare tactics but due to the realization that the lower latitudes will bear the brunt of the increasing heat, droughts and floods. The enormous open lands of Canada, now warming, provide a new place to settle, farm and raise children. Ultimately, they too will suffer the enormity of climate change.”

“Mr. Forinsky, as the world knows, half of Australia is now a dustbowl. In 50 or 75 years it will have spread across the entire continent. The same is happening to the southwest US. How are we going to cope with such events as part of global warming?”

“That is one of the most dire and frightening aspects of the unfolding global warming crisis. I know of no solution other than trying to stop the increasing greenhouse gases, the step we’d like to initiate by working toward zero emissions from fossil fuel burning.”

“Mr. Milford, please.”

“I have no other idea, but to wait for the natural weather changes to bring down the temperature and we revert back to our old weather conditions.”

“Mr. Forinsky, how can we expect to lower the use of fossil fuels to zero in six years? It doesn’t seem possible. Why not do it more slowly so there can be proper adaptation?”

“Time is of the essence. We don’t believe we can delay this process any longer. It can be done through widening the use of renewable energy. Expansion of solar panels using excellent photovoltaic batteries, wind energy can expand dramatically through offshore use and taking advantage of higher elevations where the winds are stronger and less apt to temporarily stop for long. Use far more geothermal, especially tapping into the internal super hot core. Geothermal never stops producing energy. Wave and tide energy can be more extensively used. We have all the technology for rapidly expanding renewable energy. It’s a matter of speeding it up by the government making this a war effort.”
“Mr. Milford?”

“The green movement is dreaming if they think they can accomplish such an extensive change in the infrastructure of this country in such a short time. Remember it is not necessary since it is only a matter of time before we’ll all look back and laugh at the folly of worrying about global warming.”

“Mr. Milford, I presume that you are aware that the rise in CO2 parallels the increased burning of fossil fuels beginning at the start of the Industrial revolution over 200 years ago. Doesn’t that support the green ideas?”

“Of course not. Just coincidence. Simple as that.”

“Mr. Forinsky.”

“No coincidence at all but strictly the basis for the reasoning and rationale of the connection between CO2 and global warming.”

“Mr. Forinsky, my understanding is that no matter what we do the temperature will increase for many years and probably not stop before reaching 550 or 600. That’s almost impossible to imagine. If that’s the case, how do we know that what you do would really work?”

“That requires that you believe the science regarding the cause. If CO2 production stopped completely today it would probably be decades before the changes were detected. That is due to continuing production of methane, the release of heat from the oceans and all the many sources in the world that would still emit CO2. Also the different countries would stop their production at different rates. The impact of the accumulated CO2, loss of Arctic ice and worldwide glaciers would continue to affect temperature for a long time. Ending fossil fuel burning will not automatically stop the temperature from continuing to rise.”

“Mr. Milford?”
“I don’t believe the science in this regard. When CO2 starts down the temperature will drop rapidly. People have to make up their mind whom they believe. Can you imagine what will happen if we dismantle the oil infrastructure and it does no good. Except we’d have environmental chaos.”

“Mr. Milford, I am quoting the exact letter from a young woman in Ohio.” Ms. Hardy read, “As part of the aware public, I try to understand what is true and what isn’t. Global warming is not an idle fantasy. We are living in it and it is causing undue hardships throughout the world. Why do you have such rancor and continue to accuse the green movement of lying? It was mainly through the green leaders as Ron Barrett and his wife that we that learned what we did about the causes of global warming.”

Ms. Hardy continued, ardy continued H“Your whole story is just denying and ridiculing the serious attempts of the green movement to offer truth based on science to the American people. You have taught us nothing. We’re trying to understand differences in your positions. You sound as if you’re trying to hide the facts and assume that the public is stupid.”

“My, my, such a biased question,” Milford said derisively. “Naturally, such words come from a real greenie. Just keep in mind that what you think was truth was not. You have been hoodwinked for years and what we offer is not to hide but to reveal the untruths coming from the green movement. No more and no less. So wise up.”

“Mr. Forinsky?”
Forinsky was clearly angry at the last remarks. “Milford, you’re a sorry example of a United State’s representative, ridiculing a constituent and citizen who may have a different viewpoint but is concerned enough to send us a question, a very fair one, I thought. Your condescension and negative attitude are hardly worth a response. This debate was to give the public a better understanding of our differences. I, for one, would like to continue on that basis.”

“Mr. Forinsky, another possible controversial question.”

“Why do you maintain such a high and mighty attitude, making it appear that only the greens have the answers? Although you are probably right, are you trying to brainwash us? Do you ever think there can be any other way to stop global warming. Maybe all the scientists are wrong. You leave no room for such possibilities.”

“The question does indicate what could be a failing of the green movement. In a world where anything is possible it might be that all the scientists are wrong. However, the likelihood that 99% of all the world’s scientific experts who agree that fossil fuels are the basic cause of global warming are wrong seems highly improbable. As a group they present what their studies indicate. They clearly see the dangers and realize that saving civilization is at stake.

“It is true that we repeat their findings and warnings as the bona fide backup to taking the stand that we do. Letting our planet come to this stage and doing nothing significant to stop greenhouse gases from increasing borders on the criminal. If this is seen as brainwashing then I concur we are guilty of such an act.”

“Mr. Milford.”

“That question exactly makes the point that we have been pointing out for years. The green movement doesn’t want to open their eyes to any other possibility. They push the so called scientific agenda as though it’s a guaranteed truth.”

“Mr. Milford, a writer asks where in your time table do you think the natural cycle will assert itself and start to bring down the temperature and how will we know it when it happens?”[
**]“An excellent question. We don’t have an exact time when it will happen but we believe that it is imminent. That means long before the catastrophe the greenies call for could possibly happen. I want to assure the questioner to stop worrying. It will happen sooner than anyone expects.”

“Mr. Forinsky.”

“Mr. Milford’s remarks are as bold a lie as can be imagined. There is absolutely no evidence, indications, or scientific data to back up what he promotes. It is a supreme example of misinformation and lying.”

The public watched as Milford curled up his fists and glared at Forinsky.

“Mr. Forinsky, “Here’s an exact letter from a constituent,” Stockman said. “I’ve been a devoted follower of Ron Barrett and Audrey for many years. I have always found them to be honest, direct and giving the public the correct interpretations of global warming. Ron Barrett predicted that we are now at the point of no return. Has he changed his mind to support John Curtis? Does he really believe that Curtis has given us an honest appraisal of the weather or is he for the first time just hiding the facts and wants to support his wife?”

“That is a question that many of us have asked.” Forinsky replied. “Ron Barrett, as you have pointed out, is a very honest man and would never knowingly deceive us. As I understand his position, which he has stated openly, he accepts the possibility that the science data is not perfect. After all, no one actually predicted the precise date it would be too late to stop the burning of fossil fuels in order to avert the looming catastrophe, so 450 might not be 100% accurate, though it is most likely close.

“Thus he is putting his weight behind making this one last attempt to stop what could destroy civilization. In his opinion we have nothing to lose but it must be done immediately. Time can truly said to be of the essence. This is the entire plea of Curtis and the green movement. What do we have to lose since stopping the use of oil and gas won’t disrupt the world but possibly save us and certainly lead to a healthier environment.”

“Mr. Milford”

“I take issue with the premise that Barrett is direct and honest. For the record he has attacked totally unfairly the oil and gas companies lobbyists for only doing their duty to preserve our society. He only selects scientists who support his viewpoint. His wife’s poems, I admit, are quite emotional but tend to arouse fake emotions to support her husband. Why she is supporting Curtis is anybody’s guess. Anyway, it doesn’t surprise me that Barrett decided to support Curtis. After all, what did he have to lose?”

Brett Forinsky was clearly unset.

“Mr. Milford,” Deborah Hardy asked the next question. “How could you, watching the rising temperature year after year without any stopping and without any personal scientific background, say it’s a natural weather cycle? In addition to you, the only ones who really believe that it is natural, at least that’s what they say, are oil officials, politicians, lobbyists paid by oil, and some people who for unfathomable reasons have believed the lies over the years. Do you have any real idea of what you have done to our future civilization? Any at all? Please don’t answer this serious question by saying it’s natural weather changes. There is no evidence of that. NONE.”

“Well, that question certainly comes from a true believer. No doubt of that. I can only sympathize that someone with such a narrow view suffers so much from unnecessary fears of the future. I do hope that before long you will have good reason to change your mind when you begin to see the temperature dropping. However, I would like to leave the questioner with the understanding that weather changes, up and down, are part of every natural weather cycle since the birth of this planet. This one is no different as will eventually be seen. I sincerely hope that people in this country wise up in order to avoid so much suffering.”

“Mr. Forinsky,”

“I found Milford’s response to a perfectly reasonable question utterly unacceptable. He is condescending and forgive me if I refer to the previous question and say that his characterization of Ron and Audrey Barrett is so biased and false that I feel shamed being on the same panel with him. The Barretts are honest and deeply concerned with our world, civilization and the welfare of its citizens. They have devoted a lifetime trying to awaken the public to influence the government to stop fossil fuel use. To say that Audrey’s poems tend to arouse fake emotions is a comment beyond contempt. What is he thinking? Does this man have any genuine feelings? Doesn’t he care for his children or the children of others? Where does he think their suffering comes from if not weather change clearly predicted by the Barretts.”

Milford struggled to avoid replying to Forinsky.

“Mr. Milford, this question was directed to you by a very concerned citizen. She states that you should not answer by saying it can’t happen. Because it can, if global warming continues. If you don’t agree, then she prefers that Forinsky answers it.”

Milford hesitated but realized that he had avoided other questions, so he agreed.

“In 2100 when the sea is four, five or six feet higher and much of the coastal lands are flooded and the temperature is out of sight and continuing to rise whom are we to blame? Also what will stop it from rising even higher if we continue to burn fossil fuels and more CO2 is produced? In other words in 70 years or earlier we’ll all know that civilization is doomed. Will the world revolt? Against whom? What can anyone do? If we see this appearing say in another 30 or 40 years what should we do? Where will we all live? Where will we get water and food? What will stop the world from fighting out of desperation and frustration? Can you imagine how angry everyone will be?”

Milford was clearly puzzled over how to answer this complex problem and surreptitiously glanced at Forinsky waiting. “You understand that I don’t believe it will happen.”

“But certainly you and your colleagues have considered this possibility. Am I not right?” Ms. Hardy asked.

“Of course, we did. Well, naturally such an event would be very scary and upsetting and people would be very angry. I would be, if I were they. I would advise them to struggle to adapt to the terrible conditions and try to live the best they could. Since it would never rise above such a state there would have to be a period when people just suck it up and keep their chins up. What else could they do?”

“Mr. Forinsky.”

“That is a terrifying scenario but well within the realm of possibility if no changes are made now. The probability that the condition would worsen into the 22nd century and beyond is almost 100%. Civilization, as we know it, would be gone. There will be a transition as people travel to formerly cold climates and move en mass to try to establish a new life. They would migrate to northern Canada, Siberia, the Arctic area, Antarctica, but for most of the world it will be impossible to move and the continents will have shrunk with further flooding ahead. The anger, social unrest, violence, desperateness of much of the world’s population would compound all attempts to restore any semblance of a peaceful world. I pray to God that it never reaches that state.”

Ms. Hardy now spoke ending the debate. Gentlemen, we have decided and are aware that you had not been previously informed, which was deliberate, that each of you has up to one minute for concluding comments. In this case we will flip a coin now. The winner of the toss speaks first. Call heads or tails. Milford called heads. Forinsky said nothing. Heads came up.

“Mr. Milford.”

“It was quite interesting rehearing the same point of view that we have always heard from the green group. Nothing new came up. The same doomsday scenario if we don’t stop burning oil and gas was replayed. They continue to ignore that the entire country and world would be thrown into chaos if we ever actually did such a thing. The true science is well known that this climate problem is temporary and will soon abate. Their so-called scientists have loads of studies to show what happened millions of years ago.

“But what does that have to do with our world today. Those things happened so long ago that repeating such cycles would never happen. People need more faith that the world’s governments have continued using fossil fuels because they know that fossil fuels have nothing to do with the rising temperature.

“We know that it is hot and very uncomfortable for most people but there isn’t anything you can do about a natural weather pattern as we try to point out. I leave you with a simple statement. Listen to your gut feelings. You know that the green view is faulty and they have tried to overwhelm you with false ideas and misconceptions. Don’t be misled again at this important time. Vote against their candidates and vote for the Natural Weather Cycle candidates who will help preserve your world.”

“Mr. Forinsky,”

“Ms. Hardy and Mr. Stockman, I appreciate your giving Mr. Milford and me ample room to express our views. The conditions of today’s world reveals the early phase of the catastrophe that lies ahead. We have moved beyond needing evidence from scientists or experts. As the weather pattern has unfolded according to the almost precise script spelled out during the past 50 years and more recently by many climate leaders, such as Ron and Audrey Barrett, the greatest danger that exists now is allowing CO2 production to continue by not stopping the burning of fossil fuels, scientifically shown to be the primary cause of global warming.

“I would like to conclude my remarks by offering a prayer for our country and our world. My prayer is based on the peaceful life we seek, the removal of the dangers that lie ahead and the hope that we, as a country, can overcome the barriers that have prevented an earlier end to the use of fossil fuels. We are aware that for the first time in history the rise of CO2 is based on something that we can control. But it must be now. This is no longer a time for controversy. This may be the last time that ending the use of fossil fuels will have any influence on our future. Once we have reached the point of no return then further attempts to change our frightening future will be futile.

“We are just two weeks away from what may be one of the most important elections ever faced by our country. Do we continue the current energy policy or change it? Do we maintain the fossil fuel infrastructure or transform it to one where renewable energy dominates our energy policies. I plead with you that you go to the polls and vote to save our planet.

“You must look deeply into your heart and decide how you will vote. What legacy do you want to leave for your children and their children and all the children of the world? I pray that we are guided by truth. Thank you.

 

“Gentlemen, thank you for your participation in a most lively and informative debate. The debate is now officially ended.

 

Immediately on the completion of the debate the Internet was blazing with opinions, sides were taken who won. The overwhelming consensus indicated that Brett Forinsky had won the debate hands down. Not only did he appear more genuine but was extremely well informed on all issues, including those that came from comments by Milford who often was unable to answer questions about his own views.

Many outspoken green supporters pointed out errors in Milford’s statements and how he fudged answers. The country was astonished that Milford often had no backup for what he stated and acted with obviously feigned authority.

Several journalists speculated that Milford assumed that as long as he believed in something, it had to be true. Could a Congressman actually conjure up ideas, beliefs and even sponsor bills based on a made-up reality and then believe that proposal or new law was the truth? They pointed out many examples of such things happening in Congress going back many decades but especially when arch-conservatives dictated the laws. Cartoonists, blogs, myriads of tweets lampooned Milford often holding him up to ridicule.

The conservative party suffered widespread damage as their spokesperson utterly failed them. Milford was described as pompous, condescending, having no real interest in the health of the country or the world and a man who deserved to be “booted” from the House.

The contrast with Forinsky, who came across as honest, sincere and deeply concerned about the future was noted by many writers. In a single hour, Brett Forinsky became a household name and offers for addresses poured in. He was touted as a future great leader. Handsome, charismatic, highly intelligent, a man to watch in the coming years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 30

 

 

There was a pickup of interest in the green movement that benefited all the green candidates. The fact the President was going to speak three days later and the growing belief that he would be highly supportive of the green movement added to the luster of the debate. The green movement, buoyed by the debate, rallied behind the candidates.

Increasing outbursts of violence, social disturbances, negative advertising, and lies that attempted to blind the public to the truth, as well as the floods of ads supporting the non-green candidates brought out scorn and derision. For the moment, the green movement marched to the tune of the debate and the coming Presidential speech.

The day before the President’s scheduled speech the White House leaked that the President was going to announce his total support and commitment to stop burning fossil fuels. It was clear that he was putting his election on the line. He would order that the use of fossil fuels for energy was to be phased out.

The buzz mounted and new sides were drawn as the rumor of support came closer to reality. On Friday, October 25th at 9 PM speaking from the Oval room the President addressed the nation.

 

Good evening Friends and Fellow Citizens,

 

“Tonight I am giving a speech to the nation that may be viewed as the most important in my first term of office and as a primary determinant of my winning a second term. As individuals and as a nation we are facing a crisis of such proportion that mere words can not really describe it. It is a crisis of survival as a nation, a civilization, a world. I do not stand here with a doomsday scenario to announce. Rather it is to clearly spell out why I have embraced a policy long advocated by earlier climate scientists and more recently by that outstanding leader, John Curtis, leader of the Student Coalition. Many of our most respected candidates running for election for the House of Representatives are fully behind the need for a drastic revision of our national energy policy.

“The growing dangers of increasing global warming have been delineated more than a quarter century ago. Many were understood for well over a half century. Once Ron Barrett and his beloved wife Audrey appeared as spokespeople for the unspoken world and wrote clear articles and poems that were widely syndicated, the understanding of the impact of global warming became well known. Today in our suffocating and storm driven environment there are very few people unaware of the causes of global warming.

“The media has revealed the effects of the ongoing decline of civilization in a massive outpouring of news and commentary. We live today in a world already so different from only a quarter of century ago that few can remember the relative sense of peacefulness that once existed. The suffering in the United States parallels the suffering of the entire world. No country has escaped the ravages of global warming.

“We have been the major contributor to the causes of global warming for many decades and only recently have we taken a much lesser role in the continuing production of greenhouse gases that has caused so much worldwide suffering. So much has changed in such a short time that no one and that includes me, can hope to fully understand its effect or its future course.

“We watch fish die, coral bleach and die, jellyfish dominate large areas of the oceans, dead zones proliferate and vast areas of the world turn into deserts. Storms of increasing intensity come at will; rains never cease or else avoid large areas for months, even years. Yet, I’m told this is all just a prelude for our future unless we make that final commitment to eliminate as much as possible all greenhouse gases.

“We can control all manmade forms of carbon dioxide produced through the burning of fossil fuels, though there is little we can do to reduce the rapid increase of methane from the permafrost that exists throughout the Arctic. Our only hope here is to reduce the world’s temperature and hope that over time the permafrost will again solidify and remove this sword that hangs over our heads.

“My friends, I’m not saying anything that all of you have not read many times. No one is blind to the dangers and no one is unaware of the manmade causes that have contributed so much to our impending disaster. I stand before you because I have taken the position of stopping the production of carbon dioxide. I will base my reelection on the public’s desire to take this one essential step as the only known way to try to control the global warming that threatens us. The future of our planet is at stake and it is now time to establish a new energy infrastructure, if we are to have any possibility of saving our civilization.

“We must stop all fossil fuel burning. We must do it unilaterally and not wait for the remainder of the world to follow suit. The world has developed a deep distrust about our seriousness to control the causes of the environmental temperature increases. For many years, America has shunned participating in any short or long-term programs to reduce carbon dioxide, beginning most notoriously in 1997 with the The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations, an international treaty that set goals for industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

“We have been misled and misinformed and failed to gauge the dangers ahead and thus have become pariahs to many other countries due to what appeared to be a disinterest in climate control. Today, we are actually supplying much of the world with the very ingredients I am asking you to eliminate in our country. If the rest of the world does not follow suit then our efforts may indeed be in vain. But we have no choice. We must provide the spark and take a stand with what is right and through our actions and scientific understanding convince the world of the desperate need to take a similar course.

“We can plead and entreat but unless we first take this step our efforts will fall on deaf ears. Someday, we may all look back and say that we lost our final opportunity to reduce the impact of global warming. I do not hide that even with the world quickly stopping the use of fossil fuels the temperature will still continue to rise for many years yet.

“What we are attempting to do is to stem the potential of a true catastrophe that will topple the known world. Without changes in oil and gas use, the rise of CO2 to 850 to 1000 ppm by 2100 will be catastrophic and will lead to the inconceivable horror described by all scientists of the future leading into the 22nd century and beyond. Our civilization will be beyond repair. We must not let it happen.

“Now for the specifics of my intentions. I will not hide anything. If the public supports my approach and I am reelected, then on the first day after my inauguration I will institute a wartime effort based on national security needs to bring a rapid decrease in the use of oil and gas. With the incredible technological know-how that characterizes the United States and our skilled labor, I believe we can reduce and finally end the use of fossil fuels in six years.

“Yes, there will be much job displacement but no one will be overlooked or forgotten. Retraining for new jobs, and conversion to similar work that requires the same skills, but now will be used for developing renewable energy will be available for every worker. Retrofitting the country to accommodate an entirely new way to use renewable energy on a scale unknown to us will help create a new and vital land.

“We will all be part of the force that will not only help save the world from a catastrophe but will be participants to introduce an improved and healthier lifestyle and free our world of many of its poisons and ills.

“One final plea. Even more important than voting for me is to put into office the bona fide candidates who will promise and deliver for you a future green world. Our Congress must support the need to convert to a zero emission energy program. No one will suffer by such a conversion. Even the fossil fuel industry will benefit as they will become the natural leaders in developing an entirely new energy foundation that will be the beginning of change that we hope will spread throughout the world.

“I thank you for your attention and understanding. We are at a crossroad of such dire consequences that no words I can utter can convey my fears and yet hope for our future.

“God bless you and God bless our country and the world.”

 

The response to the President’s speech was muted and fluctuated by country location,

political parties affiliation, green voters, age of listeners. Above all, the concern of workers, those involved with energy companies, lack of genuine belief in the premise of a future catastrophe and having varying degrees of pessimism sharply influenced many parts of the country.

Overall, the press felt that the speech served the purpose of making clear the President’s agenda, if elected. Making a definite statement that he intended to actually start the process of ending fossil fuel consumption in America removed a major doubt that was overhanging the election. Whether it would facilitate his re-election remained uncertain. Several polls taken one day after his speech indicated no marked change in his support. He was still favored to win by most pollsters, but many were hedging their bet as the number of undecided voters increased by four percent.

Whether influenced by the speech or not, social unrest and violence increased. Seemingly arising spontaneously, large crowds formed everywhere that railed against the green movement. Placards, speeches, chants and many conservative blogs reiterated the growing belief that the country would be destroyed by the crazy idea of stopping the use of oil and gas.

The green movement, likewise, gathered in large groups and extolled the coming energy revolution that will bless the earth and give all people a reprieve from what appeared to be certain destruction in the coming years. Most gatherings brought police and some student guards to monitor potential outbursts of violence that frequently left injured people in its wake. Although the polls varied somewhat, the closeness of the race continued as the final pre-election week began.

 

Ron and Audrey temporarily lost contact with John who ceaselessly traveled throughout the country seeking new venues and activities to further the green cause. John maintained intimate contact with Harvard 44 and gave increasing support to students who flirted with violence but managed to maintain control. Whereas, he denounced students who overstepped the boundaries set by the Coalition and the Universities. Those involved with killings or injuring others he especially censured. He worked tirelessly to counteract the negativism generated by such aggression. Most of the country understood the level of anger expressed by the students and few blamed them for occasionally losing control.

Audrey viewed with alarm the continuing controversy overshadowing the coming election. Her conviction that we were in a dire situation and the need of the entire country turning green was so important that she studied anew the many areas that would be affected if global warming got out of control. She wrote incessantly seeking new ideas, even a new voice that might awaken hesitant voters to the dangers. Finally, she closed her mind to further input and sat before her computer and typed from her heart and fed by her fears.

 

LOSING OUR WORLD

 

Bite down hard on lips that spew a poisonous stream,

Cover your ears and heed not the lies that your future is not in danger,

Stop the pain, close out the venom,

None should be open to the nihilism of words,

No lies, no deceit, no mind-manipulation, no untruths,

Close the conduit that buries your soul.

 

Open your eyes to the cacophony of hate,

From those who care not for the earth, civilization or you.

Only fools and the fear-ridden hide from the truth,

Know it when you stand strong,

Raise your arms against the enemies of life,

You know the sound, heed it, stop it, obliterate beyond sight.

 

Man looks blindly at what he doesn’t see,

No matter his stand or the eyes that have widened,

The future seems far away, but is already here,

Do we need more deaths of the living and the unborn?

The decimation of the starving child too dead to know,

To know and believe the truth.

 

Sorry, sorry world blighted and unkempt,

Beautiful world fading to sand.

Can it be? Can we let the darkness descend?

Don’t falter, don’t cower and wait the doom.

Its breath is already upon the brow.

 

I cry as I write seeing the future that yet can’t be seen,

The oceans have darkened and smell of death,

The icebergs are gone in a fiery doom,

The skies are filled with the noxious soot

Of our very thoughts and actions that gave it wrought.

Knowing that we gave them force to bring us down.

 

Save us, O God, for we knew not our loss,

We said it can’t be and yet it was,

Today in the long shadow of our coming end,

We still shy from the light to cleanse our souls,

Awaken your child to grasp the truth.

Within you, you know what must be done.

 

Can the ocean again gleam and the skies turn bright?

Can the forest revive and the rivers flow clean?

Can the cities and towns and boroughs find life?
Can man turn from the path of his demise?

Can man become man renewed and alive?

Or will life as we know cease to exist?

In midweek just five days before the election, Audrey published her latest poem that appeared in over 600 newspapers. The following day a scintillating video burst upon the scene. So vivid and so frightening were the words and images that many people broke up in tears. Their fears fed by her eloquence overcame the recent growing complacency about global warming. It galvanized many people on the fence to reexamine their position and move to the green side. People had closed their eyes and ears to the ongoing struggle between the greens and the non-greens.

The polls began to show the increasing probability that the election of 100% green would happen. Violence intensified but behind it was the realization that the support had finally shifted to stopping fossil fuel burning. Saving civilization became a rallying cry.

For less than a day the effect of her newest poem was felt and then diminished as the anti-green movement renewed their efforts to heap ridicule upon the green electorate. Optimism alternated with gloom, fear overcame hope, doubts struggled with truths, whose truth, what truth. Parades featuring the end of our world as oil and gas ceased to power America marched alongside parades featuring the end of the world if oil and gas continued to energize America. For the small number of pivotal voters confusion still reigned.

The power of words, attempts to reeducate voters, spelling out a future covered with a scenario that was so frightening, so devastating that writers refused to address it. What future lay ahead? What to believe? Who spoke the truth? Is the end ahead? Is global warming ending? I must vote. I must believe. Election day came closer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 31

 

 

Climatologists became the latest stars as election concerns continued. Under the impetus from the greens and the non-greens clamoring to support their ideas the climate experts brought forth new data. They repeatedly computed the probable course of the rising temperature’s impact on the world. The most reliable figures included the widely varying production of greenhouse gases throughout the world.

The green side focused on more and more evidence that supported the frightening scenario of the looming disaster. The non-green groups used the new data to show how repetitive it was, nothing new coming forth, a symbol of gross deception fed to the world as truth. The Natural Weather Cycle candidates found some writers, allegedly climate experts, predicting the coming end of global warming and the return to normal. As before, the truth remained elusive to those whose lives fluctuated in a vague unclear world where anchors to reality had never found a footing.

The greens heralded the truth in the predictions and the absolute need to start the process of ending the use of fossil fuels immediately. Their message remained clear and succinct.

America’s impact on global warming with only 15% of the CO2 production had now slipped to a point that it would have little effect if the rest of world did nothing. The anti-green coalitions laughed and tried to spread derision at the green movement that was painted as antiquated and doomed to failure. Hundreds of devastating ads showed the demise of our country while the rest of the world profited by our reduced competition. Pictures flooded the Internet showing the humming, fully employed factories of Europe and Asia while America fell into decline. The anti-green movement claimed that it could lead to the end of America as a great power.

Fear arose about the danger of economic stagnation that would open us to financial disruption where the control of our country could shift to Asia and to Europe. Videos erupted on YouTube showing a stagnant country, entire industries shut down and shuttered. Towns in despair, people starving, not having money for food. The outpouring of gloom flooded America. Pictures from the great Depression resurfaced and showed the hopelessness written on the faces of millions of out of work citizens. Most citizens were aware of the attempt at mind manipulation but they were already in the green camp. Others were swayed by the overwhelming onslaught of sights of the country’s collapse.

The green forces introduced the high probability that the rest of the world was very aware of the future danger to our civilization and would quickly follow suit and stop the burning of fossil fuels. Counter ads stated explicitly that the rest of the world would do nothing? They would decide to defy America and either ignore or minimize the future dangers by continuing to use oil and gas. The public again became confused. What is the truth? Quotations from both sides supported and denied both views.

On Saturday three days before the election Ron and John presented a collaborative article for the first time, trying to further cement the slim margin of victory predicted for the green movement.

 

THE TRUTH MUST SPEAK

 

No matter what your particular political beliefs, religion, ethnic background or the language you speak, the truth must be followed if our future is to remain intact. Today we’re trying to save our civilization no matter how many people have tried to deny it. The handwriting is clear. Civilization as we know it will decline unless we act now.

We’re not blind that we may be too late, but we’ll never know. We must start and the world must follow. Or we’ll all be suffocated in a world that will destroy us. Our children will have no world at all. For now a 100% green Congress is essential. These laws can be passed with less than 100% of Congress voting for them, but we need the entire country behind this as a message to ourselves and especially to the world.

We know that no matter what we do that 550 to 600 ppm of CO2 is the minimum we can anticipate before global warming stops. Today we have 450 and it is accelerating. Even if we stopped all fossil fuels burning today it will continue for years. 600 is as far as it must go without radically changing the future. Vote with your heart. Do it for your lives, the lives of your children and children’s children. And to save the future of this planet as it is known.

The long term results of global warming if it doesn’t stop are beyond calculation. The 22nd century could eliminate many of the worlds species. By the 23rd century most of life will be gone. Can we allow this to happen? What might have been done in the past is gone. No matter how many regrets, we can’t go back. If we fully stop burning all fossil fuels here, the rest of the world will know. This is no time to point the finger of blame at the previous presidents and members Congress who fought to prevent the ending of our oil and gas and coal industries. We must not ask. What could they have been thinking?

The world is watching—another reason we need 100%. They must follow suit very quickly. We are voting not only to change our country but to set in motion changing the world. Renewable energy must be seen as sufficient and that no matter how difficult the change, it must be done. We do not know how to say this any clearer.

We have all witnessed the widespread violence and social unrest as people struggle with changes with government and country. People are often misled. No one wants to die in the suffocating heat as will happen in the future. But without a change it will happen. This is mandatory, friends, you are doing it for yourself and family. The planet does not deserve to die. We must not let it. It is our planet.

We pray to you. We plead with you. It is your world you are saving. Let no ulterior motive stop you. Your planet’s life is at stake.

 

Released in over 400 newspapers their article stirred considerable interest though it was offset by the continuing violence throughout the country. As hoped, it did stir a number of people to move from ambivalence to planning to vote green.

But it was short lived. From what seemed an inexhaustible outpouring of ads in every media, speakers rising throughout the country on street corners, town halls, some even in large stadiums sprang upon the public and once again the election edge began to shift. News spread so quickly that attitudes and beliefs could shift in minutes.

Audrey watched in dismay as her slim hope that the country would become 100% green began to fade. On Saturday night after sharing her fears with Ron she finally went to sleep. Fitfully, she tossed and uttered strange shrieks when in a moment of abject fear she awakened screaming, terrorized. Ron awakened and without words held her as she quieted down.

In a voice so quiet it seemed distant as though coming from another world, Audrey murmured, “I am so afraid that we’re not going to win and all our fears will happen. What can we do?”

Still holding her, Ron responded, “We must not give up hope. Somehow, the people will see what must be done.”

“It’s not happening,” Audrey said. “Lies are everywhere and people are confused. I understand why so many remain undecided. They wonder where their next paycheck will come from and how can they believe that our government will handle things well considering how they have bungled the climate mess for years.”

“Maybe this time is different. John has raised the awareness of most young people and most of the older population also know what he has said.”
“After all that you have done over the years, nothing has changed,” Audrey interjected. “The world’s falling apart. Wars pop up over water and food. People are scared of dying from thirst or starvation, so they kill other people. What do they care if they die fighting,” Audrey said. “So many have become convinced that they will lose their jobs if the greens win. If they elect a handful of anti-green candidates they can stop legislation from being enacted without all sorts of compromises. They’ve done it for years. And the President may water down his proposal as a compromise. I’m so afraid.”

“I think this time the President will remain steady and keep to his campaign promises.” Ron said attempting to reassure her.

“But honey, it’s all been based on getting a 100% green House.”

Ron was silent weighing her fears and knowing that she could be right. Was he wrong siding with John to put so much behind a 100% green House. Why didn’t they realize the massive amounts of money that would be poured into counter arguments. Oil is not going to give up without a fight. Could oil win again? Why are they so blind? Can there be that many people who don’t care about the future or who still don’t believe what is happening? How much hotter does it have to be to make everyone believers. His doomsday predictions flooded into his mind and he closed his mind to what he saw.

“It just can’t happen,” he finally muttered.

Without another word, Audrey rose from bed and said, as she was leaving the bedroom, “I must write down what I fear.” Almost without thought she wrote as though the nightmare had invaded her soul.

PROLOGUE

Today I awakened with a nightmare. All I could see was blackness. I thought I had become blind. I awakened terrified. But I knew that behind the blackness I had been able to see something, something was there. Something I had lost.

I immediately knew what it meant. The poem wrote itself. It just poured from my soul. It was my final plea to you to make a change or we will face blackness in the future.

Behind the science and predictions of my husband and other scientists remain a possibility that the climate disaster could still be averted. For years our pleas went unanswered. Today, they must be answered. It is all we have left. Our hope and prayers and the radical change needed to set in motion the actions that might save our future is what remains.

 

WHERE IS OUR FUTURE WORLD?

 

The world turned black, gone, beyond sight. Gone.

What happened to the world that was.

O blackness, blackness fly from me,

Open my eyes. I must see one final time,

The future that must not be.

See what we have done to the beautiful earth forsaken by all and left to die.

The planet we love trembles at the ending ahead.

 

Dear God, save us, I pray. Can you forgive us for what we did?

We saw it and tightly closed our eyes.

Are we now dying, our due at last?

Has that become our day to await the throes of death?

Like the child gasping her last breath.

My eyes sees so much that must not be seen,

The ocean wildly surging onto land.

So much buried, so much water.

Sink, sink the cry is heard, as cities go under, no more to be seen.

And the water reaches further as day follows day and year follows year.

 

My eyes refuse to look when all is gone,

No fish swim, no prey or predators to fight for ground,

Man grows no corn or wheat and starves under curdling heat.

What have we done? what have we done?

Why are we waiting, waiting for what, for what, I scream?

It is too late to wait.

 

The earth cries in great despair, give back my beauty,

Stop the avalanche of horrors. Stop your killing ways.

You brought it on yourself, the sin is what you own.

You did it. You did it. You are the digger of your grave.

Cry into your heart as you lie down to die,

You have suffocated your soul.

 

I never believed that it would come to the day we would all say goodbye.

Goodbye to what, what is there left.

We have turned the earth to a molten mass.

I can’t even dream, only blackness exists.

My God, my God, where have you gone?

We are your children, we cry in shame.

 

We are the people who came from you,

And we destroyed the jewel in your crown.

See what we’ve done to your earth.

Strike us down we deserve to die,

We’ll all be dead, no life left to even start anew.

 

O dream, why do you sicken my mind?

Once there was hope and now there is none.

Do I have to repeat, I can’t get it from mind,

Today my dream is of blackness and death,

Twisted into fiery storms and crashing waves that cover the earth.

The trees have all gone and flowers are dead.

The earth strewn with bones from wars, no water, food and so much sun.

 

I have been given the sight that so many fear,

I see up close what lies ahead.

I look at the babies no tears left to cry, parched lips to dry to open, wait for the end.

Their eyes so vacant smiles all gone.

They lie so still, they lie in dread.

 

I once hugged the trees that are no more.

The forests are dying or already dead,

Prairies no longer exist where once they were.

Predators of evil are there instead.

It will soon be too late and we’ll never forgive.

 

My friends I plead, don’t listen to lies, war mongers of hate,

Turn away from those who only deceive.

Make a stand, speak your voice, make it heard.

We can make a change.

 

The dreams I’m having don’t have to be,

But unless we start there will be no years to change.

Can we clean the ocean and clean the sky and clean the soil and turn back the seas? Mankind can rise again to show might in a world turned green,

Where the storms go away and gentle rain returns,

Or are we doomed to live a future in blight.

 

The sun beats down endlessly never stops.

What has happened to our dream that once we were free,

Now only nightmares that we call our dreams.

It is so black, that’s all I see.

I tell you the truth what it will be,

Unless we makes a final change today.

Without change, hope is gone and won’t be.

 

I want this poem to end but I know not how.

I’ve said it all before so many times.

Today seems different for words may not come again,

There may be no world to save and no dreams of life.

When life has gone by the folly of man.

 

I can no longer beg. I have no tears left.

The world is in your hands. Do not let it go away.

My friends, we live together.

What is our world to be?

One more chance remains.

Seize it, I pray. I pray and pray that you finally see.

 

This is my final plea before we cast our vote,

A vote for life or a vote for death.

 

EPILOGUE

 

Tomorrow when you go to the polls vote with your heart and soul. This is not the time to wonder how the government or the rest of the world will react or what they will do. Each of us must stand for what is right. If the country totally supports the change the world will take notice. The scientists in other countries are as fully aware of the future as the American scientists. Their governments know. They have waited. America must act.

Please vote. Our world is at stake.

Finishing the poem, Audrey went back to bed but was unable to sleep. Looking at her sleeping husband she quietly rose again, dressed and went for a walk as dawn was awakening the earth. A slight haze wrestled with clarity until the sun shone strong. Audrey looked at the pink clouds spreading across the sky heralding the morning’s arrival as another day began.

She returned home, reread her poem, placed a copy on Ron’s desk, lay down and slept. When she awakened, Ron was standing quietly, unmoving, watching her. On seeing her smile he reached down and kissed her. “Your poem tore me apart,” he said. “I cried until no more tears would flow. You must give it to the world today. It will change the election and bring victory to all of us.”

 

Back at her computer she sent a copy to her design video team at Stanford and told of the urgency to put a video together quickly so that it could be viewed the next day, Monday, the day before the election. Next she sent it to the New York Times, accompanied by an email alerting them to the urgency of publication of the poem for the following day.

 

On Monday morning her poem of blackness sprang into the world. A hurried video was also uploaded to YouTube. At first only blackness filled the screen with the faint vision of Audrey softly, sorrowfully reciting her poem. Through the blackness were faint visions of a world on fire, parched and broken land covering much of the earth, floods and buried cities everywhere.

As the poem came to the end, a glow so faint it could be missed began to appear and slowly, very slowly, the blackness lifted. With her final words the sun appeared. Brilliant light shrouded Audrey’s head. The sun had begun to shine again.

 

Around the world people wept as they read the words of despair from the beloved Audrey. The video gave rise to images of such annihilation of the future that many people, unable to witness the bleak and deathlike world that was no more, turned their eyes. Can she be right? Are we in the long shadow of the coming end? Have those who lied taken away our life and turned the world dark and filled with demons.

The fight to change the future brought out the hate and fear and violence. The voices of students fighting for their lives, of untold people of all ages raising their fists and declaring their allegiance to a faint hope that man can be renewed and alive once again.

No one was deceived by the hated people who stopped progress and lied and put a blanket on truth. As Monday came to an end violence across the lands intensified. Desperate people were fighting for a life that was over and would never reappear in their lifetimes. They held on to a vague belief that killing was now the only message and the salve that would soothe their wounds.

Their souls were damaged and they cried as they brought death and suffering to countless people. But the people fought back and damned them and placed a curse on their heads in their final act of retribution. Fewer and fewer people shied away from truth and light.

 

The day of the election came. Every voting station was protected by police and adults who had trained to work with the police. Aiding the law enforcement agencies were the vast number of student coalition members many voting for the first time and high school students too young to vote. They were the young, but who carried the voice of hope. They would be among the primary sufferers as the century continued and the temperature continued to rise. Most would be alive as the 21st century came to an end.

Voters came out in extremely large numbers. As the day wore on, polls taken of voters leaving the voting booths indicated that the green movement was gaining unusual numbers exceeding expectations. By 9 PM the President was declared the winning candidate, but not until 11 PM were all green House candidates and all Senate candidates declared winners. The country had gone 100% green.

The President’s acceptance speech was brief but very clear. He had been reelected by 56% of the vote and winning the electoral college vote in all 50 states. Although in some states the margin of winning for green House candidates was slim; in others it was overwhelming. Every state had voted green.

The President, clearly elated over his victory, spoke slowly and deliberately, making his first declaration to follow the agenda outlined in the pre-election period. “The

overwhelming national victory of the green movement is an absolute mandate that we follow the path to stop the production of fossil fuel burning. The bill to reduce the use of oil and gas to zero within the next six years has already been set in motion.

“As the first act in my new administration, I will sign into law the bill that will make this country the first major industrialized country free of carbon dioxide production. It will be totally supported by our new Congress, both House and Senate. The majority of non-reelected senators will also support it. The bill will consider job training and prevent anyone losing a job without getting compensation. The government will provide adequate funds for all. We now have a unique opportunity to revitalize America, and not just stop the use of oil, gas and coal. By restoring confidence in our country’s vitality, we will do more than just stop global warming. We will be the generation that stopped the complete downfall of civilization. Even when we have reached zero emissions, it won’t

automatically stop the temperature rising. But we will have stopped the production of carbon dioxide that would have destroyed the future for our children and grandchildren and children into the 22nd and 23rd centuries.

I pray to God that it is not too late and we can truly prevent a catastrophe in the coming years. We have work to do and we will do it. We will provide the skills and efforts to make this happen. The American people have mandated it and they will initiate the beginning of a true awakening and resurgence of this country and eventually the entire world.”

 

Two days after his overwhelming victory at the polls, the President, surrounded by the VP, and other Congressional dignitaries, signed the first bill that set in motion the ending of the burning of fossil fuels. The full endorsement of the President and Congress to create a wartime effort to change the energy infrastructure and make renewable energy the primary source supplying the nation’s complete energy needs was signed into law on January 22, 2031, two days after the inauguration of the president’s new term and backed by the 100% green Congress.

 

Watching on television, Ron, Audrey and John smiled grimly, acknowledging that the battle to save civilization was only beginning. Ahead were the implementation, the support of the remainder of the world, rapidity of change, future of methane, and the weather changes still to come as the greenhouse gases climbed inexorably toward CO2 550-600 ppm and three to four degrees Celsius. These three people silently prayed that reaching those levels of CO2 and global temperature would mark the end of global warming and the end of the cataclysmic danger to our planet. Yet they knew that the pain and suffering yet to be felt as the temperature continued to soar and the oceans rise would try the souls of all humans. The final question that awaited an answer would be unanswered for a number of decades. Had they started the movement toward zero emissions in time?

####

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, I would appreciate your taking a moment to leave a review at your favorite retailer. Marvin Berenson

 

 

 

ABOUT MARVIN BERENSON

 

Throughout my life, I have been devoted to all areas of creativity and tasted the intriguing arousal from sculpting, painting, composing music and especially writing. Although I have written during my entire adult life it is only in the past 20 years that I have settled into more extensive writing, both fiction and nonfiction. I have a deep dedication to creativity, personal freedom and self-direction. My belief in overcoming negativity, finding paths for a positive and fruitful life through the influence of love and the power of the human spirit lie at the heart of my books.

I live with my wife, Irene, in Walnut Creek, California. Together we share the love and friendship of six children and eleven grandchildren.

 

 

 

OTHER BOOKS BY MARVIN BERENSON

To be published by Shakespir

 

Fiction

 

The World Beyond Time

The Search for Arthur Kingsley

Woodson’s World

The Twin’s Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

 

A number of people reviewed The Tipping Point to help me determine how I could improve the readability of a novel laden with scientific facts. I was determined to open eyes and minds to the increasing dangers. Among those who offered ideas to help me clarify concepts were Wayne Marcus, BJ Golik, and Carol Giantonio,

One person was absolutely essential to the writing and completion of this book. Irene, my beloved wife, was my primary editor, consultant, and advisor. She was unrelenting and showed no quarter. She is an excellent writer and her knowledge of grammar alone made her indispensable.

The date was December 5, 2015 when I finished the book having interrelated science and fiction. The atmospheric CO2 for the week of November 22-28, 2015 was 400.37 ppm.

I wrote the story to take place in the world of 2030 with the hope that in 2015 we would take the first steps to stop the burning of fossil fuels. Waiting for 2030 is folly and likely too late. The individuals I have followed are pivotal in the environmental fields especially in the area of global warming. Among them three stand out: Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Joe Romm and his great blog, Climate Progress, which is a must for anyone interested in understanding climate control.

These leaders are very dedicated and devoted to pursue the truth. Individually and as a group they will pursue changing facts and alert us to significant changes. Now their combined knowledge clearly points to a cataclysmic endpoint unless the burning of fossil fuels is reduced and ended. The urgency of governments and people to fully understand the extent of the danger ahead and to initiate changes in our use of energy can’t be overstated.

This book is dedicated to a future that heals, where the skies become clear, the water clean and the sources of food and drink abundant and healthy. How can any rational person gamble that global warming will someday just go away and our planet will survive intact and civilization will rejoice? No rational person would ever gamble with his life, health, home without insurance. You don’t wait until your home burns down to buy insurance You don’t buy life insurance to protect your family after you have died or attach a seat belt after the crash.

Heed the truth. Act on it. Together we can save our world.

 

 

 

 


The Tipping Point: The Year 2030

Global warming threatens our world. Never before in man’s recorded history or for millions of years stretching deep into the past has the threat of annihilating our grand civilization been so evident. Most climatologists and scientists worldwide supported by replicated computer studies have verified the accuracy of the dangers of rising CO2. A CO2 level of 450 ppm and a two degree Celsius temperature elevation are recognized as potential pivotal levels when the point of no return may be reached. Although the characters are all fictional the material and facts presented about the environment and global warming are completely scientific. The book is written as a novel to facilitate easier accessibility to the far-reaching dangers facing our nation and world. Many signs and concerns of the increasing CO2 and temperature, already evident in 2015, are discussed. Included are: ocean acidification, desertification, super storms, rising seas, droughts, unbearable heat, the potential of methane to set in motion unstoppable global warming, misinformation revealing individuals and groups who are both open deniers and hidden deniers, the population explosion and the feared tipping point, making further attempts to control weather useless. The Tipping Point: The Year 2030 starts with the two preeminent leaders of the green movement, Ron and Audrey Barrett facing a personal crisis as they react to failure in their 18 years’ effort to halt the increasing level of atmospheric CO2. Ron, appears to accept defeat, leading his wife, Audrey, wanting to continue her fight, to join John Curtis, a young leader who now heads the powerful National student organization, The Student Coalition for Climate Control. John strives to turn the Coalition into a fighting force to sway the government to finally take a stand to prevent the further rise of CO2. Increasingly angry and aggressive, the young college students are aroused to fight for a livable future. The story faces the long odds of converting lawmakers, the oil industry and other deniers of the impact of global warming to finally stop the burning of fossil fuels, long known as the human source of the rising CO2. By supporting John, Audrey has given him wide credibility and stature. She uses their closeness to persuade John to convince the young people to turn their aggression and anger to a peaceful pursuit to attempt to convert the coming presidential election into a great victory by electing a fully green Congress and President. Mounting civil unrest develops as the oil industry and reactionary Congressional representatives fight the green movement. Paid thugs, fearful citizens, people dreading a national calamity if the oil infrastructure is dismantled, attack them. Increasing violence leads to injuries and deaths to students and attackers. For the first time The United States takes the lead to control greenhouse gas production hoping that the world’s governments join forces in an attempt to save civilization. As Election Day nears, many voters remain uncertain whether to vote green or non-green. Electing a 100 % green President and Congress is crucial to stopping the burning of fossil fuels and to position the United States as a leader among world governments in fighting global warming. The green movement must win.

  • Author: Marvin Berenson
  • Published: 2017-09-13 21:20:20
  • Words: 100664
The Tipping Point: The Year 2030 The Tipping Point: The Year 2030