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Climate Change Ballad Number 1

The story of 35000 walruses crowded together on an Alaska beach because of the disappearance of Arctic ice distressed me as I’m sure it did you. I don’t know if my Climate Change Ballad really helps the situation, but it was the only response I could come up with in the moment.

 

In the western U.S.
On the Puget Coast Sound
The walruses play
Where the oysters abound

They dive to the bottom
Then swim on their backs
Where they float into shore
To eat their small snacks

Of oysters, and mussels
Or plankton and snails
Which their friend, Captain Tony,
Sets out in large pails.

For Tony loves oysters
And mussels and such
He eats what he catches
And doesn’t take   much.

In April one year,
Maybe two-oh twenty-four
The walrus Queen, Olga,
Swam up to the shore.

She slapped on the sand
And gave a great shout.
“Tony! Why are there no
Tasty oysters about?”

Walruses crowded together on beach

Walruses crowded together on beach

“I know,” Tony wept.
“I know all too well.
The acidic ocean
Destroyed all their shells.”

“The ocean’s acidic?”
Olga wept bitter tears.
“How did this happen?
How soon will it clear?”

“Carbon,” Tony sighed.
“We burned too much fuel
In coal and in wood
But above all in oil.

“Carbon in air
Falls down to the ground
It pours down in rain
Right into the Sound.”

“A continent floats
Out in the south seas
The size of two Texas’
And full of disease.

“It’s where bottles and diapers
And plastic decay
Into one giant island
That grows every day.

“This island, Plastarctica,
Almost all life rejects:
No birds, no more fishes
Just lots of insects

“Are all that can live
In the tar and the waste
Those birds that land there
Die in pain and in haste.

Plastarctica

Plastarctica

“Oh, no,” Olga wailed
And gave a loud cry.
“No fishes, no oysters,
My babies will die.

“You must clean the ocean
There’s much work to do
Get rid of that carbon
We’re all counting on you.”

So Tony got cracking.
He called all his friends.
They studied the oceans;
They published the trends.
They wrote to the Congress
Explaining the science:
“We’re killing the planet
Due to carbon reliance!

“We see every day
It’s getting much hotter
Himalayan ice
Is turning to water.”

“Ridiculous man,”
Was the answer he got.
“There’s no climate change;
That’s all tommy-rot!”

The priests shouted loudly
“You all are effete!
You’re part of the atheist
Leftist elite!”

Captain Tony tried harder.
“You can still drive your Lexus.
Just pay more for gas
And pay higher taxes.

“Don’t subsidize oil
Use solar and wind.
Ride buses and trains.
Go by bike when you can.”

“Higher taxes, you mad man!”
The CEO’s shouted.
“We need bigger profits!
It’s what we’re entitled.”

“Pay more for bottles?”
The public all screamed.
“Buy cheap and discard—
It’s America’s dream.”

Next year Himalayan
Ice came barreling down.
A billion Chinese
And Indians drowned.

The Florida waters
Rose up ten feet high.
The people fled inland
So they could stay dry.

There was less food to eat,
Less water to drink.
No place to stay cool,
Birds and trees grew extinct.

“God’s punishing us
For believing in science.
Only the Bible
Is there for reliance,”

The ministers said
From every old creed.
“Turn to prayer, turn to Scripture,
But don’t give up greed.”

Meanwhile the armies
Gathered for battle.
With less food to eat
Their sabres all rattled.

Who knows which country
First dropped the big bomb,
But soon they all followed
And a great giga-ton

Of nuclear ash
Fell to the ground.
People burned, children died
And in Puget Sound

Queen Olga floated
Not to play; she was dead.
Her body grew bloated;
On her children she bled.

Captain Tony sat quietly
Out by the ocean.
His friends gathered round him
To find a solution

To nuclear winter.
There was little to do,
But wait ‘til it lifted
Say in Thirty-oh Two.

But in Texas and Egypt
In Chile and Britain
In their various pulpits
The clerics all threatened:

“Who caused this disaster
If not folk in science?
This shows that they
Treated our God with defiance!”

The people responded
As if in one voice,
“Kill Captain Tony!
He’s left us no choice!”

They created big fires
Out of wood chips and oil
And soon Captain Tony
Was brought to the boil.

Cap'n Tony burned at the stake

Cap’n Tony burned at the stake

“Now that he’s gone
With his atheist elite
God will reward us
With more food to eat!”

But the Divine Justice
Gave no quick answer
To famine, pollution
And fast-growing cancer.

For thousands of years
The planet seemed dead
Humans fought rats and roaches
Over rare bits of food.

Now and again
In the midst of the sludge
A poet would reach out
To learn ancient knowledge

But the Kochs and their ilk
Were still hoarding wealth
They bought off the rulers
They did it by stealth

And roused up the rabble
Whatever the creed
To hunt and stone poets
And cheer while they bled.

Slowly but surely
Radiation decayed
Birds re-emerged
A few walruses played

Out in the waters
Near old Puget Sound
Where occasionally now
A new oyster was found.

And more slowly still,
Despite threats of violence
Brave women and men
Re-committed to science.

Captain Tony’s nth grandchild
A bright kid called LuAnn
Studied protons and neutrons,
And even the muon.

While off on the tundra
Her cousin Guilffoyle
Was shooting the wolves
While drilling for oil.

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