Swimming Against the Rising Tide

It never feels like summer starts until the first time I go to the beach. To stand nearly naked and heavy from winter on the water’s edge, wade awkwardly into the shallows, dive under the first cold wave, taste first salt, surface and dive again to reach the calmer waters beyond, floating there until water and skin become the same temperature — this is the best way I know to belong again, body and soul, to some larger part of the planet, not just the city, not just the job. But it’s already August, and I still haven’t gone swimming.


I teach, so I spent May reading student papers. When the school year ended and I caught up on the news, California was burning, Alaska melting and the Northeast soaking. The 2014 National Climate Assessment report explained that what we’ve been thinking of as the future is happening now. Then scientists announced that the West Antarctic ice sheet had begun to split apart, so the rising of ocean waters was pretty much irreversible.


The National Climate Assessment also argued that cutting emissions would still mitigate costs substantially, but Gallup reported that 25 percent of Americans were sure all this had nothing to do with greenhouse gases. Among evangelical Christians, it was 58 percent.  MORE

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