I heard something the other day that made me start worrying about the old age of my unborn great-grandson.
And I don’t mean Social Security or the national debt or the cost of false teeth in the future when the wee ones of today become the elders of tomorrow.
I mean the temperature of the world in which he will be living. I mean the likelihood that the alleged Chicken Littles among us are correct that global warming will be reaching its peak by the end of this century.
Normally, those of us in the most selfish generation don’t worry our old bald heads and our sagging bosoms about what might plague the world at the end of this century in 2099. That’s 86 years from now. Ours is not a generation that is famous for worrying about younger generations. We have our hands full worrying about our own needs – our meds, our capital gains taxes, our tea party dues.
But word just came to me of another blessed event in the family. “It’s a boy,” said the email from a grandson and his wife.
Actually, it’s more like the beginning of a boy. He isn’t born yet. The news seems strange to a person like me who was born before the development of ultra-sound, that electronic window into a woman’s womb.
Count me among those who still prefer not opening presents until Christmas morning, not being told how a movie ends before I see it and not ruining the traditional birthing-day surprise of whether it’s a boy or a girl.
Some of these recent baby customs are a tad strange. For instance, it has become the smarmy practice among giddy couples expecting a baby to announce that “we are pregnant.”
Not so. She is pregnant. You, sir, are merely responsible for her condition.
Granted, you, a well-intentioned hubby, will play your part. You will help with the housework. You will ignore and forgive any chemically induced crabbiness. And you will fetch whatever bizarre foods she craves, be they pickles or raspberry licorice.
Pregnancy is like the marriage ceremony itself. In both cases, the female of the species is the center of attention.
Which brings me back to the question of whether people who will be long dead by the time global warming reaches its peak should concern themselves now with what might happen.
Many of those little folk who will populate the next century are already among us. That new member of my family need live only until he is 86 to experience the full unpleasantness of the high heat forecast for the end of this century.
Of course, the odds are quite high that a child born this year will live to be 86. In fact, it is probably safe to say, given the march of modern medicine, that most children born today will still be around to experience what we don’t do now to prevent a nasty new climate.
That is not something the elders of today can ignore even if they don’t live to see it. People they know and love will be a part of it. That next great-grandchild, for instance.
If I live to be 86, he will be 11. And he will have the moral right before I check out to look me in the eye and ask why I am ignoring his future well-being.
So I say to my fellow seniors, as we complete our final rotations around the Earth, that it is thee and me that the 86-year-olds of the future will curse if we don’t get this right. When it comes to the gathering storm of global warming, we are all pregnant.Bill Hall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501