I am of the age where if I came to a stream, felt thirsty, could belly up to it and scoop up a refreshing drink of cool clear clean water. No one I know has been able to do that for the last 50 years, even in remote mountain streams.
The changes that have occurred in our environment are man-made, not so much by individuals, though we have all probably done some polluting, but primarily by industry and extraction or ores and fossil fuels and our use of what got taken from the earth and how it was left behind to bleed, like Tar Creek.
We are experiencing the effects of extreme weather. This season for us, it is rain, copious amounts. With all we have had, my soybean field has not been planted, the garden outside my barn has not been planted. The 80 acre field that went to blackberries, which I mowed into rows to make lemonade as they say of too many lemons! But the rains came so quickly I could not continue mowing between the rows and to pick I slosh along through the tall grass prairie that has grown up between the rows. Heavy rains knock off the ripest berries before they can be picked.
This is what climate change can do, changing the patterns of rain and drought and allowing fewer crops to even be planted, forcing people to seek refuge to places they believe they will be able to survive. Where crops they believe are still growing. Drought has dried up the once plentiful countries in Central America. And the US is experiencing the first wave of people seeking to survive. There will be more as our planet continues to change and become more inhospitable.
I know a double-crosser, or a border crosser. He was recommended to me after that big ice storm when the weight of the ice broke down all the trees from here to yonder. It also collapsed barns, two of mine went down. He did fix my barns, all by himself, jacking up first one segment, and then the next, went to the field to cut just the right size trees for sturdy posts to use available resources and help save the cost of new lumber. He spoke little English, but some and as he got to know us more, he began to communicate his stories. How he got to America, and how he went back to Mexico to visit his family and then come back across the river. I grew up in Texas and that river was of course the Rio Grande and people who crossed that river, were called the derogatory term "Wet Backs" because they literally got in the water to cross and got wet. That is the image we saw in the news this week, the young father and his two year old daughter drown in that river.
My family used to take vacations in the summer and we did Texas, went to the gulf to swim in the ocean, and San Antonio to see the Alamo. One summer when I was probably seven my mother bought me a painted wrap around skirt and the cute little white blouse to go with it. Wearing it we drove to Brownsville and then crossed into the border town in Mexico to go shopping. There at an outdoor market, I got separated from my parents and was shuffled out by the shopkeeper and found myself standing with perhaps 50 other children or more all my size, all, brown like me, but speaking Spanish asking the adult shoppers for money. They had their hands out, but I did not. It was a profound experience, being there without my parents, which was probably only a few minutes, but one etched in my mind for a lifetime. I can only imagine what those dear children are experiencing now, separated from their parents or adult caretakers, separated with the other children. I will never forget when my parents found me and hope they each one are able to be reunited with their families soon.
We are not the only ones seeing these images and learning about the plight of those children and separated families. Our children and those all over the world are seeing these images and understand the urgency to do something. They get this and are organizing as environmental activists. They see the future we have created for them and they are not liking it.
While we have this time together on this one precious earth we share, let's do what we can to change our ways to conserve and protect our resources and influence policymakers too. We will celebrate the Youth Activists Kit Waters is training this week at LEAD Agency and know we can give it up to them knowing they have the skills needed to meet their changing world.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim