I had a second date last night with a guy who works in conservation. I said I take it back about the global warming. I don't really think it's happening. Because it's really cold in DC right now.
We went out for the first time last week, and we were talking about his work, and I asked, "Is global warming really that big a deal?"
"I just wonder, so all the ice melts and the planet becomes uninhabitable. But does it all matter that much?"
"Um, only if you care about humans. And critters."
"I think it's hubris to think it's so important that humans last forever. Does it matter if we last the next gazillion years or not?"
"Maybe not. But I think it does."
"And say you don't procreate. If you don't have progeny to worry about...And anyway, even if you do, they'll be dead by the time it gets really bad. Right?"
"I do see what you're saying, but..."
"Don't get me wrong. I walk to work. I take public transportation. I recycle. I'm not running around trying to make things worse."
"You just can't decide if it matters that much in the long term."
I didn't say any of this antagonistically, and of course he understands I am not driving around in a Hummer or personally felling huge swathes of the rain forest. Just as I understand that if you have gone to the trouble of getting your doctorate and dedicating your career to making the planet sustainable for humans and critters, clearly you think it's pretty important.
I repeated this conversation to my new/old friend M, who said that his 5-year old and I approach global warming in the same way.
"How so?" I asked.
Turns out his son was delighted that it was warm last Saturday. He told his son that it was actually bad that it was warm, because of global warming.
"Global warming," he said, "is bad."
"Why is global warming bad?"
He was trying to explain. Then he thought of a perfect example. They had recently gone to the zoo and looked at the polar bears.
"Well, one thing that might happen is that polar bears might lose their homes because they live on ice and the ice might melt."
"But I'm not a polar bear."