The following poem is excerpted from “ The Rueful Hippopotamus”, an anthology of light verse by the present author, published by ByD Press and available on Amazon:
What will they say of us when we are gone,
When it dawns on them all that their grandparents knew
(As they wrestle with flooding, starvation and storms),
Of the turmoil their world would be struggling through?
What will they think of us (selfishly set
Upon motors and holidays, easily bought)
And the choking pollution discharged in the air
We contribute to blithely with scarcely a thought?
Will they wonder at pineapples flown from Hawaii
While the frost and the snow are still thick on the ground?
Fresh flowers from Colombia, well out of season,
At a cost to the planet, unseen but profound?
Will they say? Our grandparents, whom we still remember,
Knew that the pole-ice was melting away.
They heard the debates about currents and oceans,
But greeted each fact with a passive dismay.
They knew in their hearts that some real sacrifice
Was required, some remedial money and labour.
They said the right things, but still hoped against hope
That appropriate restraint would commence with their neighbour.
They worried a lot about hurricanes, storms,
And the lot of the seals and the few polar bears.
But they sighed with relief when the skeptics said “Whoa,
It won’t happen, (at least, not for fifty-odd years).”
Don’t worry, they said, keep the growth rolling on.
Keep spending and wasting, don’t take the full brunt.
The grand-kids will have to shape up or ship out;
For if it’s an issue it’s tough to confront.
We agree there’s a problem. Solutions are hard.
The science is sound and now fully attested.
But big money talks, we’re needing the income,
And the interests? Well, you can guess, they are vested.
Our grandchildren will say, “So the power plants belched on.
And at some point the balance just toppled and tipped,
Mother Nature triumphant is taking Her toll,
And our wings and our science are thwarted and clipped.
Now the sea levels rise and the lowlands are swamped.
There are millions of homeless of every race.
And nations once stable are riven with warfare
And death stalks the Earth at a gathering pace.
Fresh water’s a problem, high prices of food,
And flooding at unusual times of the year.
With business disrupted and jobs on the line,
People are nervous, distracted with fear.
Southern Europe’s becoming a desert with sand;
Its desperate people are trekking up north
Joined by North Africans, starving and sick,
Who’ll be turned back or halted at gunpoint henceforth.
Yes, we curse the short-sighted, the venal, the blind,
Who carelessly caused us this terrible plight,
Who lived comfortable lives in a state of denial
And whose gifts to the world were, in retrospect, slight.
Some were bought and created those bogus statistics;
They twisted the science, unconscionably lied.
Some bullied the serious people who warned them
And none had the courage and faith to decide.
Man will react, if at all, in a crisis,
When the ambitious and greedy have backs to the wall.
Now speeches and meetings are all we can offer.
I apologize, kids, for us all – to you all.