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Climate Change Resolved

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“Now you resemble nothing so much as the fatted calf you once sacrificed by the countless hecatombs to placate your imaginary gods.”

The controversy continues. Are we having climate change and/or global warming? Are humans responsible in any way? Is the weather just fluctuating a bit, or are we on the threshold of the sixth great extinction? I thought an Homeric visitation might help clarify.

THE GREAT MOTHER VISITS

The white curtains billowed and snapped at the open window. Nestor sat up in bed and stared. Had a sea breeze or his departing nightmare disturbed the fabric? He flung his sheets aside and hurried to the window, searching in the rocky promontory beyond for the stony feminine visage in his dream.

“Heir to the will and the wealth of Ulysses,” it had greeted him, “the peaceful passing prophesied by Teiresias is not to be.”

Nestor turned and looked back at the headboard adorned with carved figures from the Odyssey, none of which resembled the rugged countenance of his visitor. He had not recognized her and yet he knew her, and she had responded in kind. His memory of the encounter was vivid:

“Ah,” she said, “my beauty was once so great as to make any thinking man’s knees tremble, but your eyes were faithless, and now the reckoning has come. It is human suffering that produces the stories you love best, so tell the bards to make ready.” The moss green eyes of the powerful face did not blink.

“Listen now as I name all the ways in which you have dishonored your mother,” she went on. And then she began to enumerate her injuries: the body scraped, penetrated, and ravaged in pursuit of wealth and ease; the soil exhausted; air and water fouled; on and on. Having heard it before, Nestor’s gaze wandered.

“Look at me,” she commanded.

“In deciding what is,” she continued, “you have named only human life as sacred, yet your skill in healing it has never equaled your capacity to destroy it. Your bellicose ways unchecked, they will spell your doom even before I do.” The harsh voice grew louder.

“You revere so your own art and your inventions, and yet you do not acknowledge or protect the beauty and genius I created for you to emulate. Everything you see you imagine to be yours for the taking or the taming.

“You have bred with less discrimination and more speed than the rabbit or the mouse you disdain but in which I am well pleased,” she went on angrily. “You have outdone the locust in the way you devour the abundance I meant to be shared by all. Now you resemble nothing so much as the fatted calf you once sacrificed by countless hecatombs to placate your imaginary gods.”

The room seemed to rumble with building fury. “You have dishonored my hospitality and all the gifts I have so generously provided so that now all life on earth is at risk. You did not see the frown deepening in my troubled face nor feel the heat of my rising anger. Since power is the thing in this world you respect most, it is time that you bear witness to all I have held in check.” Nestor reached to still the bedside table as the floor rocked.

“And as the fires burn, the waters rise, and all manner of winds howl, run if you will to those sanctuaries erected to your spiritual pride. Hide there as the ash and molten rock of my outraged soul erupt,” she rasped. “Kneel in these warring sanctuaries–for you must war over everything–and pray for protection. But note that I make ruins among all.”

Then the stony visage seemed to rush his face and consume all the world as the voice thundered one last time. “Clasp your hands in prayer and raise your voices in supplication to the King of Heaven if you choose, but know one thing. It is I who reign here, and I have had enough!”

Nestor trembled in his sheets in memory of the visitation. Surely it was only a dream that would fade as the sun rose higher. The curtains billowed again. A pigeon landed in the window and peered into his room, red eyes seeming to look straight into his own. Then it turned around on pink feet and took off, dropping ballast on the sill.

 

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