Sunday, April 27, 2008
Fire and Ice, by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Today’s prompt addresses the end of the world and this poem popped into my head. It was assigned to memorize in Junior High in the days before it was renamed Middle School. There was an alternate poem that was assigned which is the one I learned (since everyone else had picked Frost which was the shorter poem). I was generally determined to go against the flow back in those days. I wound up learning Fire and Ice as well since I had to hear it recited 10 times by my peers.
With my current fears about Global Warming, I wonder if the world will end not in fire or ice, but in liquid water. I used to ponder the fate of California when the San Andreas Fault would give way and send Los Angeles and neighbors back into the ocean. Now I ponder Manhattan, Los Angeles and many other major metropolitan areas underwater, kind of like the scene in Planet of the Apes when the hero finds the Statue of Liberty half buried in sand.
Of course, Global Warming will not end the planet, it will merely reshape it. We humans will migrate north to a warm and temperate inland Alaska, for example. There may be fewer humans and larger deserts but people will survive and continue to spoil our planet. People my age grew up during the Cold war and worried about nuclear weapons pointed at major cities in the U.S. We watched movies and read novels of post-Apocalyptic eras. A similar topic came up in conversation with my older son just a few days ago as he is currently reading Brave New World. He found this story less violent than a nuclear apocalypse but nonetheless representing a frightening future.
Nowadays we have “weapons of mass destruction,” and germ warfare. Anthrax, ricin, smallpox, dynamite and airplanes are wielded in our nightmares. But climate change remains my greatest fear. Perhaps we can defend ourselves against the threats posed by a dangerous, evil, insane few. But the threat our species poses en masse, due to avarice, waste and ignorance, that threat we can and must deal with. Not the end of the world, perhaps. Merely the end of the world as we know and love it.