It’s mid-November, and our plants are still bearing red tomatoes. The days are warm, it doesn’t freeze at night, and it hasn’t rained. Maybe when we lived in Santa Cruz we still had tomatoes in November, but in the Sierra Nevada? It should be raining or snowing here.
Over 50% of the United States is in the second year of drought. Here in California, this is the driest year ever recorded.
According to California’s Department of Environmental Protection , climate change is impacting California through hotter temperatures, shrinking snowpack, more frequent and intense wildfires, warmer lakes and oceans, and rising sea levels. And have you noticed? Food prices are higher, as the USDA predicted they would be because of last year’s drought.
It seems that this year’s November tomatoes are a consolation prize of climate change. If anything, these tomatoes are even tastier and sweeter than mid-summer tomatoes. But my pleasure in eating them is tempered by the awareness of where we are headed with climate change, and of the suffering of many people for whom the devastation of climate change is already a reality.
Hurricane Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded, hit the Philippines last week, wreaking havoc. In U.S. news coverage, climate change is hardly mentioned, in spite of the fact that delegates from more than 190 nations are meeting in Warsaw this week for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations. Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears, made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold action, and pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.
Not only does climate change threaten the civilization of which I have been a beneficiary, it threatens the life support system upon which we all depend. These November tomatoes are a symbol to me of the sweetness of the gifts of the earth, but in a darkening time, a time of deadly threat, a time of loss.
I want my grandchildren and future generations to experience the sweetness that I have experienced in life. I’m convinced that it will take hard work and sacrifice on the part of many people to change the system that has brought us to this extremity. I pray that we will join together and rise to the challenge.
Meanwhile, the taste of November tomatoes reminds me to live my faith– to live in the moment, face reality, refuse to be in denial, practice prayer, enjoy the fruits of the Spirit, renounce fear, trust in the Love that undergirds the universe, and follow wherever that Love leads.
For Sharon’s previous postings about climate change, go to blog postings on climate change.