Opinion » Editorial

We can be heroes

by Sue O'Connell
Thursday Apr 14, 2016

I feel guilty everytime I look at a baby. I feel downright criminal if the infant makes eye contact with me and smiles.

American adults alive in 2016 enjoy a view that is a first in human history. We understand more of the past than our ancestors-and we have the science to see into the future.

I'm sorry, babies. We should have done something sooner.

Here's the real deal. This is our "Adam and Eve" moment. We know we are naked, and nobody is taking care of us but ourselves. We've taken that bite of the knowledge apple. Now it's up to us.

Think about it.

My grandparents, born in the late 1800s, entered a world with no proof that the earth was indeed round.

My parents, born in 1920, entered a world with no understanding of atmosphere or where pollution went.

For all of my ancestors, electricity, cars, phones didn't exist and were unimaginable by most.

Babies born in Boston today live in a world with scientific proof that is available to many simply by looking at their cell phone. What do we know? Greenhouse gases trap radiation from the sun and warm the planet's surface, including oceans. That warmth is melting Antarctica. The runoff from Antarctica will directly impact Boston. Boston is built on landfill.

So what do we do?

We build luxury housing in the areas that will be the first to be underwater.

But what about the great minds of industry and innovation? General Electric, the jewel in the New International Boston, will be built on Fort Point Channel. The location's name alone should give away it's future as a leader in the New Underwater Boston.

If this were a movie, world and city leaders would dedicate every moment to alerting the public of the impending change; work toward relocation plans; direct our public education to focus on science and survival. It's a crisis. It's urgent. Call Zoe Saldana, Will Smith or Ben Affleck.

But it's not a movie. It's real life. We argue about the Red Sox, Deflate Gate, American Idol. We argue about who will fold the laundry; chase the latest sale; watch porn on the internet. Donald Trump and Tom Brady take up much more media time than those boring climate reports.

And it's not easy having empathy for people who do not exist yet. It's not easy to deal with a problem that hasn't happened yet when we are each knee-deep in very real problems of today.

Maybe if we focus on Boston Strong, Boston Pride. That we could be heroes. We could save the best of our city.

Or next time you see a baby you could say, "I've got your back, baby."

And if I haven't sold you yet on how we need to act strongly and swiftly, how about your legacy? Ever wondered what you would have done if you had been alive during major historic events-American slavery, the Holocaust? What role would you have played?

Guess what? You are dead-center in the 2116 history book. Chapter title: Olde Boston, The City Underwater.

What role will you play?