Helen Putnam Park fog szBear with me…I’m a little rusty. It’s been 12 months since my last blog post! Not sure how I went from turning out one a week to none, but I’m determined to start writing again and the anniversary of the last entry seemed like a good time to start.

Coffee Social this week was bound for Mars. Or at least one of our coWORKers was planning to join Elon Musk on his outer space adventure and wave back at our blue globe over the horizon of the red one. But should we be investing our time and money in colonizing other planets when our own beautiful Earth is in desperate need of attention? Is space exploration the next frontier, or just another way to turn our backs on the most amazing ecosystem yet discovered? What if Earth really is unique – a one-of-a-kind coalescence of all the right factors needed to create life in all of its beauty and abundance?

And so we landed on the important and complicated topic of climate change. We went round and round, trying to figure out why we aren’t all more invested in fighting for the safety of our precious planet. In general, safety seems like one of our key priorities. The War on Terror gets plenty of attention. I’m pretty sure the major disruption of our climate has the potential to threaten us all in ways we can only begin to imagine. How can we not care? Perhaps it’s because the changes are gradual enough right now that we aren’t noticing – kinda like the proverbial frog caught in a pot of slowly boiling water. Or perhaps it’s because we don’t have a face for the enemy in this war. Yeah…there is CO2, but that’s a simplification of our problem and doesn’t make for a very convincing villain. In this case the enemy is not “them”, it is us.  And who wants to hear that!?

But as we were closing our conversation one coWORKer, who is originally from Arkansas, piped up with an interesting insight. He said the fastest way to turn someone into an environmentalist is to move them to California, because it’s so freakin’ beautiful! If you live in an environment of flat corn fields and oppressive humidity and thousands of annoying bugs, you don’t really care for nature. Nature is much more foe than friend. Growing up in the heart of the spectacular redwood forests of Northern California with lush ferns under foot by day, a twinkling Milky Way overhead by night, and a temperate climate rarely ranging too far out of my comfort zone, I’d never really thought of it that way.

Just before Coffee Social, Matt and I went for an early morning hike in Helen Putnam Park where the views are so awe-inspiring (even in the fog) I asked out loud, “Why beauty?” What is the evolutionary purpose of this human experience? And my only conclusion was “So we will protect and cherish that which we find beautiful.” Thus, the adoration of your child’s face and the profound delight in a gorgeous landscape.

Perhaps it is not an enemy we need to find to help us rally around this fight against climate change. Instead, let us find the friend worth protecting, whose beauty has helped us to recognize and appreciate her magnificence, this planet Earth.

Written by Natasha Juliana. Edited by Linda Jay. Photograph by Natasha Juliana.

Curious about Coffee Social?  Join us Tuesdays at 10 AM.