In keeping with the holiday spirit, we at ClimateMama are thankful and humbled by the many wonderful, caring people we have had the good fortune to meet who are working on climate change from so many different angles and directions. Our good friend Tom at Climate Bites, recently introduced us to one of these people, Brian Ettling. Brian was kind enough to share one of his hopeful true life Christmas stories with us and we are thrilled to “pass it forward” and share his story with you.
The Two Green Wise Men: Tugging at My Best Friend, by Brian Ettling
In the original Christmas story, a bright star appears over Bethlehem attracting three wise men from the East. They traveled from far away to see what they believed was the Messiah who was just born. The arrival of the wise men was considered to be a very strong signal.
Over 2,000 years later, the signal of climate change is becoming evident from many different sources of scientific evidence, such as changes in the atmosphere, oceans, polar ice shelves, sea level rise, weather patterns, etc. Just like the prominent news in Bethlehem of wise men arriving from the East, it is getting harder to ignore the vast amount of news about climate change these days.
For me, it has been fascinating to watch as my best friend Scott has changed his views on climate change, in large part as “the wise men” in his life have become harder to ignore or dismiss… I have known Scott for nearly 30 years. I met him back in 7th grade when we would eat lunch together at school and talk baseball. Since high school, our lives have gone in totally different directions. But we have kept our friendship strong over the years with the unspoken rule that many good friends have, “don’t talk about politics.”
Over the years, Scott has had a lot of fun when we are together, poking fun of global warming, an issue we have had very different views on. Scott would love to tell me as often as he could, how palm trees in Seattle and in his home state of Wisconsin would be a wonderful thing; and how he would welcome sea level rise so he could launch his boat from his home, which would be so much closer to the Puget Sound then it is now! We have so much fun talking about other stuff like baseball, the outdoors, music etc; but I would have to bite my tongue so hard that it would almost bleed at times when he would make his global warming jokes.
I wasn’t the only one who Scott enjoyed sharing his global warming jokes with..Scott’s son Ricky heard many of these jokes over the years, just like me. However, when Ricky came home from school a few years ago, he chose not to bit his tongue any longer, he put his foot down and would not give his Dad an inch. He kept saying, “No, Dad, we are learning about this in school and this is why global warming is a huge concern… “
As with many parents, Scott recognized that he could not easily dismiss his own son. Scott told me that while he might choose to ignore his best friend, “a tree hugger park ranger,” it was much harder to ignore his son who was coming home from school with articulate facts and strong beliefs on climate change. Just like the town of Bethlehem noticing the original Wise Men, it was hard for Scott to ignore the now “Two Green Wise Men” who were both important and influential voices in his life.
Scott is still Scott, my best friend of 30 years who continues to joke with me on global warming, telling me that sea level rise wouldn’t be such a bad thing as he then could go fishing right from home. But recently Scott has gone out of his way to wish me well as I follow my passion as a climate change communicator. His tone has been both supportive and encouraging. In the end, that is all you can ask for in a best friend.
Scott’s new found understanding makes me want to double my efforts even more to inspire people to understand and resolve climate change. I am going to do all I can to prevent dangerous climate change. In the end, I know that all the negative consequences are going to far outweigh any positives of Scott being able to fish from his house – and I believe that Scott knows this too…thanks in part to the two “Green Wise Men” in his life..!
Brian Ettling loves planet earth and is following his passion as a climate change communicator. For the past 13 years, he has worked as a naturalist ranger at Everglades National Park in Florida and at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, where he has created an evening campfire program on the impact of climate change on Crater Lake. The National Park Service invited Brian to attend the 2011 NASA ‘Earth to Sky’ conference in Washington D.C. on successfully communicating climate change with park visitors. Brian is living in St. Louis, Missouri for the winter where he co-founded Climate Reality St. Louis, a group of locals discussing the impact and solutions to climate change
For more stories by Brian, check out his personal Blog: Be Green Now