Staying on track

The train is slowly pulling

away from the station,

an agreement of nations

signed and ratified,

a journey of transformation

to be delivered

after decades of labor.

Carbon cut strategies on board,

sun and wind power

sing as we pick up speed.

Steady-minded scientists

keep watch,

measuring with courageous eyes—

atmospheric levels,


ice melt, ocean levels—

they see dangers ahead,

bear bad news and

shoulder the weight of

ridicule from those who would

call it all a hoax—

If only it was—

The time for gentle whispers

is over,

We are all needed to drive this train,

to repel hijackers,

those who would impede progress

as we glide

on a solar-powered track,


‘Yes we can…before it’s too late.’

©2017 Ontheland

My poem is inspired by Bill McKibben’s  January 18 article: “It’s time to stand up for the climate and for civilization” published in Wired.  I found it to be a concise  and inspiring read about humanity’s challenges in the face of climate change and a new United States government that threatens to impede constructive efforts.   Here is one of my favorite passages:

The Paris accord was a triumph.., not because it solved the problem (it didn’t, not even close) but because it existed at all. Somehow 195 nations—rich and poor, those with oil beneath their sand and those that have to import it—managed to agree that we should limit the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius this century and set up an intricate architecture to at least begin the process. That too is an aspect of what we call civilization.

None of this should be taken for granted. The building blocks of our common home—science and diplomacy and also civility—are hard-won, and history would indicate that they can fade fast. In fact, we now seem likely to start tossing them away based on nothing but the politically useful whim that climate change is a hoax.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and founder of global grassroots climate campaign


13 thoughts on “Staying on track

  1. A beautifully true poem Janice. Kudos to you and many who live a sustainable life or as sustainalbel as you can. Unfortuneately we are living in a world of technology that is changing so fast our planet can not keep up with it. The train that you speak of is fueled with greed and packed with passengers that paid with money of people trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. The ones that are left standing at the station. The scholars have been warning the world for years but their words fall on deaf ears. In the end we will all pay the price if something isn’t done now,

    In 1950 my dad was reading the Daily News we lived in Queens New York. I was seven years old. I asked him what he was reading about, his answer was as follows; “Some day Patti you will be purchasing your food, clothing, cars and everything from a computer. There will be no more farms to visit for fresh food and people like us who work to raise a family will be left with nothing. I won’t be here to see it but you and your sisters and brother will. People with money will ruin this earth and everyone on it because of greed”. My answer to my dad was; “What’s a computer”? That was almost seventy years ago and his words still resinate in my mind. My question now is how do, “we the people”, stop the train? We don’t because we can’t but Mother Nature can and will. In her fury she will take back the gift that many have abused and broken.
    Sorry this post is so long Janice but if one ninth grade educated truck driver could see this coming so many years ago, you can’t tell me scholars say it will never happen. “Be afraid, be very afraid”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your father had unusual foresight. The only thought I would add at this stage is that it’s not over until it’s over. We have opportunities at this stage to make major reductions in our emissions and that should be done. And yes greed is a major obstacle…those who are wealthy may have to tighten their belts—but the main concern should be to protect those without adequate means…something that to go hand in hand with slowing our infatuation with more and more production in the cheapest way possible. We need to make drastic changes. I like your historical perspective. The mess we’re in now has developed very rapidly over only a few generations.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am in agreement with you but sadly most people are just too concern about their own business, without checking the impact to the environment. Really depressing news to read these days.


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