As soon as I sat down, Camp had news for me. Not good news, just some numbers and figures. ‘For 33 days, the global average temperature at the sea surface has not fallen below 21 degrees, according to data from the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This has never happened since satellite records began in 1981,’ he said.  ‘Usually, a period of cooling begins from mid-March. Now we are at the end of April, and there are still no signs of a drop in temperature.’

‘Well, around here it’s still rather cool, too cold to swim for me.’

He ignored me. ‘Here is another interesting stat. ‘So far this year the world population has increased by 22 million people, about the population, of Ontario (15mio), Alberta (4.5mio) and BC (5mio) together. All that in just 4 months.’ 

‘Ok, so what you’re saying is the world and the oceans are warming up; there are millions of more people who all want more stuff and the world isn’t getting any bigger.‘

‘You got the gist,’ Camp said, leaning back in his chair. ‘We’re fucked.’

‘I want to point out to you that all is not lost. The trees are budding, the spring flowers are blooming, the seeds are sprouting and our garden looks the best ever. That is a project we can do something about and I’ll be damned if I just sit around and think about the demise of the human project. Moping in gloom and doom is not a healthy mental condition and is mostly the territory of old people. And I’m not old, just older.’

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Change or Perish

            I knew Camp had something on his mind that couldn’t wait to be spilled out and I was not wrong, but not quite ready for the intensity of his lament and soliloquy and it had nothing to do with the current war in Europe or China’s latest failing experiment in social engineering.

‘I’ve come across a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist from the 19thcentury,’ Camp said as soon as he plunked into his chair by the window. ‘It’s still relevant for our times. It goes something like this: You must change your life’ in order to have a better life. My modern interpretation is that we all must change our lives, in other words, stop the spread of rampant capitalism, stop with the exploitation of the third world, stop with the manic consumer orgy, the over production of goods and waste, stop the excesses of the modern world. ‘

‘Except that none of us are willing to give up our luxuries that we consider necessities like cars, fridges, air travel, laundry machines, closets full of clothes and shoes, pre-packaged groceries, air conditioning, heating, cooking and kitchen equipment and all other manner of energy consuming gadgets,’ I said.

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Only Change Endures

         It has been a hot week here on the coast. Perfect temperature, always a cool breeze off the water and no bugs. We eat outside, all the kids swim and play off the Granthams Wharf all day long and we leave every window open. Rich man’s weather, Clare calls it. She is out in her garden at daybreak when it’s still cool and only the birds are up. I live in T-shirts, short and sandals while my friend Campbell has to wear a proper shirt and pants, looking respectable in his bookstore. He sits down with a sigh of relief, looking for the shady side at our usual table.

         “It’s been a cooker,” he said, “and to Vicky who like a mirage set two ice cold lagers in front of us. “And how was the holiday my dear?”

         “It was a family reunion for my boyfriend’s tribe. We drove 2500 km from here to Winnipeg and then back again. I had no idea how big this country is and that wasn’t even half way across. He drove and I watched the scenery pass by. We got to talk a lot.”

         “Well, we’re glad you’re back although we really like Rosie as well,” Camp flustered. He’s just not good with compliments. His strength is more in criticism.

         “Enjoy the summer,” he said, “you know it won’t last,” but Vicky was already gone, missing his last comment.

         “So much for positive thinking,” I said but in response Camp warbled philosophically.

         “There is change in everything,” he said. “Climate change, change of partners, seasons, change of the guard, change of everything including the change in my pocket.”

         “It’s what it is Camp. Change is here to stay,” I said offhandedly. “What’s on your mind? Trouble with Muriel? Trump’s treasonous betrayal in Helsinki? or is it too many book browsers and too few book buyers?”

         “No, not really. I can deal with reality since I don’t expect too much, definitely not from Trump. I shouldn’t complain but I need a holiday, put my toes in the sand, gaze at the sky, maybe even read a novel in the afternoon. All work and no play makes Camp a dull boy.”

         “The Shining?” I asked.

         “King borrowed the saying from James Howards Proverbs, published in 1659,” Camp said dismissively. “I just could use a change of scenery I guess.”

         “Yes, change is a good thing, except climate change of course,” I said, taking a long thirsty swallow.

          “Without changing climates we wouldn’t have any seasons, any different fauna’s or temperate zones. The hysterics about climate change are a bit like the fears and complaints about stress. Here it is: Stress is normal; distress is not. Climate change is normal; Climate destruction is not.”

         I was a bit taken aback by his passionate response to my off the cuff remark. “I agree whole heartedly,” I said. “We need to curb our opinionated, emotional reasoning and replace it with sober, scientific and factual assessments and solutions.”

          “Yes, and we need to reduce our toxic emissions, manage our recourses, curb our population growth and educate, educate, educate. Education is the key to empowerment; it supplies the tools to change to a better world. Recognition of a problem is part of its solution. And in the end: Only Change Endures.”

       Camp’s diatribe resulted in a mighty thirst and there was Rosie bringing us two refills. “Vicky told me you’re ready for these,” she said.

         “Is it still happy hour?” Camp asked.

         “For you two lucky guys, it never changes.”

         “It’s a wonderful world,” I said, raising my glass in a universal toast.