My “ancestral village” in southern Illinois sits on top of what geologists call the “Illinois Basin” a huge ancient geological deposit of fossil fuels. My father worked briefly in a coal mine company initiated by his father in the 1920’s. The Breese-Trenton Mining Co. ceased operating in the 1950’s because bituminous coal was too polluting. Three deep mines that functioned during my childhood are closed, paved over with parks, tennis or golf courts. Hundreds of miners have transitioned into other means of living. My childhood history transitioned from a sheltered existence surrounded by German Catholics into a crowded urban area known with a revolutionary war name of “Morningside Heights”. The war history title eventually became “Harlem” where I lived with a family in the summers of 1965 and 1966. My personal ”Transitioning” into a minority status where 99.999% of the residents were people of color was not that difficult . Nor did I experience racial animosity.
George and Lillian Wall were proud owners of an old three-story “brownstone” home on 122nd & Lennox in the heart of Harlem. George was from the former British colony of Montserrat. As a British subject he was drafted at age 17 into the Royal Navy. He visited every coastal nation in the world with the exception of Scandinavian countries. George wrote poetry in French, Latin and English. Lillian introduced me to the history of Antigua, her island homeland in the Caribbean.
My personal “transition” from a small coal mining town to “The World’s Financial Center” was expanded again in January 2015 as I read for the very first time of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) taking root in Antigua.
Antigua, Barbados, and the “String of Pearls” islands of the Caribbean are known to thousands of tourists who may not reflect upon the fact all island nations are threatened by a warming, rising ocean. Nor do residents of coastal cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, Norfolk, VA care to dwell intellectually on an invincible ocean that is now lapping at their doorsteps.
Island nations are pragmatically taking a leading role in transitioning to renewable energy.
IRENA in 2015 has 138 members (out of 190 UN countries) with 35 states now in the process of joining.
During the summers of ’65 and ’66 no one in New York City would envision the fact flooding from hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012) would actually inundate “the Big Apple” by shutting down all transportation and even Wall Street’s Stock Exchange.
Such weather calamities will occur again. The East river and mighty Hudson on the west side of Manhattan are relentless aquatic pincers that might compel a change of thinking on energy sources.
Will New York and all states entertain possible transitioning to IRENA? Children hope so.