Jan 15 An American oceanographer who helped
write an international report on climate change has condensed
several of its key findings - such as how choices made today may
shape the future world - into a collection of succinct poems in
the Haiku style.
The poems came to Gregory Johnson, a 20-year veteran of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as he pored
over an executive summary of "Climate Change 2013: The Physical
Science Basis," while holed up in his Seattle home on a recent
weekend with the flu, he said.
"I thought that if I tried distilling these ideas into
haiku, maybe that would help fix them in my mind," said Johnson,
a lead author on the chapter of the report dealing with the
effects of global warming on oceans. "This was not intended for
anything but my own personal consumption."
After penning the poems and painting watercolors
accompanying each of them, Johnson, heartened by feedback from
friends and family, agreed to publish them on the website of the
Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental policy
Several of the haikus highlight the report's findings that
near-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would reduce
future warming, but that, as one poem concludes, "rising seas
Others deal with regional weather patterns that climate
change is expected to reinforce.
"Wet will get wetter/ and dry drier, since warm air/ carries
more water," reads another of the poems.
Haiku, a sparse Japanese poetry form, consists of three
lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively.
Johnson emphasizes that the haikus represent his own
personal views and not those of NOAA or the international team
of scientists responsible for the report. He was not paid for
the poems' publication, he said.
If the haikus get more people engaged in climate change
issues, he said, that would be reward enough.
"If I could steer a few people to look at the official
summary (of the report) that would be lovely," he said.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)