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Green Building Blog

Martin’s 2015 Christmas Poem

As we cross off the last days of 2015 on our calendars, we realize that the phrase ‘time is running out’ carries a special poignancy

To Our Coy Leaders

With apologies to Andrew Marvell


Had we but world enough and time,

This coyness, leaders, were no crime.

Trudeau, Obama, Modi, Xi,

Might ponder for a year, or three,

To calculate the min and max

That’s needed for a carbon tax.

We might imagine some new way

To lower carbon, every day.

If we had time, we’d contemplate

A drop in our emission rate;

We’d meet in Paris, meet in Rome,

And plan to weatherize each home.


Our CO2 ideas would grow

Vaster than empires and more slow;

A hundred years might go to praise

Our plan to limit smog and haze;

We’d sing of glaciers, cold and fair,

And we would laud the polar bear;

We’d eulogize the Jersey shore,

And sing these hymns for decades more.

Our senators in Washington

Could mock the experts, just for fun,

Denying science all day long,

Because debate is never wrong;

Republicans could drag their heels,

Until they get how hot it feels.

We might wait years, and just sit tight

Till Sarah Palin sees the light.


But at my back I always hear

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity;

Yet by the Indian Ganges’ bank

The coal still burns, the motors crank!

If we just wait, I strongly doubt

That we’ll survive the storms and drought.

Each year a threatened species dies,

And everywhere, the oceans rise.

(As water climbs up to our knees,

You say, “Our target’s 2 degrees.”)

Where will beauty then be found,

When red state leaders come around?

Our carbon taxes won’t mean much

When Greenland’s ice has turned to mush.

So put aside that champagne cup,

Dear leader — now! And listen up!

There’s time for you to still be great:

Just pass some bills! It’s not too late!

We hope, that is, it’s not too late,

As we now mull the planet’s fate.

So as we drink our Christmas rum,

Let’s pray for Christmases to come.


Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from the Energy Nerd. Martin’s previous holiday greetings include The Raven, Casey Makes a Bet, The Energy Grinch, his Macbeth parody, his parodies of Christmas carols, and his parody of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”




  1. canadianexpy | | #1

    Nice!!! Very Nice..
    Nice!!! Very Nice..
    Well Done.

  2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #2

    Martin's the poet laureate of green!

  3. user-349933 | | #3

    Price of carbon
    What is kind of ironic is how cheap the price of carbon is right now. It actually seems to have dropped in half. Under Bush I paid double to fill up my work truck then I do now. Sure it wasn't a carbon tax but the higher gas prices had the same result that a tax would. Now large SUVs that have long life spans are back in demand.Maybe the best approach is actually slow and steady improvements.

  4. exeric | | #4

    Well Done
    Thank you Martin. A very nice, though somber, Holiday message. I've really appreciated your efforts at GBA over the years.

  5. JustHousing | | #5

    Best ever
    I've enjoyed every one, but this one reaches a new level. Thank you Martin. Would it be that all the world leaders would read this, understand, and take action.

    Might you submit it to the NY Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post and the Guardian (and more)? I'd love to see this reach many more eyes than those of GBA readers.

  6. PAUL KUENN | | #6

    I can't surpass what Martin has written but was inspired
    For those of us builders who are ice climbers to
    See with our own eyes that all the greening up will not do
    Our glaciers have diminished into rubble
    Our season of pleasure on the freezing vertical is in trouble
    In amazement I continue to ponder
    What more can I do to change the terminal plunder?
    Will I have to give up my toasty wool socks when I wander
    As I sit at the window sharpening my favorite climbing tool
    I look out and savor this cold morning’s breakfast fuel
    I find something in December’s darkness that is so cool
    For just across the yard the neighbor’s eaves drool
    Why there’s an ice climb awaiting a first ascent
    All because of their waste of energy that was spent
    Could the biggest ice dam in town be so marketable?
    It certainly is for the energy company’s books profitable
    I call all my climbing friends to come and share
    We’ll tell the home owners we’re there to diminish the weight
    For the ice may cause damage and I don’t want to think of the fate
    I set my tools and begin to kick upwards and can feel the gutter shake
    All I want to do is make it to the rake
    My partners now await their turn to enjoy this winter tradition
    But alas, global warming follows our ambition
    A December rain spoils our aberration
    I’ m forced down before my line of ascent is gone
    So I knock on their door and tell them to seal and insulate by the next dawn.

  7. LucyF | | #7

    Scary good
    That's a scary good poem. Thank you, Martin.

  8. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #8

    Thanks for all of the kind comments. And thanks, Paul, for sharing your extended (and poetic) ice metaphor.

    Best wishes to all GBA readers -- for a joyful holiday season and a new year without too many climate surprises.

  9. Expert Member

    Thanks To Martin, the rest of the contributors and the posters on GBA. It has completely changed the way I approach design and construction.
    Hope the holidays find you all well and happy.

  10. user-689896 | | #10

    Holiday Haiku
    Seven poems in a row
    From Energy Nerd

  11. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    Response to Dan Morrison
    Good to hear from you, Dan. Merry Christmas!

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