Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Environment


I know I've mentioned this before, but my Dad's a geographer. I grew up pH testing dirt for fun. My Dad's area of expertise is desertification--the fact of/process by which deserts around the world are growing...annually.

So, global climate change, blah blah blah...that's not what I'm here to argue.

What I'm here to say is this:
Whether it's our fault or not, can we all agree that using up finite resources is...well...um...stupid.

I feel like calling a spade a spade today--and this is a Royal Flush of spades.

If we can agree for a moment, that the climate is changing, well...that would be a good start.

Lots of things are demonstrating this fact. Animal populations are decreasing in some important animals, growing seasons are changing (which directly affect some animals), even the times when Vermont Maple Syrup farmers tap their trees have changed dramatically over the last thirty years.

Okay, if we can agree that those things aren't lies, then we can continue.

We know that things like...burning coal for heat have an effect on the environment. After all, we know that the famous London Fog--thick as pea soup--was actually caused by heavy particulate coal smoke creating an inversion layer over the city that trapped the moisture and created the fog. So we know that our actions can change the environment--even in small ways, even temporarily.

Okay, so if we can agree on that, then we can move on.

We know that since the beginning of the last century our dependence on fossil fuels has increased dramatically. Fossil fuels are finite resources. Dependence on anything that will run out (even decades from now) is foolhardy. New technology will have to replace the current technology--it's not an if, it's a when.

So, why not now?

1) We know that sucking on a tail pipe will kill you
2) We know that we are dumping the stuff that will kill you into the air (which we all have to share) at extraordinary rates
3) We know we're all in this together--it's not a local problem
4) We know in our heart-of-hearts that whether we are causing global climate change or not, that the first three things listed here are true.

So.

Why not try to do something about it.

IF the climate change we are experiencing is natural, then so be it. We'll adapt or we'll die. It's that simple.
BUT.
If there's even a small chance that WE are the culprits, then the above listed points make it ridiculously plain that we need to at least try to do something about the problem.

Even if we are wrong, the outcome will be a cleaner environment for ourselves, our children, and our children's children.

And I don't buy the "it'll kill business and cost us a fortune" argument.
The auto industry said the same thing about seat belts.
Seat belts have hardly been the downfall of the auto industry.

We are nothing if not an inventive people. Let's have some of the billionaire boys from the Dot Com boom start hosting competitions for the best non-fossil fuel engine. Let's create a reason for kids to learn science. Let's find a way to make it all profitable. Let's start making kits to retrofit houses to rely partially on solar, on wind, use grey water, include cisterns. If those things are cheap and available and save families money--we're all going to be better off!

Why aren't there solar panels or wind generators on the roofs of the Projects in NYC? Even a small cut in energy sucked off the grid in a city that large would have a huge impact on the economy. And if the power companies were the ones (a) selling and (b) maintaining that equipment, then they wouldn't have to worry about becoming obsolete.

There are lots of ways to make a dent. And even if you don't believe we're causing the climate change, you can't avoid the need/desire for a cleaner environment for our children.

We can not afford to be a short-sighted, adolescent nation any longer.
It's time to grow up.

3 comments:

Dawn said...

U R my hero. I heart you.

(whoa, too much blog reading for me...of to decontam...)

SpinningErin said...

The funny thing is that even before the Dust Bowl, they knew that America's farming methods were harmful to the ground; reference *The Worst Hard Time* by Timothy Egan about those that didn't move on when the topsoil all blew away. We have always known what to do - but no one wants to do it. No wonder the cost to our nation is so great - it is the one with the knowledge who is at the greatest fault. You go, Heather.

Jenny said...

AMEN. No preaching to this Choir!