Today is Earth Day. A good day to take stock of where we are going with our caretaking of our big blue marble. Image borrowed from Tom Guarriello’s excellent recent post "If not now, when?" on climate change and it’s impact on our earth.
He writes about a documentary about to be released An Inconvenient Truth; which he was priveleged to see recently. Having recently written about my own growing unease about the lack of measures being taken to halt this roller coaster ride to environmental destruction, I found his three key points extremely powerful. Here are they in full:
Gore believes there are three key psychological obstacles preventing Americans (in particular) from demanding action on global warming:
- There is controversy about the science.
– Anyone who only watches TV and reads major news outlets (read: most
of us), probably believes global warming is either an unproven
hypothesis or a reflection of "cyclical changes" that have occurred
before. That’s because a study Gore cites found that while every single one of 938 articles published in peer-reviewed journals supported the rise of global temperature as a result of human activity, 53% of pieces presented in popular media expressed skepticism
about warming. So, there is no controversy about the climate crisis
science: the planet is warming (10 of the hottest years ever recorded
have occurred in the last 14 years); this warming is a result of
unprecedented CO² levels in the atmosphere due to human behavior
("unprecedented" is not hyperbole, as current levels are higher than
any found in polar ice samples going back at least 400,000 years).
- We have to choose between the economy and the environment.
– Hobson would have loved this one. The argument goes as follows: in
order to restrict emissions we need to cut power consumption which
means losing jobs. In fact, alternative energy innovation and
development will create jobs, especially as the economics of $71/bbl
oil (as of today, stay tuned) increase fossil-fuel-based energy costs.
By the way, the auto industry’s leaders have shamefully fought gas
mileage standards for decades, only to find themselves in the bizarre
position of being unable to sell automobiles in China today because out vehicles cannot meet today’s Chinese pollution requirements. So, the economic impact of not producing environmentally sustainable products will soon become an issue for more and more American industries.
- The problem is too big to fix. – As Gore
puts it in the film, "this is when we go directly from denial to
despair." Fact is, we have the technology today to reduce CO² emissions
to 1972 levels, significantly stopping environmental deterioration.
The ClimateCrisis.net website (about to be re-launched with enhanced
features) details many things
that ordinary people like ourselves can do to reduce our "carbon
footprint" and slow warming. Granted, the scenes of huge chunks of ice
calving off Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland iceshelves is
disconcerting. But not as disconcerting as it would be if we were to do
nothing and see something like the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf completely break up.
In my own post last week, I highlighted matters that support what Tom is saying, pointing out the discrepancies between what needed to be done and what was actually happening. In fact with respect to his first point alone "There is controversy over the science", imho, there is no controversy, there is an attempt to create confusion, well documented.
And instead of even evaluating whether the "problem is to big to fix", here are some recent news articles, from my previous post:
- NPR – "EPA Weighs Easing Rules on Toxic Air Pollutants" dtd April 4th 2006,
- The Tennessean – "Don’t let plants detour around Clean Air Act" dtd April 3rd 2006,
- The Boston Globe – "EPA proposes weaker water-quality rule" dtd April 2nd 2006,
Indeed, a clear indicator of the denial stage exemplified by a "what the heck, it’s dirty anyway, let’s dirty it some more, I’ll be dead and gone in the 20 to 30 years it will take the problems to become severe".
Tom, if this goes on, there won’t be any grandchildren left to ask "What were they thinking?" – it’s time to ask "ARE they thinking?"