My Turn: Global warming is sooo last century
Editor’s Note: This is in response to the My Turn column, and#8220;Global and#8216;warn’ing must stop,and#8221; published in the Sierra Sun on July 20.
Global Warming is so last century. The issues surrounding climate change are much greater than the natural heating up of the globe that and#8212; as you point out and#8212; may or may not be related to the human impact of burning fossil fuels. The real issue is that we as a society do not take a holistic view of our true impact on the earth and climate. Nature is inherently a closed system that operates perfectly well without our intervention. Humans disrupt this system and the cumulative effects of our actions are now being seen through climate change and damage to our ecosystems. Denial will only prevent or delay us from coming to terms with our actions.
Regardless of the science, our consumption based society can not continue to indefinitely extract non-renewable resources from the earth, leach toxins into our water supply and pump poisonous gas into the atmosphere.
As the earth’s population increases, so to do the demands for a consumption and petroleum-product based lifestyle. Indeed as the prosperity of developing countries like India and China increases, the demand for a and#8220;westernand#8221; lifestyle increases as well and#8212; just adding to our classic supply and demand problem. Science and common sense would both conclude that we can not draw down resources faster than we replace them while burying ourselves in the byproducts. This extravagance will inevitably lead to disaster.
The irony that prehistoric thinking is supported by a livelihood completely dependent on dinosaur remains is not lost. The real threats to our economy and way of life are bigger than rising sea levels and endangered polar bears. For example:
Water. We are lucky in the U.S. We have water from a tap. Chlorinated, filtered, chilled, and#8220;safeand#8221;. But 2.5 billion people in the world do not have adequate access to safe drinking water and 80 percnet of illnesses in developing countries are caused by water borne disease. It is in these very countries where we protect our fossil fuels and manufacture our toys.
Extinction. A natural evolution process is accelerating at an alarming rate. There have been five extinction waves in the planet’s history and we are now entering the sixth. Asteroids or volcanoes are not the cause but rather growing population, our thirst for natural resources and climate change. Nearly 1 in 4 mammals worldwide are now at risk for extinction. This is a direct indication of our ecosystem health.
War.The U.S. is by far the largest exporter of weaponry and maintains the largest defense budget in the world. This spending ultimately protects the very petro chemicals that lead to the climate crisis.
Food. Our food supply system places a tremendous burden on our environment and#8212; emitting methane from production and carbon dioxide from processing and transport. and#8220;Buying localand#8221; is more than good business, a local farmers market evokes an almost primal pleasure that is universally satisfying, healthy and easy to support.
The Ultimate Food. Despite the well known advantages of breast feeding, environmental contaminants such as household inhalants, petrol fumes, dry cleaning reside and PCBs and dioxins in our food chain can render human breast milk unsafe based on federal food safety standards.
Oil … don’t even get me started …
The point is, we have a mounting global crisis that will take more than hybrid vehicles, energy efficient light bulbs and cloth shopping bags to fix. We are shaping a biologically impoverished earth. It will take leaders who care enough to adopt responsible behaviors, support a restorative economy and understand that we cannot and#8220;drilland#8221; our way out of the problem. Fortunately, we are seeing a new breed of leaders and#8212; politicians, responsible capitalists and environmentalists and#8212; coming to the table to offer solutions. Ignorance will hopefully soon go the way of the dinosaur.
The truth is, the Earth will be fine without us, better off perhaps. The brutal truth is that we are all concerned about the destruction of our economy, our world position and our way of life. We simply cannot destroy our resources at an exponential rate while we adjust behavior at an arithmetic rate. Its up to us to take responsibility for our actionsand#8230; as if it mattered.
Kristin York is a Truckee resident.
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