The failing state of the environment if not a new issue, as it appears in the news more and more. As we undergo the hottest month on record, with droughts leaving much of the country barren, the growing problem is just heating up. As issues involving our environment are becoming more pressing, though it appears to be more widely ignored.
In Mark Bittman’s piece in the New York Times’ Opinionator, titled “The Endless Summer,” he rhetorically asked “how bad will things get” and how long “before we wake up to it.”
The strangest thing about environmental woes is that people are just not ready to face the facts. Texas Governor, and almost-GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry said in an interview last spring that he didn’t believe in climate change.
“I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” Perry said in an interview. “I don’t think from my perspective that I want to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”
Though it’s still baffling that someone in any sort of leadership status, especially a governor of a state, could even question that climate change is just a “theory.” Though, Perry is not exactly the poster-child for rational thought when it comes to social issues. Just ask the LGBT community.
In Bittman’s piece, he talks about how the wealthy in this country are able to see the ongoing changes in our environment as “manageable.”
“As long as you’re wealthy and able to move around at will. But it’s not manageable to the corn farmers losing their crops,” said Bittman in his article. “The ranchers selling off their cattle, the thousands of people in Colorado burned out of their homes in fires caused by the worst drought since 1956 or those who will lose their homes or jobs to fire, flood, drought or whatever in coming years.”
Bittman also mentions the recently released book Global Weirdness, which explains climate change in simple, easy-to-understand language and ultra-short chapters. It’s calmly toned informational book that author Michael Lemonick explains is due to the fact that “some people respond well to ‘Big trouble is coming and we must do something immediately,’ but others are overwhelmed and just turn off. We believe that if you look at all the available evidence it’s clear we’re pushing the earth into a regime where it hasn’t been before, and the effects could well be disastrous.”
“It’s too early to connect the dots with a really thick, solid black line,” he said in the interview. “The reason being that climate change pushes on weather in a more statistical way. Meaning you can’t say this particular heat-wave was caused by climate change, but you can say is that in a warming world, these things will come along more and more often.”
The argument that climate change is going to lead to major problems for a lot of people living on this planet is not a new notion, though the consequences that the weather of our future will bring is something that appears to not have stuck with the general populace.
Growing concern/disregard for the environment are one of the many aspects of american public policy that are ignoring real issue at hand; the widening gap between the rich and poor in America. However, it’s important to look at the aspects of industrialization that were the cause of these “greenhouse gases” – oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. These are all multibillion-dollar industries that have strong lobbyist that have Washington in a choke hold.
Bittman mentions the Kyoto Protocol in his piece, a 15 year-old agreement that claimed countries who signed would annually reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The protocol was ratified and acted upon by almost every country in the world, including every industrialized nation but one: the United States.
“Bill Clinton signed Kyoto,” said Bittman. “George W. Bush, despite an election pledge, repudiated it.”
Only reducing carbon emissions can keep matters from becoming worse, but who is willing to take pay-cut for it? Americans don’t seem to be the answer, and its incredibly selfish of us to push this burden on other countries, and burying our heads in the sand. It becomes increasingly hard to do, especially with weather acting as weird as it had recently, things like winters that feel like springs and blizzards before Halloween.
“Things like snow storms in October is not something that’s unheard of,” said Lemonick, when asked about the bizarre snowstorm last October. “The question is, are they happening more often? And following to see if they continue to happen more often as this century plays out.”
In an uncertain future on the health of our planet, concerns sprung early this month as NASA’s own Curiosity rover droid landed on Mars, taking photos of new strange planet. Thousands of views on the web watched the landing in real-time, through a live webcast, and many followers on twitter posted statuses along the lines of, “Time to pollute Mars, the new Earth!”
It appears that climate change is something that has left us with more questions than answers, and a heavy sense of shame as a species. Though it’s not hopeless, it’s crunch time to open-up to new ideas and start combating the change that has already taken effect. It will take time, though, and if there is a virtue humans are not keen on it is patience.