I read an article today that argues that coal-burning generators are not doing all that much damage to the climate. This is the kind of argument that makes me gag. I’ll get back to this later.
There is no serious dispute that humans hold significant responsibility for damaging earth’s ecology. You can’t label water pollution or unbreathable air as caused by earth’s normal climate cycles. These are things humans have created.
For more than a decade, the entire west and southwestern area of the U.S. has been running out of water. They had quite a lot to begin with because it had been going through a period of better-than-average rainfall. Since then, each year of drought has lessened the amount of available water. They are, as a friend of mine who lives there pointed out, in big trouble.
Prodigious volumes of water are necessary to sustain a modern population. (It requires, for instance, nearly 3,000 gallons of water to produce the food for a typical family dinner, according to a “Facts Brochure,” issued by the Utah Water Supply Internet site.) The water supply must serve not only individuals, but also agricultural and livestock enterprises, municipalities, businesses and industries. Indeed, 80 or 90 percent of the total consumption in agricultural areas may be attributable to irrigation alone. As a result of the relentless growth in demand, said the USGS, “Ground-water resources in the Southwest [have become] among the most overused in the United States. “
The absence of water in these areas shouldn’t surprise anyone. These are designated arid regions.
“Arid regions by definition receive little precipitation— less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain per year. Semi-arid regions receive 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain per year.”
These arid regions are hard to miss because it was and is, desert. Sand and cactus. Despite all evidence pointing to this being an area that can only support a limited number of people, greed and short-sightedness have resulted in a gigantic population boom in areas with extremely fragile water resources.
Humans are greedy. Land, to a developer, equals money. Build houses, roads, malls, businesses. Count on there being more rain than usual and when if (when) that fails — because it’s an ARID REGION — blame it on climate change. The climate didn’t do this. People did.
I believe in climate change, but first and foremost, I believe humans are stupid and short-sighted. We intentionally do everything wrong based on personal greed and lack of interest in the future.
Planet Earth did everything except put up billboards pointing out that this is arid land. Couldn’t you tell from the Ironwood trees and the cactus? If you were a fan of western movies, remember all the westerns where ranchers keep telling farmers if they plow the land, it will destroy the grass and turn good grazing land into a desert? We were supposed to root for the farmers who were the designated “good guys.” Except the ranchers were right and the farmers were deluded.
So then there was the dust bowl. Rich prairies became deserts and everyone had to move away. Bye-bye prairie. Increasing human population beyond an area’s ability to support it is the kind of idiocy modern “first world” governments are unable to resist.
We see a tree where we might want to put a road? Cut it down. For that matter, cut down the entire forest. Plant some tiny trees miles away. Point out in a dulcet-voiced advertisement how you’ve supplied the birds and animals who lived in the woods with a new place to live. No one mentions that this newly-planted area won’t be a viable place for anything to live for many years to come — assuming that those tiny trees grow into bigger trees. Fifty years later, more than a billion birds are dead due to loss of habitat with millions more dying every year.
The heat this year out west is fierce. All that asphalt and cement don’t give the earth breathing room. Instead of nightly cooling, overheated pavement emits as much heat at night as the sun produced by day. Meanwhile, cities keep growing and water levels keep dropping. The west is on fire as smoke fills the air and the lakes empty.
I have watched people moving to places that are already — literally — on fire or flooded. Maybe they assume whatever is going on won’t affect them personally. Stuff on the news is always “other peoples’ problem.” To quote Alfred E. Newman, “What, me worry?”
We can fix a lot of what ails the earth, but we have to actually do something other than argue whether planet-wide catastrophe will strike in 30, 50, or 100 years.
The Blackstone River was one of the most polluted rivers in the world 60-years ago. Today you can swim in it, fish for trout, and that water feeds back into our watershed. It isn’t pristine yet, but it will be. This cleanup didn’t happen by itself. The planet didn’t fix it.
People fixed it.
Now, back to those coal-burning generators. Haggling over how much these emissions damage the climate is as stupid as building giant cities in the middle of a desert.
I’m sorry if taking care of our ecology may damage someone’s bottom line, but NOT paying attention will ultimately do more damage to everyone’s ultimate bottom line: staying alive. Air quality is not something about which we should argue. Doctors, climate scientists, and meteorologists agree.
Clean air = GOOD.
Dirty air = BAD.
Overall, climate change is part of a much larger picture of human abuse of Earth. The heating of the earth, loss of potable water, dirty air, melting ice sheets — these are all critical and endangered parts of our ecological system. They are also about your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren — and my children and grandchildren.
If we are going to have future generations, they will need water to drink and air to breathe. We should be planning to make sure they have it.