Humanity’s concern for the environment and for global warming goes back at least three decades. In 1988 some world leaders identified global warming as their biggest concern. Margaret Thatcher referred to herself as a green prime minister. George H.W. Bush said he would be “an environmental president” if elected. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed a Minister of the Environment who said that “global warming…threatens the survival of our species.”
Climatologists attending a climate conference in Toronto issued a press release “declaring that global warming represented a threat to human survival, second only to nuclear war, and called for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1988 levels in fifteen years,” writes David Suzuki in the introduction of the revised edition of The Sacred Balance, Rediscovering Our Place in Nature.
We were becoming aware of a new planetary crisis. A climate crisis was looming. Surely we would take immediate steps to address this challenge.
Dr. Luis Contreras is a new contributor to Below2ºC. We are pleased to welcome him and feature this first article.
We are the air, we are the water, we are the soil, we are the Sun. – David Takayoshi Suzuki
We are lost in the middle of a chaotic world, explains Dr. David Suzuki, a brilliant environmental activist, Canada’s “science guy.” In his breakthrough book, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature, Suzuki explains how humans evolved from naked apes to highly dangerous animals pretending to be masters of the universe. Human DNA is similar to dogs, cats, and all other mammals. But humans kill for revenge, greed, or pleasure, the only trophy hunters in the animal kingdom.
In the beginning, a small number of homo sapiens lived amongst faster and larger animals with small brains. Humans learned to talk and were curious and creative. Playing with rocks they discovered fire and started burning trees. They killed whales to light lanterns and found oil-making holes in the ground. To extract more oil Americans started fracking, polluting the air and water even more. Fracking was supposed to make big profits, but the real cost of a barrel is higher than the price it brings. Americans’ taxes subsidize fracking while the budget deficit skyrockets.
Forests and wetlands are easy targets. Most of the old growth forests have been destroyed, and logging has gone wild to fill campaign promises and pay back generous contributions.
A Yale University survey shows more than 70 percent of Americans agree we must limit global warming. The climate emergency is real, but the chaos is larger than the climate disruption. New research shows the frequency and severity of heat waves will get worse. Sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, crop failure, and water scarcity are driving countries to stop the flow of climate refugees. Poor islands and developing nations are seen as collateral damage.
Inaction is a criminal response
There are two main forces driving inaction. Air, water, and soil are sacred gifts of nature. But frackers, miners, loggers, and land developers see the sacred as inconvenient externalities. The GOP mindset is all about money. Our priceless sacred gifts of nature are seen as worthless because no money is involved.
The goal is clear, but people are easily distracted by daily events and short-term rewards. The 24/7 media and twitter-man keep Americans glued to the TV and silent, with no time to think, read, or act.
Fear, greed, and hate are unspoken reasons for inaction. We are facing an ethical crisis where future generations are helpless victims. [a recent post explores fear as a motivator]
Nature knows best
Nature is full of surprises and discoveries are waiting to be found. The inventor of DDT got a Nobel Prize before Rachel Carson found the cumulative effect was killing bald eagles. After banning the use of DDT for decades, the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary found 1,070 occupied bald eagle nests in Virginia. Nature finds a way.
The power of NO
After 35 days our fearless leader learned a new word. In addition to meaningful incentives for electric vehicles and solar energy systems, and carbon fees and dividends to discourage emissions, we ask our Congress¹ to demand NO coal, NO fracking, NO pipelines, NO tariffs on solar panels and NO restrictions on net energy metering, NO rollback of environmental protections for coal power plants and fuel efficiency.
Young Colorado plaintiffs seek a review of their fracking and climate case after Colorado Supreme Court judge’s racist comments. The lead plaintiff is Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. Laurie Booras called another judge in the case “a little Mexican.” Booras’s last day is January 31, and her hateful comments gave the plaintiffs one more chance.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the Trump administration until Feb. 1 to file its opening brief in its attempt to short circuit the landmark constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. the United States.
Climate crisis is Code Blue
With a firm commitment and funds, we stand a chance to limit warming to 1.5˚C and avoid a catastrophic 2˚C. The planetary crisis requires immediate attention. Every day wasted lowers our chances of survival and increases the threat.
Time is not on our side.
This Opinion piece by Dr. Luis Contreras was first published in the ES independent.
The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
David Suzuki, Second edition, 2007.
Suzuki explores human society’s impact on the natural world for the planet and the people living on it.
Monarchs coming back to Mexico’s sanctuaries in 2019
Rachel Carson, 1962
Unintended consequences of chemical products. Detrimental effects of chemical pesticides on the environment, and on humanity.
Emily Benson, Bioaccumulation
Contaminants reverberating throughout the ecosystem
Trump wetlands rule rollback makes about 6 million acres in Florida unprotected