Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dearth Day, part 1

Dearth Day

Earth day 2009 dawns. How deceptively benign the season appears. In New England, spring is coming on in alternations of rain showers and ever warmer sun shine. Many mainstream media outlets have sprouted a "green" page or blog. A fog of words greener than heavily fertilized lawn ascends until we, the most damaging consumers, can convince ourselves that things are turning in the right direction and we are shopping green to save the planet. Lest we call it a tax, "cap and trade" is murmured in our legislative chambers. Advertisers stretch language and sense to the breaking point to classify their wares as eco-friendly in some way. I survey and repeat the bad news here just to mark what I think is the state of the earth and to justify what I may do about it. Beyond fluff and posturing, there is a dearth of good news. There are things that we could do to avert the worst scenarios...we simply won't do them.

But those darned thermometers and satellites keep alarming those darned scientists. Every denial of our planet's warming, and particularly every denial of humanity's role in that warming is overturned and refuted with fresh reports and studies in every week's crop of journal articles. And still a Google search for "climate change hoax" finds over half a million matching web pages.
The polar bears are drowning for want of ice and 2500 year old pinion pines are finally meeting their end in heat and drought. Did you note the latest observations of atmospheric probes? They show that the recession is the only thing in recent history that actually set emissions back a notch. That is not the solution most were looking for, I suppose. In Washington DC, it is at last official: the CO2 you and the coal burning power plants exhale is a pollutant that will [already has!] harm your health. No scientist worth listening to [Sorry Freeman, you iconoclasm looks like pure ego trip from where I sit] doubts the combustion products spewed thoughtlessly for prosperity's sake are baking the planet. Neither engineers nor economists have a realistic plan to brake the machinery of climate destruction. We have collectively posed ourselves the false choice of prosperous vs. pristine. We will bear more children, building and burning where ever locally possible and not feeling responsible personally for the global changes that result.

We are supposed to think of the earth today, our only home. I don't like the word sacred very much becuase its general use is to put the questionable beyond question. However, since we have only this one planet to live upon and since the alternative to living sustainably is living unsustainbly, i.e. running out of crititcal resources and dying a grinding, bitter extinction, perhaps accelerated by uselessly waring over the dwindling supplies...sacred really ought to be the status we accord our environment. We are supposed to think of the earth one day a year. But all we can do that would actually help in the long run is to change how we think about ourselves and our gratifications. What earth needs is very simple and almost impossible: fewer and more responsible humans. That 70% reduction in greenhouse gases, now the number put out as our last best hope, is not a program the present herd of humans is disposed to mount. be continued in later installments...