Is there time to save the planet?
The politics and consequences of inaction on planet change
Amidst the mounting evidence that there is something seriously wrong with the planet's ability to regenerate, there are those who insist the crisis is imaginary. Oil company executives insist alternatives to the gas engine will take too long to develop. They whine about profits and competition, meanwhile sneering at regulators and environmentalists.' They pile on more price increases in the face of angry and frightened consumers.
Exxon made 8 billion dollars in profit, in three months. Still they demand the taxpayers reward them with subsidies to find more oil. These greedy oil barons are reminiscent of another, earlier era in which oilmen, railroads, meat-packers, and automakers were given license to run roughshod over anything or anybody that got in the way of profits.
We have failed to protect both present and future generations against consequences of our misuse of natural resources, including the air we breathe, the oceans, and the land. In fact, the problems are not the blame of one administration, but just another in a long history of leaders since the industrial revolution who have ignored the environment.
Well, perhaps ignored is the wrong word. Burning, flooding, mutilating, building over, and trashing the land and rivers may be a more accurate description. We have hunted, trapped, beaten and overworked animals as well as forced extinction of many species on land, in the sky, and at sea.
More is known about the consequences of laying waste to a planet we treat with contempt, arrogance, or indifference. In the late seventies at university the writer took a class on environmental administration as part of graduate studies. All that we are experiencing now was predicted then, such as over-population, world food shortages in rich, as well as in poorer countries, and consequences of a clamoring new, middle class in countries like India, China, and the middle east.
There are serious questions about health care, such as paying for it, and what to do with an aging population encouraged to retire at an age that once made sense, but is not realistic today.
There is an undercurrent of anger that the elderly are using resources that should be set aside for the young. There is little dialogue between opposing groups, such as those who believe there is a sacred right for their gas guzzler suvs' while others seek preservation and lesser use of natural resources.
The beach, waterways and ocean are contaminated with human waste. Plastic bags kill pelicans, seals, and turtles by the hundreds, while discarded sea nets ensnare the unlucky or curious animal or fish. Plastic is mistaken for food and eaten. All is out of balance.
Doctors will tell you that almost everyone will get some form of cancer as they age. You may develop an antibiotic resistant skin lesion that won't go away, a persistent cough, that plagues you and your children. asthma and other respiratory problems are seen routinely in clinics and hospitals are places where one might encounter a life threatening toxin that escaped somehow the most careful procedures to avoid such a circumstance. More people are dying of infections than the disease they wanted cut out.
Weird mutations of life are everywhere, though of course we don't accept them as such. There are hospitals that have kept alive the most monstrous of these for study. These are not animal but human species, and they are every bit as human as their kin.
More people also means more violent and unspeakable crimes against unsuspecting citizens. The resulting fear is played out and milked by the media for profit. Meanwhile, people everywhere are becoming very untrusting of anyone who looks different, is traveling, through, or even speaks to them.
Prisons replace universities and middle schools become training grounds for useless and unproductive workers for which there is no work. The resultant crime causes more incarceration and over-building of prisons, which become engines of consumption and producers of tons of useless waste.
Mass paranoia or hysteria is counter to good health and makes everyone a victim. People need the comfort of others if not their companionship. Even churches feel it necessary to lock their doors at night. Some even lock-up in daylight hours.
The South Seas and Alaska are feeling the effects of global climate change as water is washing away their homes. Glaciers, thousands of years old have melted, adding to the massive sea ice that is impacting wildlife in the north and causing a rise in ocean temperature and resulting weather changes which have not been seen before, at least not in recent history.
It is not political to feel concern for our children and unborn grandchildren. It remains a mystery to me how business, government, and others can continue to ignore the obvious. If it's not obvious, then someone needs to go outside and look around. Seen any rain lately? Or is it flooding in your town? Typhoons in unlikely places, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other amazing phenomena are becoming common.
Drought, pestilence, disease, and hunger, as well as a depleted and barely inhabitable living space, which in some places is marked and stained forever by scars of man's presence is a shameful legacy.
The earth will survive if it rids itself of those those who are determined to destroy it. Maybe the question is, will man survive? Is their time to begin the task of cleaning up the planet and repairing the damage or will our species go the way of other species who could not, or would not adapt?