There is No Planet B

7 months ago Citizen#7 0

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand…Carl Sagen

Earth Day is a time to pause and think about the what our stand is.

Here in the US we have a President, Secretary of the Environment, Secretary of Energy, and a Republican Party that either dismisses global warming entirely or makes false arguments about the causes of global warming, talks about sources of carbon dioxide creators like Coal, Fossil Fuels, as “Beautiful”. This isn’t leadership it is pandering to the fears of those who will be out of work if we embrace the truth. It is pandering to those that hold the purse strings to re-election. All of these things are wrong, taking us in the opposite direction we need to follow.

We’ve pushed the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas emissions to 395 parts per million in the Troposphere (the lowest part of the atmosphere, where we live). The estimated levels of CO2 emissions pre – 1750 were 280 parts per million. The result of the increase in CO2 and global warming are already impacting parts of the world including the US.

Driving down the Virginia coast you will see large vertical rulers besides low spots in streets to let drivers know if the water from tidal flooding is too deep to cross. In Georgia Tybee Island is cut off from the mainland because the only road to the island is beneath the sea several times a year. These floods occur in absence of a storm are called “Sunny Day Flooding” by locals. In Miami Beach Florida, voters just passed a 400 million dollar levy to fight the rising ocean tide that threatens to submerge their city.

We can’t stop the melting of the ice of Greenland and part of Antarctica. The rising sea level created from the melting could reach 15 meters or more over the next 100 years, or 49 feet. This is will dislocate 300 million plus people. What will  happen to them? What will happen to governments, and nations? To assume that you won’t be impacted, your children won’t be impacted is just wrong. We will all be impacted by this.

A new high temperature record for the earth has been set consecutively for the past three years. The Northeast has seen a 74%increase in the amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest storms.  To read more about this go here. Extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day [1]. We don’t fully understand what the impact of species loss will have.

There isn’t an easy fix for all of this, just the opposite the damage we’ve done is now being made clear, the ability to “fix” what we’ve done is not something that will likely change the lives of us living today in an appreciable way. What we can do will change the lives of future generations and maybe help us make our stand on earth last much longer.

We need political leadership that will face the challenge global warming head on make decisions based on the best available science not on profit. Like the industrial revolution the shift will be painful for some in the short term but in the long run it is absolutely necessary if we are to turn around the global warming phenomena. If we don’t make the changes now to address the coming problem we will leave a dire situation for our children.

Demand leaders do their job and lead. This is exactly the time we need to spend money on science, embrace facts, and make the hard decisions needed to begin the needed change.

Sources:

  1. Chivian, E. and A. Bernstein (eds.)  2008. Sustaining life: How human health depends on biodiversity. Center for Health and the Global Environment. Oxford University Press, New York.
[huge_it_video_player id=”1″]