Goodbye Global Warming?

November 27, 2009

So hackers got hold of tons of e-mails showing that, apparently, scientists and others have been lying about climate change all along.
   It doesn’t surprise me. There was big money in climate change, and while these hijacked e-mails are not the last word on the subject, nothing people do to make money by hook or crook surprises me anymore.
   What worries me is that if the whole global warming issue was nothing but a hoax, what extremes will we go to now in our security that it isn’t happening?
   You’ll recall that I’ve always been a moderate about climate change, taking the position that it’s really unprovable since we haven’t been recording temperatures accurately for very long, and that the earth does make cyclical climate changes naturally. My position has always been that we should curb, in a gradual process, our emissions into the atmosphere because no matter what, they just aren’t good for living creatures.
   This change, I have always preached, should be slow and deliberate, to neutralize hardship on the economy and individuals.
   But if global warming was a hoax concocted to make lots of money on alternative energy and other ventures, I fear we will not pay heed to what we have done or should do to diminish pollution.
   The colonization of the Americas has been a storybook of environmental destruction for five centuries. It was once said that a squirrel could travel by trees from one edge of North America to the other without ever touching ground. Europeans came to this continent in search of land and resources, and got both in abundance. Their own nations were pretty much ravaged already, and the industrial revolution would further devastate Europe. In the Americas, some 95 percent of the indigenous population died of diseases they had no resistance to, and the remaining peoples were nearly completely systematically annihilated.
   But what happened before is only important insofar as what we are left with, and assuring we don’t continue the process. We need to clean up our act, not by leaps and bounds that will cause us to pay thousand-percent increases in fuel costs, cars and food, but by careful, well thought out progress.
   Again, no one’s sure about climate change, and really, we can’t be, ever. But we can make sure we’re not filling the atmosphere with noxious chemicals that are detriments to living creatures, especially ourselves..
   Since the oil price explosion and the fear of impending environmental legislation that was, granted, not well thought out, automakers have introduced vehicles that are simply astonishing. They do have their problems, such as in many cases it takes more energy to manufacture them than they’ll save over their usable lifetimes, thus expend more BTUs and more harm to the environment at the origin. But they have demonstrated that the technology is there, even if in its infancy. It needs to be advanced…carefully, and with wisdom.
   We’ve come a long way already. Just in our own area, no longer is Bayou Teche littered with dead fish every few weeks as it was when I was growing up. The birds of prey have returned to our skies, and across the nation we’ve largely stopped decimating forests. We’ve done well.
   That took decades, and logically, the rest of it should take decades as well. Legislations such as cap and trade only burden the wallets of the average Joe, and accomplish little except make some people rich at our expense.
   Certainly, I’d like to see a world where forests are quadrupled in size, where more wilderness is protected, where our dependency on foreign oil is eliminated followed by our dependency on oil at all. I’d love to live to see the bobwhite return to the South, the Atchafalaya basin restored, the coasts rebuilt. But it takes time. You can’t undo five centuries of devastation quickly.
   I, as an individual, cannot exist without wild places, clean air, great tall trees and fresh, living water. And I maintain my stance that no one – corporations, government, anyone – has the right to take that away from me or the community as a whole. It doesn’t matter if a segment of the population doesn’t give a rip about forests and rivers; I don’t give a durn about how much money they make, they’re free to do so…so long as they don’t begrudge me my right to the ecology. Fair is fair.
   It is unbelievable how fast, with just axes and adzes, the colonists deforested America. How quickly fish populations were decimated, game sent to extinction and entire landscapes altered forever. How introduced species as seemingly innocuous as the pig and cow completely wrecked and transformed entire regions of thousands, millions of square miles. In our mechanized society, we have the capacity for a thousand fold worse.
   If climate change was a hoax, I am relieved, to be sure. I had no financial stake in it except what might have been forced upon me, but I do have a philosophical, moral and heartfelt stake in the world around me, and I hope we can preserve what little we have left passionately and responsibly.