I don’t know where you live, but here, in the UK, we had the wettest summer for 30 years with flash floods in many areas. This followed the driest winters for years, near empty reservoirs and a hosepipe ban. There were record droughts across the grain belt in America, worldwide crop failures, worldwide floods, wild fires in Spain and the US, and record ice melt at the poles and Greenland. As I write this, in early November, it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale outside and our son has just phoned to tell us that there is a blizzard where they live in Dorset. I could go on but I am sure you get the picture.
Where we live the fields that surround us are so wet that any farmer taking a tractor out on them would, at the present rate, only be able to drive it back next April; any harvest that remains will rot in the fields and the UK has recently had an Environment Agency alert to be aware of flooding due to the saturated fields being unable to absorb more water. Time after time and month after month we are experiencing once in a century events. Floods, droughts, rainstorms, all coupled with rising sea levels, the changes in the Gulf Stream, (Atlantic Conveyor) the movements in the Jet Stream and the horror that the US has only just experienced with Hurricane Sandy.
Forget Star wars, let’s face the facts, the environment strikes back at our way of life.
There seems to be a mindset in the Western World that it is our God given right to consume, that the earth has no limits, that we can extract what we like, emit what we like, produce what we like, consume what we like and waste what we like. This mindset has been built by, and ruled by, and run in favour by many of the mega companies that have the financial power, and so the political power to rule in their favour. If you think that is an exaggeration then just remember the power that Rupert Murdoch and his News Organisation had over UK governments. What Murdoch said went, and it was only when his company finally stepped so far over the mark that the situation was blindingly obvious that the whole obscene operation came to light.
We live in a society that is addicted to consumption. In the UK we are regaled by the main political parties about the need to increase our national growth via consumption, the desire is, we are told, to increase national prosperity, but how do you measure prosperity? Is it the need to have what we are told we need in order to have a happy and fulfilled life? If so, why are so many unhappy and unfulfilled?
I know from my own work that many are addicted to prescription drugs, let alone the illegal ones. From the local recycling facilities it is blindingly obvious that local alcohol consumption has rocketed, and yet we are told what we need to do is to grow the economy by consuming more. So what is needed to cure our financial ills is another dose of what caused our financial ills... Really... is that what will make us all happy?
The dream of our Western life has now hit the realities of the environment. The earth has limits. Society cannot continue to pollute the atmosphere, plunder the earth and go to war for ever dwindling resources of fossilised sunlight. We cannot continue to mortgage our children’s and grandchildren’s future by ignoring these realities, as the American Indians knew, we did not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children and grandchildren.
The sad fact is that this Global Warming (Climate Chaos) environmental disaster has been forecast for many years and yet the population in general seems to be of the opinion that this is but a recent discovery.
In 1965, US scientist Roger Revelle forecasted that by the year 2000 there would be 25% more CO2 in the atmosphere and that this could lead to a modification of atmospheric heat balances and marked changes in climate. Revelle also forecast rising sea levels and melting polar ice. US economist William Nordhaus also wrote at this time about ‘the imponderable side effects on society – coastlines and agriculture, on life in high latitudes, on human health and simply the unforeseen’ if CO2 pollution was unchecked.
So, why was this knowledge not acted upon when there was time?
Much in the same way as the tobacco industry used doubt to counter the claims of doctors and scientists (“our weapon is doubt” was said in a leaked memo) the energy and political lobby groups also used doubt and the views and opinions of ‘doctors’ and ‘scientists’ to do the same. The problems were, so the merchants of doubt informed us, “due to sunspots, volcanic activity, were normal climatic events etc, etc”. Meanwhile the future grew ever closer.
In the UK an ex Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, has said that there is no such thing as Global Warming. In the US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has laughed at Obama’s climate concerns, meanwhile Stephen Hawking, the greatest brain that has ever existed, said that after a nuclear war, the biggest threat to the human race was Global Warming; I know who I would put my money on!
The fact is that the environmental future for our grandson of but a few months will be very different from the environmental life I have been lucky to enjoy, and my hope is that in the future years, when I am probably just an image in a photo, he will read this, because this entire post is for him.
You will wonder H, as will others, why no one did anything about the environmental situation you are now experiencing. The sad fact is that many tried their hardest, but were ignored, decried and laughed at until it was too late to halt it. I would just like you to know that I was one of those that tried their hardest and were ignored, decried and laughed at. I have tried to live as low an impact carbon neutral life as possible.
So when your fellows ask about the environmental situation “Why didn't someone try to do something about it” your answer is quite simple, “someone tried”.