25 October 2012

One Glaring Omission

The two presidential candidates did not mention global warming even once in the three debates. The climate is the biggest problem we face and it is closely linked to our economies and our lifestyles, but neither man has the guts to say so. I can only assume they have no intention of doing anything about it if elected.

I use the term global warming as opposed to climate change because the earth is warming and it augurs more than just a natural change. Careful measurements show that the average temperature of the earth as a whole has been rising steadily and precipitously since the beginning of industrialization based on petrochemical power. This warming in unmistakable and undeniable.

Already there are troubling consequences, the biggest of which is the near disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic during the summers. Ice reflects sunlight back into space but the lack of ice heats up the water, which in turn heats up the air. This heat gets trapped by the greenhouse gases which we are pouring into the atmosphere at alarming rate. We are already in a feedback loop that threatens severe and accelerated warming.

There are other consequences. Tropical life-forms are moving into Texas and the Southern states, bringing with them diseases that formerly did not affect us. The best known of these is West Nile Fever, a virus-caused disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It has no cure. The heating and increasing acidification of the ocean is killing the coral reef off the Texas coast. The reef is at the base of the feeding chain of a rich bio-system which will die without it. The sea level is beginning to rise and increasingly intense storms buffet populations in summer and in winter. The warmer atmosphere holds much more water, so precipitation, whether as rain or snow, is more intense and damaging.

You must not be lulled by any spells of cooler weather. The warming of the globe will lead to localized cooling in some areas. Besides, the weather always fluctuates, but now it is fluctuating along an ascending curve of temperature. Things will become more drastic than any of us imagine if we do not stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere. Whatever the underlying natural climate variation may be, we are magnifying it many times over by all the activities that put carbon into the air.

The only people who benefit from this state of affairs are the oil companies and their investors. They will not change what they do of their own volition and the government clearly will not tackle them. There is to much money involved in the process of getting elected and our elected "representatives" are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them.

You and I are the only ones who can do anything about it. We must stop buying petroleum-based products: gasoline and plastics (which are highly toxic, by the way) primarily. We do this by moving entirely to electrical cars as quickly as possible. We can refuse to buy plastics to the fullest extent possible as we speak. Such measures are just a band aid, however. On a longer term basis we must redesign our cities so that soon we can walk or bike to where we shop and work and use public transportation to places further away. Starting now we can eat all natural, organic foods and put industrialized farming and cattle raising to a permanent rest, along with processed foods. Finally we can change from an economy based on consumerism and "growth" to one based on small business, the professions, and the arts. We can't all do all of this at once, but we must get a start on whatever of it we can now. You will be healthier and feel happier for it.

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