A Plea For The Planet

In observance of Blog Action Day for Climate Change below are excerpts from several articles that I wrote in 2005 and 2006.  I haven’t written much about the environment since then, because writing what I know to be so in this case is simply too painful and difficult to write.  When I went back and re-read these pieces, I found that sadly, they are  still valid today, in fact even more so with the evidence of global warming and climate change that has been gathered in the interim.  And so, I again share with you these thoughts and implore you to take these words to heart.

From There Is No More Time (March, 2005):

All evidence suggests that our lives and that of our planet are in grave peril. If we are to survive, we must immediately dismantle the forces of greed and power that are destroying our lives in the toxic pursuit of empire. It is our refusal to face the realities of global warming and our continued illegal use of Depleted Uranium that are the true terrors of our time. Our governments and the corporate empires they defend must be compelled to cease and desist from all forms of violence against our earth and its inhabitants, to work towards mitigating the damage done and to begin creating a livable future.

The environmental imperative of our situation cannot be ignored. The impact of global warming is accelerating. Levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have risen abruptly in the last two years. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and its polar ice cap has shrunk up to 20% in the last three decades; the ice cap is expected to disappear altogether by the year 2070.  Our land, air and water are polluted with toxins and waste to the point where they can no longer sustain life. Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, glaciers are melting.

As global warming continues to affect the life of our planet, the results will be devastating. Water will become scarce in some parts of the world while others will be flooded by rising seas as the polar ice caps melt. Rain forests are likely to dry out and burn and parts of the world will become much hotter even as others become much colder. Droughts will cause starvation, oceans will become more acidic and less hospitable to life and diseases like malaria will spread easily.

Studies and reports have been issued telling us that temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought and that we have reached the tipping point in global warming that we had sought to avoid. There is the grave possibility that within as little as 10 years, we will reach the point of no return. Once that point is reached, the risk of abrupt uncontrollable climate change is expected to increase according to the recent report “Meeting The Climate Challenge”.

Each year, more and more people die unnecessarily of the cancerous impact of our toxic behavior, of preventable starvation, of disease and because of the misguided priorities of violence. War rages because of greed and the desire for domination. The pandemic quest for power and honor cuts an ever-widening swath of violence and degradation. Millions of people have been killed, wounded, trafficked, sexually assaulted and left homeless. And always, it is women and children who are most victimized.

It is precisely our disconnection from our ecological support systems that allows us to commit warfare.

It is the most perverse of ironies that the military forces that claim to defend us are responsible for most of the violence and environmental degradation that is destroying our world. These forces are inextricably tied to the ethos of corporate and national empire building that values the hoarding of resources over the common good.

This perilous and lethal greed is no longer tolerable and it is imperative that we come together in insisting on an end to planetary destruction and full commitment to creating a fair and sustainable future, with full and equal voice for all, most especially those who have born the brunt of the impact of the patriarchal irresponsibility.

Delay is no longer acceptable or possible, there is no more time.

We’re Melting (in its entirely) (December, 2005):

One wonders what the Wicked Witch of the West must have been thinking in that terrifying moment in the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy doused her with water, when she realized that she was melting and no amount of evil spells was going to change that? With the recent deluge of melting glaciers and warming seas, it seems we residents of planet Earth may be reaching a very similar moment.

Our glaciers are melting at an ever quickening pace and there seems to be little we can do to stop it. According to recent studies, the Helheim glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, is melting at a rate much faster than expected. If it continues, Greenland will likely become much smaller and SEAS COULD RISE AS MUCH AS THREE FEET DURING THIS CENTURY. The accelerated melting is attributable to Greenland’s warming temperatures which have risen five degrees Fahrenheit in the last ten years.

One of the most critical side effects of glacial melting is the threat posed to the Gulf Stream which could be shut down by the rising ocean water levels. The Gulf Stream protects Northern Europe from freezing temperatures. THE LAST TIME THE GULF STREAM FAILED, BRITAIN WAS COVERED IN PERMAFROST FOR MORE THAN 1000 YEARS.

A new scientific report by British oceanographers found that the overall movement of the Gulf Stream seems to have slowed down by 30% in the last fifty years. The slowdown is caused by increased glacial melting and warming ocean temperatures. While this has long been expected, scientists are alarmed to see these changes so soon.

Unfortunately, Greenland is only one of the many areas where glaciers are melting. In the Himalayas, whole villages are being destroyed by floodwaters from lakes overflowing with water from melting glaciers. Glacier lake catastrophes used to happen once a decade, now they occur every few years.

Ultimately the Himalayan glaciers will shrink to the point that their meltwaters will die out and the rivers that have been fed by the melting will all but evaporate, causing a severe shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Hydroelectric plants that supply power to the region will also be affected. The region is already experiencing a loss of vegetation that in the long term could lead to starvation for the region’s population.

Ice in the Arctic region is melting as well. If current warming trends continue, WITHIN 100 YEARS THE ARCTIC MAY BE ICE-FREE IN THE SUMMER, something that has not happened in a million years. The melting ice in the Arctic bodes badly for polar bears, seals and other animals in the region.

What scientists stress in all of these situations is that the process of melt-off has reached such a level that it may well be unstoppable; we may be at a point of needing to adapt and respond to the very harsh realities of global warming. A chilling thought.

We are already feeling the impact of global warming in a number of ways. Rising ocean temperatures have caused what scientists term a catastrophic drop in sea and bird life numbers in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of seabirds such as cormorants and fish such as salmon and rockfish are at record lows. Similar events are taking place in the North Sea.

In addition to the impact on our oceans and seas, a recent report found that CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS ARE THE HIGHEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN 650,000 YEARS. The World Health Organization has found that 150,000 DEATHS AND FIVE MILLION ILLNESSES ARE DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO GLOBAL WARMING.

But that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that these stories tend to get buried on page A18 of the newspaper (if they’re covered at all), pre-empted by the latest car accidents, political foibles and other human interest stories.

Climate change should be a Page One headline and at the top of our national agenda as well. Yet our media refuses to connect the dots and we have elected leaders who seem to think we are exempt from global reality. No need to act, just stay the course and keep driving those SUVs up the river De-Nial.

One wonders what part of deep brown smelly stuff our media and pols fail to grasp? Do we perhaps need to send the lot of them to see “Chicken Little” so that they can practice saying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”?

No, best to leave our heads firmly planted in the sand.

From How Hot Does It Have To Get (January, 2006):

My new calendar has a picture of an ice-covered Alaskan wilderness preserve. My throat catches every time I glance at its breathtaking beauty, and I make a mental note to go see this beautiful place soon, before the ice melts.

It is no longer possible to relegate global warming to a theoretical possibility. It is reality. It is 60-degree days in January when it should be six degrees above (in the city where I live, temperatures are running more than ten degrees above normal this month). It is the slowing Gulf Stream, the melting ice. It is the droughts in Africa and Oklahoma, in the Himalayas and the Amazon. It is the rising seas and hurricanes and tsunamis that decimate cities and villages in Indonesia and Louisiana. It is the highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years and the fish and plankton that are dying in the warming seas.

There is no real doubt that this is occurring, only the political impossibility of admitting that not only is it happening, but it is not within our power to stop it, the changes that we are seeing have taken on a life force of their own. It is the life force that our earth has always had, which for a few brief years in the history of the universe, we delusionally thought we had the power to overcome. But the truth that we are faced with now is that it was never ours to control, and our biosphere, our planet, our world has once again taken the reigns in what is to be. Climate change has accelerated to the unstoppable point of no return. The snowball is now an avalanche.

Weather events like last year’s Tsunami and the hurricanes of last fall are surely just a preview of what is to come. Yet we stupidly declare that we can rebuild New Orleans from the ruins of a bayou covered with toxic sludge without more than a cursory examination of the damage done or whether it will ever truly be safe to live there again. We rebuild, stubbornly clinging to the notion that we are the masters of our environment. It does not yet occur to us that it has been a mortal mistake to think that it was ever ours to command.

It is time to make peace with our planet, to apologize for the damage done and to humbly ask for a chance to tend our hearth with mercy, even if we can no longer make amends.

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