Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate Change: The Real Problem

"Responsibility. What's that? Responsibility. Not quite yet." - MxPx, "Responsibility"

I just read an article on the recent decline in public concern over climate change. And what a doozy it was! Be sure to read some of the comments below the actual post, as some of the readers have some fascinating commentary.

In recent years, we have all been bombarded with talk of carbon emissions, melting ice caps, rising oceans, increases in temperature, deforestation, ozone depletion... the list could go on forever. Oh, and don't forget Hollywood's continual exploitation of apocalyptic theories, a la "2012" (in theaters now), "The Day The Earth Stood Still," "Knowing" and even ABC's new prime-time hit, "V."

But what's the real problem? In my opinion, it rests with the acceptance of responsibility of our actions - a problem of much grander proportions that straddles many issues. And when I say "our actions," I'm not talking about the current generation, I'm referring to our actions as human beings and inhabitants of Earth, the only home we have.

Who cares about the specific levels of CO2 or the accelerating rate of climate change? We can argue the data for centuries. The point is that we need to accept responsibility for our actions and set a dignified example that we respect our planet. And the United States needs to be a leader in this process, NOT a follower as in recent years.

Create alternative energies, clean up our cities, plant a tree for every one that's cut down and, most importantly, change our current lifestyle to fit one that is in harmony with natural resources, as opposed to exploiting them for our own personal gain, which is what got us into this literal and figurative environmental "mess."

Thomas Friedman, critically-acclaimed New York Times writer and author of The World is Flat, wrote a piece for the NYT magazine, entitled "The Power of Green." It's a long article, but definitely worth the read. In it, Friedman discusses the importance of "the China price," a sustainable world economy and the perils associated with the USA's dependency on foreign oil. But the premise behind his entire argument is a proactive responsibility that is currently lacking in our society, and across the globe.

So as we continue to wage pointless political wars over whose side has more credibility - the left or the right, liberal or conservatives - we drive our gas-guzzling machines, hopelessly destroy our planet to drill for oil and build structures designed to crumble.

The carelessness never ends.

It's the "Boiling Frog Syndrome" screaming right in our faces, but to which we are unfortunately deaf. The only question left to ask is: will we be able to wake up in time to counteract the damage we have already done and slow the processes which we have placed in motion? We can only hope the answer is "yes," and do everything in our power to make changes in our own personal lives.

The decision is yours. Will you make it?

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