“The principal energy sources of our present industrial civilization are the so-called fossil fuels. We burn wood and oil, coal and natural gas, and, in the process, release waste gases, principally CO2, into the air. Consequently, the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing dramatically. The possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect suggests that we have to be careful: Even a one- or two- degree rise in the global temperature can have catastrophic consequences… We do not understand the long- term effects of our course of action.” — Carl Sagan, Cosmos (1980)
In 2017, nearly four decades after the first airing of the famous series “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan’s seeming uncertainty would not be such today. Despite the lies of fossil fuel think tanks and conservative talking heads, there is solid consensus within the scientific community that humans are burning fossil fuels cause the changing climate of Earth. When these fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that effectively creates a gaseous bubble around the planet that does not allow the heat energy to escape our atmosphere back out into space and therefore trapping that excess heat within our planetary ecosystem. This will cause global temperatures to rise leading to multiple feedback loops that will build upon each other and at length make his planet uninhabitable for humans — if we want to live on the surface at least.
Have a look:
This reality and the tangible evidence that we already see is why there must be no more so-called “debate” about our role in the destruction of every living system on this planet. We must recognize and accept responsibility for what our society of consumption is doing to the world around us. We must move with an utmost impetus upon the task of modernizing our infrastructure so as to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible as quickly as possible.
Here in Kansas cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) is causing warnings and closures at various lakes. One of those affected is Milford Reservoir, which according to the Kansas outdoors website is the largest lake in Kansas. There is the expansion of invasive species, longer droughts, warmer temperatures and less snow.
According to the NASA climate website, CO2 levels are at 405 parts per million; there’s been a 13% per decade decrease in sea ice, and we’re losing 281 gigatonnes of land ice every year. That land ice is like adding ice cubes to your full glass of water — and that water pouring out over your metaphorical glass is the oceans inundating American cities along the coast. U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Ocean Service website says that 39% or over 123 million people live in these towns. While some Kansans may like to make jokes about New Yorkers and Californians; the joke may be on the snide because those ‘big city folk’ are just going to move inland. Some may decide to move as far inland as possible too.
Levity aside, our actions are destroying the only planet that we can inhabit. No one will say that Kansas alone has caused our current situation nor that Kansas alone can save the Earth, but neither of these facts abdicates us from the personal responsibility that each of us has for our lifestyle choices and the adverse effects of those decisions. And it’s all about our choices.
Some of those choices are cliché, but they are that for a reason. Turning off our lights, putting trash in the garbage and recycling in the recycling; not throwing trash out our car windows, don’t get a plastic bag for your store purchase if you can carry it in your hands. Some of it is simple. There is also the larger choices such as what companies to give your hard-earned dollars to, what companies treat their employees well or exploit them and who gets your vote of trust to make sure the world your children inherit will provide them with a stable, sustainable and survivable environment.
Much of the 2016 presidential campaign was about the feeling of abandonment that the people feel. We feel like the elected officials have abandoned us, that the companies that once paid a substantial wage have abandoned us and that these two entities have worked together to create this scenario of powerlessness.
Just imagine how abandoned our future generations will feel if we leave them a planet decimated, desolate and irreversibly destined to doom their hopes of having a thriving society.
Efforts at articulation here are tough.
Honestly, there are only so many ways to say that we’re making the Earth uninhabitable for humans. (Would it make people happier if there was a “smiley” emoji here?)