When facing illness we give consideration to our health and to our bodies, but before then we take our health for granted. Sandy has engendered a moment of clarity for all of us. Our relationship with the natural world is as intrinsic and as fundamental. Like for our own health, we often don’t give it much thought until crisis comes.
Earth is our home. We have no other.
Sandy is only the latest example of a rapidly changing climate. We can now see and measure the effects; changes like the radical disappearance of the polar ice cap, the increased frequency of droughts and forest fires, and the rise in sea level. These things are no longer a matter of speculation.
Let us see clearly… Taking care of our planet is the defining issue of our times.
As a civilization, we are beginning to understand many of nature’s wondrous mechanism, including those that have shaped the evolution of our atmosphere and climate. We can point to many factors of natural climate change, like the moving of continents and rising of mountains, like earth’s fluctuating relationship with the sun. We also know the greenhouse effect (the collection of gases that act to keep the earth’s heat trapped in the atmosphere) is a natural process, and makes our planet more hospitable for life; without it all of the world’s oceans would be frozen over. Natural processes shape a perpetually changing climate, fostering global tropical conditions to ice ages
The earth’s biosphere has adapted accordingly. Nature endures, will we?
The same cannot be said for the civilization we humans have created. We have harnessed the power of fossil fuels, and in doing so have inserted ourselves as shapers of climate change. Nature has kept CO2 gas in check by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and turning it into buried coal, oil and gas. What took nature hundreds of millions of years, we are undoing in a matter of a few generations by releasing all of that carbon back into the air. It is the main way we are altering the chemistry of our atmosphere, and the climate is beginning to respond. We are now feeling the consequences, but is only the beginning.
It is clear: We must find a better way. We too must adapt.
When other problems arise, like a bad economy or a blossoming federal debt, the environment takes a back seat, as evident by the fact that Climate Change was hardly mentioned in the 2012 presidential campaign. We can argue about the role of government, but even those who give voice to small government, believe the fundamental role of the State is to protect the people from harm.
A destabilizing global climate is the biggest threat we face.
Each one of us has the responsibility to act in whatever way we can. It starts with electing people who understand what we face, but it does not end there. We must educate ourselves and find a way to make a difference.
It is our clarion call.