Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Captain Planet

I read a blog post today written by Bob McDonald RE: Climate Change, as well as the accompanying comments. The post focuses on clearing up the confusion between the extreme weather patterns we are witnessing vs. climate change and the comments focus on praising the post as well as attacking the idea of anthropogenically-driven changes in climate/weather patterns.

My response to talks about climate change and this whole battle between questionable climate data is that we need to stop fighting about what we don't know and stop unloading the onus of having to do anything about pollution on the fact that people are still debating the validity of the claim to anthropogenically-driven climate change and start focusing on what we can change and what we can do and what is happening. We are adding substances to the environment that is disrupting the healthy flow of nature (something I like to call pollution), our fast-paced Westernized cushy lifestyles are the source of a lot of pollution, we are starting to notice the limits of our fresh-water sources, we are starting to lose agriculture land to urban sprawl and deteriorating quality in earth, and we are seeing a rise in cases of asthma due to the declining air quality mainly seen in urban centers. You would think that the health of the human population would be reason enough to do something about pollution.

Working for a First Nations community has made me realize one thing: that we're losing focus on what is really at stake here: Ultimately, we are all fed by the land and water that we interact with on a daily basis both directly and indirectly, whether we see it or not. The point here, though, is that we need to recognize this connection of humans to the Earth (it's a crazy notion, I know, but just bear with me for a few more moments) and recognize that whatever we're doing to the Earth, we're going to feel the effects through one channel or another.

Forget about climate change, erratic weather patterns, the IPCC, Kyoto, emissions targets, what-have-you. Remember that we're all living in the same bubble so take a step back and just think of how you'd want your own home: clean and tidy. How do we keep it that way? We throw stuff out, scrub things down etc. or else our houses would begin to look like a pack-rat's dwelling. Except the difference between the Earth and our home is that besides outer space, there's no where to put our crap. All we are doing right now is re-arranging the placement of our crap and trying to make the Earth absorb it by digging holes, tossing our garbage in, and covering it up. And being the non-smoker that I am, I see pollution of our air/atmosphere as sitting in a closed, unventilated room with a smoker. Sure, the room that is our atmosphere is large, but sit there long enough and invite enough smokers in and you're going to start noticing the haze in the air. The solution to pollution is not dilution.

So I'm not asking people to accept the idea of climate change or admit that green house gases are warming the Earth: I'm simply asking people to recognize that the world is our home with no curb to leave our garbage along and we can only rearrange our waste around our "home" for so long before we're surrounded and we can only carry on so long with our comfortable lives before we start choking on the "smokers" in our "house".

Many people like to justify their inaction by asking, "what difference is one person going to make in the big scheme of things?" But my rebuttal to that is, "well what difference is tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people going to make?" If we continue to just sit and pretend that each of us as individuals can't change anything, then you're right, apparently you can't because you so choose. We are in this together. United we stand, divided we fall. So it doesn't matter if our weather is being weird or that Al Gore flashed a graph showing an exponential increase in our global temperatures or that we don't agree on climate change being a problem because it doesn't matter what temperature it is when there are more and more kids developing asthma as a result of the air we are polluting and when we are running out of places to dump our garbage and when the rich white nations that take up less than 10% of the world population are declaring a water crisis and telling households to conserve water as they consume more than half of the world's accessible fresh water.

Having a positive influence on our planet isn't impossible, it's merely improbable because people choose to see it as impossible.

So we can make a difference: it's just a simple matter of choosing to make that difference.