Compared to other countries around the world, America, at 233 years of age, is relatively young. The contentious debate over climate change, and even the fact that we are debating the issue, makes us look like ungrateful, selfish little children. To the world, the US must appear like a child stomping his feet on the floor, with his fists in the air, arguing with his mother about the toys strewn all over the floor. “They are not mine! I didn’t do it! It’s not even a mess! What about Tommy? You should see his room! Mine is clean compared to what his looks like! I shouldn’t have to do anything until he cleans up his mess first!” Sound familiar?
Climate statistics and figures aside – can’t we all agree that there are consequences to our actions? If you start the day off arguing with people doesn’t that negativity usually come back to you one way or another? If you eat a few hundred more calories a day then you burn off, doesn’t that start to add up? How can we possibly think that blowing off the tops of mountains, polluting our water sources with toxic chemicals, and belching smoke into the sky has few or no repercussions for our health or the environment?
One of the most recent examples of environmental karma is the H1N1, or swine flu. Swine flu is suspected to have originated in a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste. The outbreak was linked to pig farms that polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak.
What if the scientists are wrong and the unprecedented rates of global climate change and their ramifications are incorrect? So what?! Doesn’t the concept of peak oil sound probable? And if we don’t think it will happen in our lifetime, do we really want to be beholden indefinitely on the Middle East for our oil? Why not rely on the sun when the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth’s surface in one hour is enough to power the entire world for a year?
Investing in green technology will cost money, but it doesn’t mean that taxes or the deficit will increase; rather it is a matter of realigning our priorities. We could stop giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies for exploration and CEO salaries, and instead invest those dollars into new technologies. Those dollars could stimulate previous manufacturing hubs, like Detroit who has people with technical and manufacturing experience, and train them to build and install solar panels. Instead of spending money on unemployment benefits, we could employ American citizens to create cleaner, less expensive, alternative energy solutions. The $80+ million spent on crashing a spacecraft into the moon, could have bought a lot of solar panels!
I think we need to look to our own mothers for advice on where to go from here. In homes all across America, you can probably find these golden rules, posted on the refrigerator, stitched on a canvas, or painted on a kitschy decoration.
Golden Rules for Living
If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess clean it up.
We should also adhere to the ultimate Golden Rule, of which there are versions in at least 21 world religions, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Like many of our own mothers, Mother Nature has been incredibly patient, kind, and generous to us over the years. It is time to say we are sorry and make our amends before it is too late.
We need to stop debating this issue, treat each other and the earth with compassion, take responsibility, and clean up our mess!
To see what others are saying about climate change, visit www.blogactionday.org.