“If a mugger knocks down an old lady while snatching her purse, the cause and effect are easy to see. But the cause and effect of nature are harder to fathom.”
Subject: Thoughts on the present environment. What will become of us? What must you, readers to come, cope with?
The modern urban world encases us in a bubble. When, for example, California experiences a drought, we’ll worry about the price of vegetables. But stores will obtain vegetables from elsewhere. We won’t go hungry—not in North America.
A few centuries ago, both rich and poor feared drought. Food didn’t magically appear in the supermarket. They knew they were dependent on Earth’s bounty for survival. Intellectually, we understand drought. But we don’t feel it in our bones as our ancestors did. It’s unreal.
What is real is this world of modules we inhabit. We shuttle from heated and air-conditioned homes to cars to shops and offices. We hunker down in cubicles. We spend hours in the virtual reality of the Internet. Modern science has amassed evidence about climate change while, simultaneously, creating an environment that distances us emotionally from the Earth that sustains us.
If a mugger knocks down an old lady while snatching her purse, the cause and effect are easy to see. But the cause and effect of nature are harder to fathom. Look at glaciers. Ideally, glaciers build up through winter to provide a slow melt in spring. Water trickles off glaciers to nourish the land, allowing vegetation to grow and providing people with drinking water. So glaciers are melting more quickly now. The water’s still there, isn’t it?
Increased speed means fresh water is lost. Think of holding a cup under a faucet, then absentmindedly turning on that faucet full blast. Instead of filling the cup gently, water bounces off the bottom of the cup, spraying everywhere. Water is wasted. That’s just one effect of glaciers melting. What causes glaciers to melt? Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere holding in too much heat.
We talk about global warming. We don’t often talk about global dimming. After 9/11, planes were grounded for days. Skies were brighter since jet exhaust wasn’t there to block sunlight. Thus more light reached more plants spurring growth. Growth means plants can take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and return more oxygen to it.
What do we do? We listen to the Earth and act upon that information. Dear gentle readers of the future did we get it right? And are you listening to her?