My op-ed piece on climate change, supporting a Green New Deal
Published in The Boulder Monitor Dec. 5, 2018
Editor added this note as introduction: “Green New Deal” is a proposal by a group of U.S. House Democrats to create a committee to address “climate change with a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy for electricity. The proposal comes shortly after the release of a new federal study on the issue of climate change.
Making a Green New Deal our highest national priority is an opportunity to face the most momentous conflict of our time. Earth’s warming is so undeniable, denying it is horrendous sin.
“We have met the enemy and he is us.” The adage is as true now as it was on Earth Day 1970 when cartoonist Walt Kelly’s character Pogo said it.
And who are “we” in the saying? We are humanity, especially first world humanity. We are clearly the enemy of our own future (the “us” in the adage) on planet earth. I cannot overstate the urgency before us to make peace with Earth, our only home.
For years we have fiddled around while significant parts of our Earth burn or flood. We deny as storms come with ever greater intensity, with greater destructive power. Oceans are rising faster than worst case predictions of just a couple years ago. Even leaders who recognize this reality are still speaking of changes over the next few decades. I’m afraid we don’t have decades available to give today’s children a hopeful future. It is time now, nay, it was time yesterday to confront our prodigal way of life. Though still an idea and not yet concrete legislative proposals, a Green New Deal must be enacted that confronts every aspect of global warming now, in months not decades.
Methane is bursting into the atmosphere from melting Arctic permafrost. Delaying action for even a day exacerbates the warming from this powerful greenhouse gas. It brings us (us: enemy of our own future) quickly closer, if not already into, the positive feedback loop that makes warming unstoppable.
Oceans are growing more acidic, threatening complex sea life. Warming causes fish and other creatures to move into locations closer to the poles, changing the ecosystem’s balance. Ocean life is dying, heading toward extinctions, in unexpected ways.
If there is to be a habitable planet for our children and grandchildren; if Earth is to support their sources of food, potable water, or breathable air; if life forms more complex than cockroaches are to have a home on the orb that is our only home we have to surrender. Because we are the enemy of our own future, the planet has to defeat its enemy if we, the enemy, are to live.
We may have to face a drastically altered way of living if we are to sustain living at all. This, in a nutshell, means that we shift away from the fossil fuel economy with all deliberate (or faster?) speed. We shall either find ways to move about without reliance on petroleum or be forced to live within walking distance. Will we alter our lifestyles now, or wait for famine and extinction to do it for us?
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the comic science fiction novelist Douglas Adams told us that the Guide’s notation about Earth’s sentient beings amounted to two words: “Mostly harmless.” I suspect that a revised edition would have to add, “except to themselves.” Must it be this way? Or can we learn and make the necessary changes before it’s too late? Wouldn’t “mostly harmless” be better than “mostly extinct”?
Let’s build support for a Green New Deal, urge our political leaders to act, and move into a sustainable economy. Let’s not continue to be our own worst enemy.