Tuesday, April 21, 2009
THE ECONOMY OR THE ENVIRONMENT?
There are those who would have us believe that resources and actions must be devoted to solving the world’s financial crisis at the expense of all else. These same people would also have us believe that addressing the issue of climate change and the environment must be put aside in light of this new priority. A recently released poll indicates that the issue of climate change has dropped to position number 20 as far as issues concerning the American public. It is clear that the economic stress has taken a bite out of concern for the environment. However, can we afford to lose sight of what is happening to the climate? Are the issues of the economy and the environment really separate issues? Can we have one without the other?
What is currently going on in the environment? Keeping in mind that everything is happening faster than scientists have predicted, a brief snapshot is as follows: Major Arctic and Antarctic shelves have collapsed which may make it possible for land glaciers to now slip into the ocean; Major rivers around the world are losing water; Icelandic glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate; the Bering Sea may soon be ice free in the summer; The magnetic North Pole is rapidly shifting; the oceans are being depleted of fish; tropical diseases are moving further north and south from the equator; species are dying off at an alarming rate (this time period has been labeled the 6th great extinction); the earth’s population may have already reached its sustainability limit; bird migrations are changing; storm severity is increasing; wildfires are more frequent; droughts and crop failures are spreading; sea levels are rising; drinking water is disappearing, and need I go on?
How can anyone possibly believe that we can address economic issues at the expense of climate change issues? Economies run on resources. If the forests go, there is no wood for houses; if the fish die, there is no fishing industry; if re-emerging diseases start killing everyone off, there is no one to buy the products; if storm severity keeps increasing, all the insurance bail out money is wasted; if crops fail, there is no agricultural industry. Industry would have us believe that getting the economy back on track is achieved by giving more money to banks and freeing up credit. The sad part is that politicians have bought into this argument and they keep giving them more money, but the economy still worsens. They do not want our precious dollars to go into new green companies or concepts because they are not yet prepared to gobble up those dollars. And a result, they have convinced many that it comes down to a choice, the economy or the environment.
President Obama has taken a more holistic approach to solving our major public policy issues. He seems to understand that you cannot treat the disease with a Band-Aid. All facets of life are interrelated and the health of the whole is equal to the sum health of the parts. What will it ‘profit’ us to regain an outdated economy at the expense of quality of life? Are we that selfish that we are willing to sacrifice the planet for a few more years of buying junk? The change that is coming is coming fast. It is not centuries away. It is happening now and may soon, if it has not already, be beyond the most valiant efforts to alter. The brain cannot function without a heart; the economy function without an environment. By our continued focus upon the things of life, we are losing any notion of the essence of life. It is way past time to put away our childish things and to concentrate upon a world at peace with itself and its environment. Blessings to the Earth!