laurence turner

the random musings of a fool

14 days

‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation’ – guardian.co.uk

It’s hard to understand why it has taken so long for so little. I can remember the first Earth Day. I was in second grade, quite a long time ago. I expected that environmentalism would be a driving force in in the world by the time I was grown up, and that we’d all live in a cleaner, healthier world. I was wrong. It’s easy to be idealistic and utopian in second grade. When I was in second grade I also assumed that by 2009 I would have traveled to the moon. Well, we all know what happened with that…

We are a disappointing species in some respects. So much ability, so much promise. But when push comes to shove, there are times we don’t live up to our abilities. Are we truly beset by an evil short-sightedness that will forever doom us as a species?

If you want to know why our species is doomed, look no further than George Michael: “All I really need is music, sex, and TV“. That’s a brute-force attack on genetic destiny. That’s betting that just propagating the species is enough to sustain it, when in fact the survival of any species is largely determined by the environment in which it develops and lives.

Now, as the gathering gets underway in Copenhagen, we have learned that some climatologists have fudged their research. Not good for science, and not good for those who hoped to see some movement towards change in environmental policies. Some scientists are rightly outraged. Science, one hopes, will not succumb to politics, but it does, as science is a human endeavor, after all.  If one considers what other scientists have done to deny global warming (see Exxon-Mobil) and other forms of environmental degradation, this is probably a drop in the bucket, but the good guys have lost the high road.

Even if the science about global warming is all bad, the underlying premise of having to conserve resources and lesson pollutants is not a bad thing. We’ve poisoned our world, and weird things are happening to our kids because of it. Is that OK? Are you OK with that? I’m not. I don’t know how even the powers-that-be at Exxon-Mobil can be OK with that, but apparently, they are. Exxon-Mobil alone has spent millions of dollars to overturn the prevailing views of scientists and muddy the waters to the point where the general public are unsure what to make of it all. Profits uber alles.

What Earth Day taught me back in second grade was that we humans are on a little raft of a planet, living in a very thin biosphere, adrift in the vast space of the Universe. Everything about our Earthly existence is finite, including resources. When I was eight years old, I understood this simple truth.

14 days. That’s a big challenge, a call to action, or recklessly hopeful. We’ll see what comes of it. Hopefully, not this.

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Filed under: environment, science

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