There still seems to be debate about climate change. I’ve been a greenie since the 70’s. Not a fanatic environmentalist, just a regular person seeing the damage the we have created and doing what I can to change. I riled against the large gas-guzzlers Detroit built even though my father worked in the auto industry. Going to school in Windsor it is hard not to have a “car mentality”. Still I recycled before cities started recycling collection and composted before municipalities provided compost bins.
It not easy living green. I installed a tank-less water heater to eliminated our wasteful hot-water tank. We added solar panels to generate green power. Both costly endeavours with little financial return, yet environmentally friendly. I’ve always felt it is the least I can do. Everyone can do their part but it is difficult for an individual to have global impact.
Today the developing countries are resisting change to combat CO2 emissions. We want to save the Amazon Rainforest and the Congo in Africa, because these represent earth’s lungs cleaning our air. Yet, in North America we deforested the largest deciduous forests when we settled Canada and the US. In Europe deforestation began with the Romans. Industrialized 1st world counties want to slow China’s growth as an industrial power because it would contribute to fuel emission and fossil fuel usage. How can we ask these nations to do what we haven’t been able to do.
Melting polar ice caps are as indisputable as the depletion of the ozone layer in Antarctica. We reversed ozone depletion by reducing fluorocarbons. Melting ice-caps maybe irreversible. Ice is a reflective surface, open seas absorb sunlight. As ice melts less sunlight is reflected more is absorbed leading to more melting and the cycle continues. The cascading effect is nearly impossible to reverse once it begins on a large scale. And there is no denying that it has started. The longer we wait, the faster the process. The melting of the arctic ice will raise sea levels, affect weather world wide, causing erratic shifts in temperature, hurricanes, typhoons, flooding and droughts.
Change is difficult unless there is an immediate need. We have environment problems at a time of devastating economic crisis. Why not take advantage of this to make positive change. During the Great Depression the New Deal resulted in job creation through the building of large hydro-electric plants. During this current economic upheaval we can apply knowledge and labour to create a green economy. Building wind farms and solar generation is not enough. We also need to replace coal powered plants.The only feasible way to generate the power that developing countries and western societies need wihtout harming the environment further is to replace coal powered plants with low emission nuclear plants. This would remove large CO2 and cut fossil fuel usage.
There is disagreement about the degree of climate change and whether we are experiencing global warming or a naturally ocurring hot-house affect. However, the human impact on the planet is undeniable. Governments should use the economic crisis as an oportunity to make real change in our envirnoment by building new infrastructure that is environmentally supportive, rather than technology that damages our environment.