Last week the President announced that he was revoking America?s involvement in an international agreement whereby the USA, along with other western nations, would agree to limit industrial pollution. He reasoned that following the terms of the treaty would effect the US economy. Well okay he?s right. It costs money to make factories cleaner, machines more efficient, industry less wasteful…but we live in the richest country in the world. Shouldn?t we be prepared to spend that money? Bush is espousing a short term gain at the expense of a long term problem.
I am fond of quoting a statistic for which I have long forgotten the exact numbers but it goes something like this: The USA contains but 2% of the world?s population yet uses nearly 50% of the world?s non-renewable resources! Look at it this way. You and 99 of your best friends set off on a journey with backpacks and you have to carry everything you need with you: food, socks, batteries, condoms etc. One day you suddenly realise that two of the people on the trip are using up half of the supplies you have – sooner or later you?re going to have to start rationing food, clean clothes, sex and use of the Discman because of the greed of these two people. You sit down and talk it out and everyone agrees this is not cool. But then one of the greedy ones, a guy called George, says he?s welching on the agreement because it doesn?t suit him. Doesn?t that strike you as completely unfair?
Some say we have much to learn from the way Native Americans regarded the earth. (Of course we?d have much more to learn from them if we hadn?t killed most of them off and sent the remainder into barren and useless parts of the country). One of their sayings is: We don?t inherit the earth from our parents, we have it on loan from our children. I don?t have kids but I watch with awe the love and compassion with which my friends dote over their little ones as they lift them into their gas guzzling SUV’s to take them to the mall to buy some Evian. Yet that very journey inevitably makes the life of that child irrevocably more difficult.
I am a hypocrite. I have two cars and neither one does more than 20 mpg. I looked at the EV1 before I bought my last car but you can?t buy it – only lease it. Toyota has a hybrid on the market which does over 70 mpg but there?s a waiting list and it is the UGLIEST car I have ever seen! I need to practice what I preach.
Yesterday morning?s paper has a beautiful picture of B15A…the official code number for an iceberg which has just broken off Antarctica. This B15A is the size of Rhode Island! It contains enough frozen fresh water to supply the USA for three years…that?s a lot of Evian baby. The big question is: is this another sign of Global Warming or is this part of a huge weather cycle that has been going on far longer than the human race has been keeping records? We could wait decades before we really know the answer to that one. But it doesn?t take a scientist to figure out that something must be happening to the world.
It is LESS THAN 200 YEARS since Lewis and Clarke first walked across the USA. I believe they lit their first rather smoky fire in Fort Clatsop in 1806. So, when you jump into that comfy seat and fly at 36,000 feet coast to coast through the ozone as you watch Bagger Vance and drink imported, bottled Alpine Water in your disposable plastic glass and get terminally bored by Matt Damon?s golfing histrionics, you decide to look out the window and what do you see? Roads, towns, cities, factories churning smoke and steam that create their own micro weather systems, vapour trails from jets going the other way. Wherever you look there?s something man created and it?s all been done in the last 195 years…most likely in the last 100 years! That?s incredible really. It?s a lot of work, a lot of passion and determination and dreaming and scheming…and a lot of damage too.
Ever heard of the butterfly effect? Supposedly a scientist sat at his computer and tried to figure out what would alter the climate in the Atlantic and the Pacific. He was fiddling around with some figures that pertained to a small part of the rainforest in South America somewhere. He spilled some coffee on his computer (whether it was a single latte or a double decaf is not recorded) and accidentally changed the computer model by the tiniest fraction as he cleaned the sticky brown-ness from his keyboard. The result was astonishing. As if a butterfly had decided on a whim to fly East instead of West the weather on both oceans was changed.
And here?s the point to all this. That butterfly could be a recycled empty coke can, one car-pool ride, one re-chargeable battery, one less chunk of ice in your soda. It doesn?t matter if our name is George or Georgette, anyone of us could make the decision that could save the world.