Day 485: Money Versus Survival

“We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at the University of Arizona and a climate change expert of 25 years, told me. “We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm… within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers… This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years.”
For the uninitiated, in the simplest terms, here’s what an ice-free Arctic would mean when it comes to heating the planet: minus the reflective ice cover on Arctic waters, solar radiation would be absorbed, not reflected, by the Arctic Ocean.  That would heat those waters, and hence the planet, further. This effect has the potential to change global weather patterns, vary the flow of winds, and even someday possibly alter the position of the jet stream. Polar jet streams are fast flowing rivers of wind positioned high in the Earth’s atmosphere that push cold and warm air masses around, playing a critical role in determining the weather of our planet. - Salon

This is a very small extract from the original article - I suggest that you read the full article before continuing with my post.

There is no point in trying to argue who is right, when what will happen, if anything will ever happen - we are just going to have to see what happens. What we do know is that there have been recent changes to our weather patterns in that the weather has been more extreme than usual. There may be a few areas that are benefiting from these new extremes, but in general most of the settled world is not enjoying the changes. What we also know is that we are polluting the planet at a very high rate (see China's smog problem) and that there have been visible consequences of this.

An interesting bit of information I learned the other day was that certain kinds of moss will only grow in areas where there is very little pollution - pollution literally kills this moss and prevents it from growing at all. Looking more into the phenomenon has taught me that there are several indicators such as plants and animals whose status tells us about the environment in which they are living - they are called bioindicators.

The planet and nature have both provided clear messages to us that we have been a destructive force to the environment and nature -

Between 150 and 200 species are going extinct daily, a pace 1,000 times greater than the "natural" rate

Call it extinction or genocide - the facts remain the same: we are causing irreparable harm to countless living beings - and I really do mean countless. We do not have the capacity to comprehend the huge number of deaths we have directly contributed toward.

In recent years we have become more and more aware of the destructive nature of our actions, and some small changes to our lifestyle have taken place. Considering the scale of all of our operations on this planet, we need to do a whole lot more than use energy efficient light bulbs. Unfortunately, in order to make the changes required to ensure our survival we would practically have to stop all participation in product production and services like electricity still produced by coal. There have been multiple summits and meetings of national representatives over the decades and many papers have been signed and promises have been made. One of the only things from these summits that has been partially implemented is the stopping of using certain CFC containing/producing materials and processes. Some countries, like America, have repeatedly actually refused to sign treaties and promises to stop using certain harmful materials and production processes.

How much more of this beautiful planet must we destroy before we realize that the cost in lives far outweighs the economic costs of changing the way we live? Must we see our own children die? Must we see our parents die? Must we suffer through illness? Must we live through famine? Must we live through drought? Must we live through rains washing away our communities?

Will we ever be able to do enough to undo the damage we have caused?