Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Search for (Easy) Answers

This Earth Day finds me . . . looking a bit like a big balloon that has had all the air let out of it. Still slightly puffy in spots, mostly wrinkled and worn, but with the potential, however slight, of being inflated again.

Why? Well, I've been reading Thomas L. Friedman's book Hot, Flat and Crowded (available here) and I'm really coming to grips with a few absolute truths:

1. Climate change is WAY, WAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY worse than we ever imagined and the prognosis for our Earth, without DRASTIC changes in the next three years is worse than grim. In fact, describing it as "grim" is like saying Disney World is "kind of fun".
2. Climage change and our energy crisis are linked to, and responsible for, far more societal ills than we realize -- global poverty, terrorism, you get the drift.

3. There are no easy answers. A "green" household cleaner in your cupboard and a celebrity doing an environmental public service announcement during the commercial break of House just isn't going to cut it.

The fourth truth is accompanied by my opinion, or rather my fear.

Truth: The American people as well as China, India, and the rest of the developed or devloping world have the ability (and largely the technolgy and knowledge, or the capability to discovery both before it's too late) to make the large scale changes needed in the immediate and long term future to fix the problem. Moreover, if we employed all the means necessary to fix climate change and the energy problem, we would cause our economy to grow and thrive, reduce unemployment, take a long step toward eliminating poverty, hunger, terrorism, illiteracy, biodiversity loss and a host of other problems. Opinion/Fear: Do we have the political leadership (I'm not just talking about the President, but also the Congress, state and local governments) courageous enough to do what needs to be done AND to educate and motivate the American people for the long, hard, all encompassing changes required? I fear the answer is no, we do not.

So I'm feeling a little down this Earth Day because it's not just a day and it's not just a slogan and it's not a personal choice to "do good things" as long as they don't require too much effort. Without a systems overhaul on the national and then global scale SOON, we are doomed. Doomed in a James Earl Jones voice. So this Earth Day finds me feeling like a deflated balloon, wanted to run under the covers screaming for my mommy, and literally BEGGING God that somehow our President, his energy advisor and enough others in politics will read Hot, Flat and Crowded or otherwise understand the problem of climate change and the energy crisis, its interconnectedness with other global problems, and have the COURAGE and EMPOWERMENT to face the problem head on. The political beast resists revolutionary change and the American people (who have grown metaphorically fatter and lazier than previous generations) want "100 Easy, Cheap Way to Save the Planet". We have what it takes to win this battle which is so much greater than The Great Depression and World War II, but WILL we?

Read the book, take action everywhere possible, spread the word, pray and write your government officials. I don't know what else to say or do within my small sphere of influence to effectuate a green REVOLUTION.

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