Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Green Day for America - Here's Hoping

Cloudy, still, low hanging clouds; cold but not frigid.

Most environmentalists have been counting the days, even hours, waiting for today; the changing of the guard if you will. And we're hoping that this new President will actually guard us.

Guard us from what? Our own selfish selves basically. We, humans that is, have run our environment into the messy ground. For the last one hundred years we have taken, taken , taken with nary a look back over our shoulders. The environment is such a mess that looking back isn't necessary now because it's in front of you (careful, you'll trip), like the big gorilla in the room.

The new administration thankfully dares to use the "s" word, sustainability. They recognize that you can no longer keep using resources without adequately replacing what you have "taken". We can not continue on this current course without certain human destruction. And thank goodness, we have some folks who get this.

Oh come on now, right? Really? It's not so bad... let's review our basic needs:

1 - Water - "the governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency due to water shortages; salmonella contaminated municipal water in Colorado; and eight states ratified the Great Lakes Basin Compact, an agreement designed to ensure that Great Lakes water, nearly 20% of the world's freshwater, won't be shipped beyond those basins -- not even to nearby Minneapolis or Pittsburgh." Overseas: "Global water consumption has roughly doubled since World War II, and yet, according to the United Nations, 1.1 billion people still have no access to a clean, reliable supply. Eighty percent of disease and deaths in developing countries -- more than 2.2 million people a year, including 3,900 children each day -- are caused by diseases associated with unsanitary water. The cost of waterborne diseases and associated lost productivity drains 2% of developing countries' GDP each year." In addition, our waters are polluted with chemicals with known and unknown affects to human health.

2 - Air - World wide air pollution is the worst in human history. Witness China's juggle for the Olympics this past summer. Asthma, that barely existed 50 years ago, is common place. Winter ozone levels , that previously did not exist, are increasing, including the top of Mt. Everest. Great American cities continue to increase their polluted rankings.

3 - Energy - Most of our world energy comes from heavily polluting fossil fuels and nuclear. We've been down this road before, there is no such thing as "clean coal". Just take a look at the recent TVA spill. These are not, I repeat, not long term sustainable options for our very future existence.

4 - Food - Let's start with the basics, there isn't enough of it. Well, at least for millions of people. And maybe too much, for now, for some others. But in the meantime, we are making a mess of it. We have eroded soil, contaminated food supplies - with everything from toxic pesticides to salmonella, and reduced our biodiversity to the point of species extinction(like the banana believe it or not). Genetically modified crops have contaminated our corn to the point, that some scientists say, of no return. There's so much more on this topic, but hopefully you get the picture - this isn't sustainable.

The four basic groups that I just mentioned are pretty special, in fact, they are essential to life. We must make a u-turn in our destructive direction for this path is unsustainable. I believe this new administration under Obama can direct that u-turn with the help of dedicated scientists, enthusiastic environmentalists and eager entrepreneurs. Today is a day of renewal - a new green day for America - here hoping.

No comments: