How on Earth are you helping our planet?
It’s time again for the annual irony of Earth Month.
In our zeal for lumping worthwhile commemorations into discrete months, we will be on our best environmental behavior through April.
Locally, the electronics deposit event at SUNY Fredonia invites us to safely discard most appliances. What a welcome event that is (April 22 — save the date).
During the rest of the year, most of us do our best to be good stewards of this magnificent planet. Despite criticisms that claim recycling efforts sometimes end up in landfills, so why bother … we have faith in the system, and that faith is reinforced every time we write on recycled paper, use a pencil made of recycled materials, or sit on a plastic park bench. These repurposed everyday objects signify our progress as a human race. We are definitely more conscious of our footprint than we were a century ago. Our quest for clean energy policies is a huge footprint on the progressive path.
We do so many things right; why then, do we ever knowingly miss the mark?
There is no doubt climate change is partly a natural process. But it would be foolish to deny the impact 8 billion people have on this stalwart and fragile web of terrestrial ecosystems. Some countries are doing more than others to protect our global home with laws that give priority to clean practices over corporate desires.
The problem isn’t that there are 8 billion people in the world; there is room enough and water and food for all.
The problem is global mismanagement at the hands of political entities that abet corporate terrorism. Corporate banking has a demonstrable history of recklessness followed by taxpayer bailout, and it’s these predatory fiscal behemoths that are funding earth-damaging projects like pipelines and hydrofracking. Agribusiness — Monsanto — is allowed to modify seeds and use pesticides deadly to humans on a large scale. Corner-cutting corporations behave as if spilling oil and gas into waterways and spewing toxins into the air are divinely sanctioned activities, as if utilitarian protections of unbridled profit are more important than thriving and healthy human populations.
The problem on a more individual level is conspicuous consumption and a reckless reluctance to be part of a shift to clean energy. Those who can’t afford to install turbines or solar panels can advocate for incentives for both energy suppliers and individuals to make the sensible shift. We all should do that.
And we need to be more observant of real and sudden changes to our planet. Imminent extinction of polar bears is a threat with rippling consequences that threaten an entire ecosystem and ultimately, a planet that is primarily water. But travel to polar locations isn’t necessary to observe ominous changes.
Extreme weather has become the surreal norm: hurricane upon hurricane; extreme drought; wildly fluctuating temperatures. And what about the winds these past two or three years? Naysayers blame it all on Mother Nature and forces of the universe. Those factors are certainly real. But climate scientists who verify the impact of human choices are also correct.
During last year’s campaign, many on the right and on the soft Clintonian left criticized Bernie Sanders for claiming that the biggest threat to national security was climate change. Shouldn’t he have implicated terrorism? As Sanders explained, these problems are interconnected, not isolated or subject to piecemeal solutions. Progressive thinkers connect the dots — toxic water and air, as well as ecosystems damaged by reckless corporatized agricultural practices, devastate geographical regions, thereby compromising the economies and the very lives of the people who inhabit them. These are the causes that invite terrorist desperation.
NASA recently released images of receding rivers and diminished glaciers around the globe. Satellite images show deforested landscapes and barren mountaintops once covered with snow.
On a recent flight, I observed the blanket of clouds below and saw something new — a perfect and endless grid of lines scored into the cloud cover. I can’t state with authority what would cause this anomaly, but I do know of one certainty — the processes of nature favor asymmetries. The geometric precision of grid lines is a human creation.
We need to pay attention.
We need to look up, down, and around.
We need to stop squabbling and fight for our planet.
Renee Gravelle is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org