Why You Should be Concerned and What you Can do.Wanda Marie Woodward
A cogent summary of the mess we are in and two dozen simple things each of us can do to help prevent global warming.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio recently posted a question to Yahoo!'s question site: What are some simple steps or creative ideas that people can take at home and work to combat global warming? He got 10,000 answers. Here is a good one, a veritable prescription for the 5th World:
The world has ridded itself 5 times in history of virtually all species. They were approximately 450, 400, 250, 200 and 65 million years ago, respectively. The substantial bulk of the scientists today who study the biosphere are in agreement that the planet is headed toward the 6th extinction if humankind does not rapidly begin implementation of effective strategies to derail extinction. According to many biologists, 50% of all life species will be extinct within 100 years if humankind fails to respond quickly. Scientists also state that the rate at which extinction is occurring is between 100 and 1,000 times faster than those in history.
The 6 greatest threats to life on this planet are (not in order): 1. deforestation (from corporations developing land), 2. population explosion, 3. pollution, 4. invasive species, 5. overharvesting, and 6. global warming. Deforestation is the greatest contributor, by far, to global warming, followed by carbon dioxide emissions that come primarily, but not exclusively, from automobile use of fossil fuels. According to Harvard professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, and eminent scientist, biologist, researcher and naturalist, E.O. Wilson, believes that the "current ongoing worldwide biotic holocaust exterminating species at the rate of 1 every 20 minutes" may have been effectively tackled had people taken his 1992 book, The Diversity of Life, seriously. In 2000, he stated "people might be working on solutions now instead of wallowing in ignorance. The facts are clearly and well laid out. The evidence is presented, the theories and data explained at length....Eight years later, people are still presenting in public flawed paradigms (perhaps deliberately) to excuse their gluttonous behavior which is crusing the planetory life-support systems." (see Wikipedia under "E.O.Wilson")
According to Union of Concerned Scientist's website, the world is adding 90 million people to the population each year which is equivalent to adding the entire population of Mexico each year. America has 5% of the world's population, yet uses 25% of the world's oil. American spends $100,000 per minute on foreign oil. One gallon of gas produces 20 lbs of carbon emissions. Cars, by far, are the worst culprit for the production of carbon emissions. Currently, America only recycles 35% of paper and cardboard. Almost all credible scientific sources now predict that water (and clean water to be more specific) will be in short supply within the next 50-75 years.
Clearly, if corporations do not seriously curb deforestation, all the work that citizens do will not halt, rather only impede, global warming. That said, what can Americans do?
First, we can make conscious decisions to begin controlling the growth of population by the use of birth control for adolescents and by adults being more conservative in their family planning. The agrarian days of having 6, 8 and 10 children to sustain the farm are long over. From a purely pragmatic standpoint (disregarding religious considerations for the moment), large families are causing a strain on the ecosystem because more people equates to more consumption and more pollution. This must, however, be a voluntary, conscious choice of the personal will, not a political or legal mandate imposed involuntarily.
Second, Americans must awaken to a higher level of consciousness regarding consumption. We are assaulted with 3,000 advertising messages per day (Union of Concerned Scientist's web site) and are perceived by virtually all countries on this globe to be the most consumption driven citizenry alive. This is true because America is the world's largest economy and the highest standards of living yet we have only 5% of the world's population and are responsible for 25% of carbon emissions on this planet. Americans MUST become educated and informed and then we MUST become less ego-centric and more eco-centric.
Third, all of our political, business, economic, legal, scientific, academic, and social decision making must incorporate an ethos that places the eco-system as its top priority. This is a time for unprecedented inter-disciplinary, inter-faith collaboration so as to generate the Goodwill that will be necessary as the undertow of what has been an invisible and unclaimed interdependence is translated into the Collective Psyche of humankind. The days of competition--which is a masculine trait that has driven business, economics, politics, academia and science for decades---is now anachronistic, nay, it is malignant for the planet. The feminine consciousness of care, compassion, dependence, collaboration and the concern for the Good of the All must come to the fore and guide every decision, small and large, if we are to avoid our own complete peril and annhilation from greed, competition, hate, violence and war.
Small things that we can all do are:
1. write and/or call your Congresspersons and demand that legislation be implemented to avert this coming planetary crisis, 2. invest in companies that are "green",
3. commit to curbing consumption of products, i.e., what you don't really need, don't buy it!
4. be conscious of paper usage from writing paper, toilet paper to napkins, and limit them (write on both sides of the page and not just one before throwing the paper away) and also recycle them (currently 35% of paper and cardboard are recycled, so we can do better),
5. recycle cans and bottles and plastics (plastics are made from oil derivatives, so can you imagine how much we would be helping the environment if we just stopped using so much plastic or if we, at minimum, starting recycling?),
6. purchase autos with less horsepower (the more horsepower, the more gasoline is guzzled and who really needs a Hummer except for vanity purposes?),
7. limit PVC plastic because it is a health hazard,
8. limit use of pesticides because some, like methyl bromide, are ozone-depleting,
9. buy organic products because they use farming methods that are earth friendly and they limit the use of pesticides and other chemicals that end up in the food product itself,
10. buy new refrigerators because refrigerators use 3 times as much energy as tvs, computers or lights; a 1973 refrigerator is 3 times less efficient as a refrigerator made today,
11. use fluorescent lighting instead of halogen,
12. change your shower head to the 2.5 gallon/per minute instead of the older ones that use twice as much water,
13. of course, use energy efficient lights bulbs and, yes, turn OFF the lights when you are not in the room!,
14. outside A/C units should be covered because they won't have to produce as much,
15. walk to work if you can,
16. for errands and shopping, map out travel efficient routes instead of backtracking alot,
17. since dry cleaning produces high levels of toxic air pollution, limit use of dry clean materials,
18. buy light colored roofs because they reflect sun and lower electric costs,
19. buy toilets that now use much less water than the older ones,
20. beef production causes substantially more water pollution than does chicken production, so consider eating less beef,
21. when grocery shopping for small amounts, do as the Europeans do and bring your own cloth bag instead of using the paper/plastic bag from the store
22. when washing clothes, make sure you have a full load of laundry so you don't waste water
23. instead of buying all those individual plastic bottles of water, consider purchasing a large water dispenser & placing that in the referigerator for the family use
24. holidays are a time of giving of your HEART and, instead, Americans have turned holidays into a time of giving THINGS---consider spending less on THINGS and, instead, donating your time or money to a charity. An old friend of mine stopped giving Christmas gifts years ago and, instead, he donates money to a charitable organization in the name of a family member or friend. It seems we live increasingly in a world with a growing recognition that our souls are experiencing poverty that only love and compassion can fill, not worldly goods. We must come to a conscious awareness that we are all dependent upon each other. Let us strive to become educated and informed and then to put our knowledge to good use in developing strategies that we ultimately turn into action. This crisis we are facing will not magically disappear from lack of education nor will it dissipate from inaction. May we all awaken.
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