Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Warming Debate

I've avoided addressing this topic for a few days now but suppose it is time to at least acknowledge it. On the left, we have a lot of folks highly concerned about the human impact on our planet and desperate to prove that there is in fact a problem here - be it visible in climate change, species depletion, melting polar ice caps etc. On the right, we have a camp eager to point out the vast number of improvements made by the human species, the progress we've made in carbon emission regulation in the past few decades, the unsustainable habits of very wealthy Al Gore, etc. I say: thank heaven for both sides because they are passionate and keep the debate alive, progressive, current and fair.

This past weekend I had breakfast with my father - a scientist who is a registered republican (rare, I know) - and as much a I resisted, it seems he brought my chair from the far left of this debate to somewhere around the middle. He pointed out the historical flattening of populations, the crisp white snow on the ground that would look a lot more like a scene set in a Dicken's novel had America not progressed leaps and bounds in the cleanliness of our automobiles, the unmatched medical and scientific innovation of folks who aren't busy farming all day and of course the factory farmed eggs in my omelette.

I argued that climate change isn't linear and that coastal cities are doomed, that so much of our scientific innovation is treating western diseases brought about by a food system that needs an overhaul not a band aid, and that species are dissappearing from land and seas as fast as forests are being torn down for McNeighborhoods. For once though, I listened more than I talked and I learned more than I preached. And I learned that there are a few things we can all agree on and perhaps my energy is best focused there.

No one on either side wants to see species endangered and dissappearing. No one wants weather patterns disrupting entire cities and farm lands. What the hot-headed debaters fail to acknowledge is that we are all in this together and interested in the smartest, cheapest, most effective solutions and those ideas come from both ends of the political spectrum.

So although I truly believe that the human species has done plenty of harm to nature, I don't necessarily believe that nature is as passive and weak as I did before. Perhaps the changing climate is nature's way of fighting back and what we deem as detrimental may be part of a naturally developing solution. Of course that solution may be to wipe out the human species with droughts, extreme temperatures, hurricanes and floods but it may not. Maybe these are warnings, not warmings, and we're evolving side by side with the climate, coming up with greener solutions and even fudging some data to convince everyone that this is serious and we can't ignore it.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still going to preach the enviro-benefits of being a vegetarian, scold folks for drinking bottled water, emphasize the importance of recycling and respecting our mother earth, chain myself to trees and all that important stuff - but just saying... maybe I'll cool it a little with the global warming comments and let nature speak and fight for itself.

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