Friday, July 29, 2016

Anybody for the Environment?

I AM usually silent in regards what most of my enlightened friends and colleagues are fighting for. Maybe they've already unfriended me and boxed me in a crate they reserve for “rightwinged moomoos.” That's the way life is these days, I guess. You disagree with the enlightened you are a Conservative. You diss the Conservative you are stoned-cold homeless. Either way, you are unfriended. LOL! For the first time in my life though after four decades of being labelled a hardcore Leftist, I am called rightwing skynyrd! Ah! Freebird. Seriously though, I don't expect to be labelled left or right when I talk about the environment. I hope.

          Has anybody taken to heart and soul the danger of sea-level rise after Katrina and Sandy, more than we spend huge energy debating and discoursing stuff? Stuff like The D and The H over the B? When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, it flooded more than 88,000 buildings in the city and killed 44 people. That figure may not shake the skeptic, I'm sure? Yet that was a transformative event. By 2030 or so, the water in New York Harbor could be a foot higher than it is today, according to mostly Dutch experts that the city government hired following the disaster. That may not sound like much, yet even with a foot or two of sea-level rise, streets will become impassable at high tide, snarling traffic. The cost of flood insurance will skyrocket, causing home prices in risky neighborhoods to decline. So says a Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell.
          But that is not the real fear. There will always be a big storm coming. A year from now, 7 years, maybe 20 years. It might be smaller than Sandy, it might be a lot stronger that the strongest that hit the Philippines or China. Of course, governments are working things out. But if you add a foot or two of sea-level rise to a 14-foot storm tide, you have serious trouble. And if it hits before we actually constructed or implemented mechanisms to lessen damage of such a calamity, then we got serious problem.

          Sea-level rise is no joke. And news from the Arctic is not good. Of course we know that the big guys have been melting ice there for more oil diggings so we can gas up more and watch “Game of Thrones” more. This summer, temperatures in Greenland spiked to the highest levels on record. If just one-tenth of the Greenland ice were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by two feet. The breakup of West Antarctica, which has showed signs of increasing fragility, could raise the seas 12 feet.
           Hugely contributing to environmental ruin of course is the greenhouse effect, a process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.
          Approximately two-thirds of all industrial methane and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since 1854 can be traced to burning fossil fuels and producing cement. Over the decades, scientists have succeeded in confidently tracing how much of climate change can be directly tied to human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels. Sadly, the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are now higher than at any point in human history, further worsening the ‘greenhouse effect’ contributing to global warming and the consequences of climate change. In fact, recent data shows that global carbon dioxide emissions were 150 times higher in 2011 than they were in 1850.

          The main contributors to global warming via our lifestyle? Or carbon footprint, the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Top 4: China, the US, India and Russia. Cement? Top 3: China, India, the US. Steel: China, Japan, India, the US.
          Do we think that we are doing enough for the environment? No. Instead of fighting for bike lanes and bus transport, we fight for (I don't wanna say it). We listen to political humor more than we listen to, for example, the Dutch who know how to prevent floods (well their country is under water protected by dams, dikes and levees) and they are also number 1 in use of bikes not for recreation but for basic transport. How many of us will boycott Walmart but are you willing to boycott your gas station? No. You get my drift. We love that car. Anyway, it's past 2 AM now. I gotta digress. And sleep. Uh huh.

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