Archive for April, 2017


Now More Than Ever

April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017 comes early in the current administration’s assault on the environment. Now more than ever we need to be increasingly diligent in the protection of our vulnerable planet for it is abundantly clear that preserving it has taken a back seat to the unfettered and irresponsible expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

The Trump cabinet has been called “a nightmare for the planet, and the fossil fuel industry’s dream come true” (Michael Brune, director of the Sierra Club). It is filled with those who have a history of denying climate change  (including the President himself), most of whom are directly from the petroleum industry.

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (which he built a career suing on behalf of the oil industry), is busy filling it with other climate change deniers in an attempt to roll back environmental regulations which they narrowly view only as harmful to business. The fact that these penny-wise and pound-foolish actions will be detrimental to the health and welfare of the Earth and its inhabitants seems to be besides the point.

Natural resources such as oil, gas, and coal are finite entities. However, they have become nothing more than a valuable commodity to be manipulated for the benefit of national power, corporate stockholders, or personal convenience by those in the business of resource profiteering. Modern man has exploited the gifts of this Earth without regard for their potential depletion or the destruction that is the byproduct of their acquisition. We have disregarded the interconnected nature of all things that make up the ecology of this world, and in doing so, have created an imbalance that is spiraling out of control.

History shows that we constantly overestimate our ability to safely extract the materials that we want and dispose of their waste. The result has been the pollution and destruction of our only environment. How many oil spills, deforestations, slag heaps, chemical contaminations, oceanic plastic “swamps,” animal extinctions, fouled wells, toxic dumps, poisoned water sources, and smog-choked cities do we need to understand this?

Half of the equation is the need to decrease our copious consumption. We have become energy gluttons who value convenience over conservation. How about downsizing the gas-guzzling vehicles we seem to covet? How about using more mass transit or even walking or biking? How about foregoing the wasteful McMansions and living in reasonably sized houses with moderately controlled temperatures? How about greater support for developing and making use of the technologies that would allow us to produce energy without destroying our planet in the process?

The idea of stimulating much-desired job creation by focusing on the fossil fuel industry is constantly being heralded. However, it is actually in the area of renewable energy industries that more jobs can be provided without adversely affecting the environment. According to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, $1 million dollars worth of oil and natural gas output directly creates 0.8 jobs and $1 million dollars of coal produces 1.9 jobs. However, wind power creates 4.3 jobs per million, solar power 5.4, building retrofits for energy efficiency 7.0, biomass power generation 7.4, and mass transit services 11.0.

We need to return to our instinctive reverence for the natural world and a realization of its delicate balance. It seems that “civilization” has made us arrogant, for the view that the land and all that is upon or under it is merely there for our exploitation is now prevalent. This is a shame that can become a tragedy, for humans have ignored this stark reality: if we do not take care of this planet, we will destroy it, and us along with it. This is not crazy talk. It is not the doomsday rambling of some overzealous tree hugger. It is science. It is common sense. And, in the long run, it is a matter of survival.

So today, April 22, the day which has been designated as Earth Day, the citizens of this nation are once again reminded to reconsider the shortsighted intrusions being made upon this delicate sphere. We do not have unlimited time to solve the problem even if the skeptics and deniers change their views. The very things that make life on Earth possible are being endangered, and the damage that is being done now to our land, atmosphere, and waters cannot be reversed. And unlike the dinosaurs, we will have no one to blame for our extinction but ourselves.