Monday, July 04, 2011

Fourth of July environmental thoughts


Just because it’s the Fourth of July, and the news media and government are asleep at the moment, I have a couple of environmental thoughts that stray a little from the usual hydrofracking and other local environmental issues.

The Fourth of July reminds me of our two great forefathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both friends and bitter enemies who patched their long-time and friendship and animosity with a dialogue through letters until they both died on the same Fourth of July--1826. Both Jefferson and Adams had wildly different ideas of what the new nation should look like—Adams leaning towards a structure that looked something like the old European model and Jefferson who thought the United States should be something totally new in governance. They were presidents during a time of a great upheaval in human thought on what a community of people should look like.

Adams thought the United States, despite the great war with Britain, needed the powerful guidance of a fatherly government and Jefferson thought we should put our trust in our fellow man and let the inner goodness of mankind prevail. I suppose neither won nor lost that argument.

We still cannot decide on how much power the government should have and how much should be left to the people. Especially on matters involving our environment.

My thoughts are that with our present political climate we are straying far from the idea of what our forefather’s wanted on this Fourth of July 2011. Our budgetary problems have blinded us from taking care of our environment. All kinds of public monies are being drained from protecting our environment because that’s what we do: when the money gets tight the environment is the first to lose funds.

Also, looming is a very contentious political campaign that is going to focus on everything little political squabble—except what to do about Climate Change. The media will not press the GOP on their position on the greatest threat to our existence ever, and the GOP has decided their best move to win power is to ignore it altogether. Given what we know about the state of our environment, this is insane behavior by such an intelligent and resourceful nation.

If Jefferson was right about his profound faith in the public, then we might see the public ‘get it’ on Climate Change and demand that our media press our leaders on adapting and mitigating Climate Change. If Adams was right, someone in power is going to have to take charge, get on the bully-pulpit, and encourage the public to back him or her in recognizing what we are facing.

But, it’s not 1826; it’s 2011. Since 1826 the concentration of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, has gone from 280 parts per million to our present 395 parts per million. It’s getting hot. The planet is a far different place than it used to be when Adams and Jefferson walked upon it. And time is running out to find a kind of government that is able to discern and tackle the environmental problems that threaten our future.

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