The Global Warming Debate (Part 2)

The Challenge Continues (Still no photographs!)

Remember, I asked:

Are we not like beavers…except that we have nowhere to go after we have used up our “pond”?

It is important to be wary of those who “cry wolf,” but it is equally foolish to ignore or dismiss the “wolf” as just a fairy tale to frighten children.

The earth is a single, huge macro-ecosystem that has been pretty thoroughly populated. Resources are disappearing faster than they can be replenished through natural processes.

Let’s look at water as an example. I believe that most of us will agree that a supply of fresh water is important to human habitation.

There is evidence that major sources of ground water, globally, are being depleted faster than they can recover. Groundwater is drawn from aquifers—aquifers are the earth’s cisterns where water has been collected over hundreds or thousands of years. A ten-year study from the University of California-Irvine examined 37 of the world’s largest aquifers between 2003 and 2013. At least eight were classified as “overstressed,” which by their definition meant that the aquifer had no immediate source of replenishment. Much like crude oil, it is being pumped out of the ground with nothing to replace it.

Five more aquifers were described as highly stressed, meaning that water was being withdrawn faster than it could be refilled—not unlike some western United States lakes during California’s historic drought.

One such overstressed aquifer is the Arabian Aquifer that supplies some 60 million people in the Middle East, from Saudia Arabia and Iraq to Yemen. Add the stress of dwindling water supplies to an area of the world already stressed by political, social, and economic upheavals. Whether it is a matter of global warming or just the overuse of natural resources, the result is a threat multiplier, adding another point of ignition to the socio-political powder keg of the Middle East.

Unlike beavers and primitive human societies, most of the human population has no place to go to begin over again. But rather than face a problem that may affect the quality of life for every person on the planet over the next 100 or so years, world leaders are debating whether it is moral issue or a political issue.

It is a “survival of our quality of life” issue. There are both critically important moral and political issues that must be faced—faced with the hard reality of science amidst dysfunctional national and international (global) political cooperation.

I am old enough that it is unlikely that I personally will have to live through the potential crisis, but my generation’s children and grandchildren are going to be hit by some hard, perhaps life-altering environmental and geopolitical upheavals unless our world leaders can actually lead.

The head-in-the-sand approach will not work. The problem will not go away—well, actually it may go away when humans on the earth are essentially pulled back into the climatic stone age.

The fact is some resources are finite but can be recycled: e.g., iron and carbon; some resources are finite and are simply being used up: e.g., coal and oil. There are no infinite resources on our planet—except maybe opinions.

I believe the world’s population can manage its resources, but it will take an informed, collective and cooperative effort of all nations on earth. It is that collective and cooperative action that I fear will not happen and may not even be possible. If it is not possible, the strongest, most aggressive and most controlling societies will rise to the top of the socio-economic pyramid. These are societies that “know what is right” and may not be so benevolent to those who are not members of their immediate society.

I hate to sound callous about this, but look at our world leaders, policy makers, legislators, and influential public officials: most of them are more than fifty years old. They will not have to experience the long-term results of their short-term decisions. It is time for the younger generation to put down the smart phones and game console controllers long enough to use social media for something more than just mindless gossip.

An informed voter is the greatest threat to the political status quo.

The Challenge: Write a short essay on your opinion on the likelihood of international cooperation (or even national cooperation) in truly examining the reality of global warming.

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