Global Warming, Part Three

1 May

From .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

Thus it may be deduced that global warming caused by population increase is a natural process, and not an artificially induced phenomenon. Global warming may actually be an integral and necessary part of the “New Earth.”

Such acceptance is an advanced form of wisdom. We would not have the world we have today without the great increase in population and global warming. The population increases, and the warming of the planet, are keys to our current existence.

Before 1927, when both these natural phenomena began, there was really no way to confirm our existence on a planetary scale. All our existence was fragmented and for the most part local. The current tribalism evident in Afghanistan and other societies underscores the local nature of earlier existence. Communications were difficult and travel from one place to another was to take your life in your hands. It was probably somewhat colder in places like Sweden and the Arctic than it is now. Being warmer can be a good thing, therefore.

Even more so, without the population increase, there would not likely be a sufficient “customer base” for the launching of new technologies such as fast cars on fast highways, oil, gas and water pipeline systems, and the Internet and cell phones and crowd-sourced computer applications; not to mention ground-based rapid transit systems and the fastest travel by airplane. We would likely never have put a man on the moon; South Africa would still be a primitive apartheid-based society.

And without population increase and global warming, both of which are natural processes, our scientists and innovators would not be motivated to develop more efficient methods of energy production and use, and better ways of marshaling the resources of our planet. We would not even be having this discussion if the population were still two billion. Furthermore, it’s not likely this discussion would be propagating globally via the Internet if the population were still two billion souls.

Another major issue which is brought to the forefront by population and global warming is the subject of corporate responsibility for emissions and pollutants. Corporate responsibility was not even a term in use back in 1927 when the population was only two billion. The dumping of the detritus of production at the factory gate was the norm back then.

I remember when I was a child, in about 1955. There was a creek that ran through an area of woods where I played, in the small town of Lexington, North Carolina. I was amazed by the rainbow of colors in this creek. One day it would be bright red, the next day bright green, and another day it would be bright yellow, and so on. Fortunately, I was just concerned enough to stay out of the water. There was a fabric dyeing plant nearby, and they were dumping their untreated dye residues directly into the stream.

Most corporations inside the United States are doing considerably better at handling their wastes and runoffs than they were back in 1955. They are showing at least some degree of corporate responsibility, and it is appreciated. So in this essay I’m not going to hammer too much on corporations. I’m going to look at the flip side of the problem: the politically correct and seemingly magically effective solutions offered up by the environmental establishment: the green advocates.

If only we could get our government to agree on forcing companies to meet carbon reduction targets, and to buy and sell carbon credits. If only we could spend multi billions of government and private dollars on wind and solar power. If only, if only. The list of impractical and expensive solutions goes on, and no one seems to be questioning the long term effectiveness of these more or less academic ideas; and no one is really questioning whether we even need to do these things.

No one is asking whether any of these environmental “solutions” will “cure” the “disease” which may actually be a natural process, which we can live with if the genius of our scientific and political leaders is applied to direct solutions such as increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines and reducing the weight of vehicles and other equipment used for freight and personal transportation.

After we accept the reality of a changing earth and an increasing population, what we need is to find ways to imagine actual scenarios in the future and begin to invent processes and things right now to cope with these grounded visualizations of the next thirty to fifty years of the earth.

The “New Earth” we live on demands us to care deeply about how we spend our money, and how we adjust to the changed living conditions which did not exist even 85 years ago.

What about those who believe in their hearts that global warming and environmental pollution is the greatest disaster the world has faced, and the world must act decisively to combat these threats to our planet?

Marinette Forbes-Magno has a master’s degree from the Asian Institute of Technology, and has researched energy issues in Thailand as a professional. She’s a member of my family and is visiting in my home as I write this. She says that global warming brought about by massive population increases will inevitably lead to major environmental disasters. These natural disasters will wipe out the excess population and only after this happens will we return to a more normal way of living. This is not necessarily the way it will happen, she says, yet it’s one way to look at it.

She’s worried, that’s for sure. Yet she’s not a doomsday prophet, she’s simply a well-informed concerned citizen. The label of doomsday prophet belongs to the loud and robust environmental activists and politicians –think Al Gore – who are constantly bombarding us with messages that we have to do what they tell us to do; and spend billions to implement schemes of dubious or unproven effectiveness to “reverse global warming” (Bill Clinton’s words).

The label of doomsday prophet also belongs to the lurid and showy television pundits, and the networks with 24-hour news cycles which must be filled with words and pictures – think CNN. They get better ratings if they really scare people with the rash predictions made by interviewees with personal agendas, and the endless loop reporting on every storm and earthquake on the face of the earth.

My daughter Michelle Kathryn McGee, is concerned that what I’ve been saying about the environment in my series of blogs is a convoluted justification for constant striving rather than constant being — which means being willing to face contradiction fearlessly at every turn. She is personally concerned about the degradation in the quality of life brought about by global warming, yet global warming per se is not the problem. There is, she says, a bigger need for a raising of human consciousness, and she wants each person to take on BEING the solution to a different, more important set of problems. It’s not our planet that is the problem, it’s the level of consciousness and awareness each of us brings to our everyday living that is the problem.

The environmental activists are pushing a hundred doomsday scenarios; rivaling the preachers of the “end times” rapture, where only the saved will be taken into heaven. These dramatic doomsday scenarios are endlessly looped to the public and to the politicians, until everyone believes in them regardless of the evidence to support them. Believing in such disasters is much easier than if someone says we must examine our own personal levels of consciousness to find our way home, and take personal responsibility for our part in what happens next.

Pushing “easy solutions” – which claim to have the remarkable ability to totally head off the natural and artificial disasters threatening our planet – seems to be the most popular way of addressing the claims of environmental degradation. That these easy solutions, such as solar and wind electrical power, carbon offset credits, and battery powered cars, are incredibly expensive, and are so far unproven as primary methods of carbon emission reduction, doesn’t stop us from embracing them as tightly as is they were our first-born child.

The popular culture seems utterly captivated by movies and other media, where the whole earth is threatened by monstrous outside forces, and one person – think Ironman – comes along and saves the whole planet from destruction. (Interestingly enough, this typical movie plot is a direct rehashing of the Biblical New Testament, where one man saves all humanity from the malevolent forces of evil.)

There are even people out there who are persuading us to spend huge amounts of tax dollars to set up a system to predict when a rogue asteroid or meteor might crash into the earth, so we can take defensive measures. This could happen at any time, they say, or at least within the next thirty thousand to a million years from now. Budgets are already being prepared for submission to governments.

Our collective disaster-consciousness is a big step away from reality, and from the true measure of human consciousness, which is: who are we BEING right now, in this moment? How can we be a part of generating peace and awareness within ourselves? How can each person, from elected official to corporate officer to hamburger-flipper, take responsibility for our own part in the ongoing “drama” of daily life? How can our systems be re-calibrated to move our thinking away from disaster and into the fullness of a well-lived life?

For example, what is the primary obstacle to our doing our daily driving around town and to and from work in golf-cart sized battery-powered vehicles made of light plastic parts? It is this: If I tried to drive out into the traffic on the local road right out in front of my home in a “golf cart” type vehicle, I’d be terrorized and traumatized by all the big-engine roaring steel cars going as fast as they can, almost bumper to bumper. I probably wouldn’t make it a hundred feet before I gave it up and parked the little plastic buggy and walked back home to get my full-sized car, to protect my life and sanity. If I continued driving along in spite of my fear, I’d probably be arrested by the police for blocking traffic and being on a public road in a nuisance vehicle.

Far more than half of the driving in the United States is for distances of thirty-five miles or less round trip. These trips could easily be made in golf-cart sized vehicles, if such vehicles were allowed and provisions were made for their safety, and they were cheap enough. Most people would still want another full-sized car, for longer trips and on bad-weather days. Why is there no public dialogue about smaller light-weight vehicles?

First, in our country the road still offers more freedom than frustration. Three-quarters of Americans say driving often gives them a sense of independence, and nearly half say it’s often relaxing. Four in ten love their cars — not just like them, but love them. (This is from an ABC News Analysis by Gary Langer, February 13, 2005.) I’m definitely one of those freedom-lovers. I’m also one of those four in ten who love my own big heavy car.

I’ve already made the internal shift to driving a small car with a small fuel-efficient engine. It would take a further cosmic change within me before I’d emotionally adapt to driving around town in a golf-cart car. Can I adapt? Yes. I. Can. Will I adapt? Only if the whole system of traffic is re-calibrated to make me feel safe and wanted in my light-weight golf-cart sized car.

And yet I don’t see or hear any politicians or environmental activists howling for a new traffic system that will accommodate light-weight individual vehicles. Any such vocal activists would probably be opposed by the auto industry and the highway construction industry. Maybe we could make it more palatable by promoting light-weight car lanes as a new infrastructure project which will help create jobs to get us out of the recession. You think?

This is part three in a four-part series.

2 Responses to “Global Warming, Part Three”

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