But if you’re NOT convinced by mounting evidence that we’re responsible for heating things up on Earth, then read on. And I thank you for visiting a treehugging artist’s website.
Let’s say climate change is NOT happening or, if it is, it’s NOT caused by us humans and our massive output of industrial carbon emissions. So, what happens if we make a huge societal effort to reduce pollutants, especially airborne ones, develop alternative fuels and so on? This would require big effort for big behavioral changes, plus the re-direction of capital away from fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources. Some argue this would cause more job losses and economic instability. Others believe, as I do, the opposite is true: more jobs can be created in a societal shift from toxic, non-renewable energy production to cleaner, renewable energy sources. The scenarios quickly become so complex as to be unpredictable, and thus easy to argue in either direction.
I ask you to consider the possibility that we the people are causing what the majority of the world’s scientists consider the most severe climatic changes in recorded history. And that this is not just a cyclical warming, but one brought on more rapidly because of human activity, especially in the last 100 years, post industrial revolution. And, finally, that if we don’t change now, things will get worse, reach a tipping point and become irreversible.
So I ask simply this: aren’t the stakes just too high to take the chance we’re not responsible for global warming? What happens if we stay the course; keep polluting as usual, gambling that our ecosystem can absorb increasing amount of pollutants like hydrocarbons into our air, land, and water (think the industrialization of China, or recent massive oil spills), factor in industrial accidents polluting all three elements at once (e.g. the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan), what happens…if we’re wrong? We have everything to lose if we are responsible for climate change and fail to change.
Conversely, what do we lose by making big societal changes to clean up our energy production and consumption? If you agree that all outcomes are so complicated as to ultimately become guesswork, isn’t it possible our economies could actually thrive from a massive investment in an energy evolution? Couldn’t creating new jobs in industries with cleaner technologies—to replace dirty, old ones (like coal and oil) might accomplish both goals at once— turn the tide of climate change and create an economic revival?
And since this is a tree lover’s website, what’s all this got to do with trees? An article by Justin Gillis in the The New York Times is filled with information about the amazing things trees and forests do for the ecosystem—and therefore for us. It’s more than you might imagine, unless you take the time to do so… Here’s one short excerpt and then I encourage you to read the full article:
…while a majority of the world’s people now live in cities, they depend more than ever on forests, in a way that few of them understand. Scientists have figured out — with the precise numbers deduced only recently — that forests have been absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people are putting into the air by burning fossil fuels and other activities. It is an amount so large that trees are effectively absorbing the emissions from all the world’s cars and trucks.
In the final analysis, I choose to be optimistic about our potential to make positive changes, to adapt and flourish, rather than only focus on what we imperfect humans are doing wrong.