Thursday, June 28, 2007

Global Warming... Thursday

I started writing this as a response to comments on yesterday's post, but when I found myself flipping the page (I was proctoring an exam at the time, so it started just below my to-do list), I decided that maybe I should just turn it into a post.

Queen B picked up on the following line from my original post: "And I remain pretty convinced that my children will do more good than harm." I will concede her point that it's pretty much impossible for a human being to have no impact on the environment, but I think I meant this in less than absolute terms. In the grand scheme, I think that my children will be raised with a deep and abiding respect for nature and hope that they will inspire the same in others. I think that they will be raised in a household that makes many attempts beyond the average US household to conserve and pay attention to impact. I also consider "more good than harm" to include more than just a mathematical assessment of environmental impact.

I also think B&P is getting at one of my core assumptions: human existence will (and, to a large extent, should) continue. If I didn't believe that--in a very emotional way, I admit it--I certainly wouldn't have any children and would even question my own reasons for being here.

I also recognize the disparity of individual environmental footprints when comparing different parts of the world. But I stand by the bulk of what I said before, particularly when looking at trends:
  • Western/developed nations are generally in a position to reduce their carbon output. Whether initially a result of government or citizen action, the two often end up building on each other.
  • These nations also are the most likely to discover and develop technologies that will further alleviate humanity's burden on the planet.
  • If we can adjust current market economies along the sort of model suggested by No Impact Man (in the post I linked to yesterday), it may be possible to get such technologies established in developing nations before they succumb or move more fully to the usual environmental destruction that accompanies industrialization in the current model. Want an example? Run a search on the increase in pollution in China.
  • From an economic and political model, most developed nations cannot afford a significantly greater decrease in population than they are already projected to have (based on fertility rates) without some sort of collapse--and I have to think that a country in such trouble would probably be much harder on the environment.
  • My desire to see smart development brought to developing nations also goes beyond purely environmental concerns. I would like to see environmentally sensitive development that allows such areas to improve inhabitants' lives in all respects. Smart development like this would help avoid increased pollution while improving health. And, generally speaking, women in such situations have more control over their fertility.
  • I do recognize that the problem of an aging population outnumbering the young remains. It will end up being an issue at some point, and I don't entirely know how we will get over that. (Which makes me want to refer back to HBM's original proposal--in a totally tongue-in-cheek manner. But still...)
Even in writing the above, I recognize just how optimistic it sounds. And then I wonder what exactly is going on in my brain, because that's just not like me. I mean, let's face it, governments and most individuals aren't generally known for making the changes and sacrifices the world needs.

And yet...

I think that I need to believe the change can happen. Because otherwise I might as well give up.

I know that I believe that little changes made by a multitude can add up.

I have accepted that a certain amount of climate change is now inevitable. In my generation and my children's, probably my grandchildren's, we will experience profound changes. The causes of this have already been put into motion. It will get worse before it gets better.

But if we make changes now, if we can get things headed in the right direction, it will get better. And maybe then humans will better understand the concept of finding harmony with the world around them.

I know it's a pipe dream and that, even if the right changes occur, they will be slower and smaller than needed to turn things around in just a few generations. But I do believe it's possible.

1 comment:

Aliki2006 said...

I didn't get a chance yet to respond to the post/comments below...I'm an optimist, too. My sister and her husband don't want kids--I suspect for many of the reasons you cite your friends as having as well. But I believe in the power of change as well--even though the climate issue seems dire and frightening, I believe that there is room for change, and I'm not certain that voluntary population control of any kind is necessarily the answer to the climate issue, although it well may be to other issues.