It’s time to stop delaying our response to climate change

The 52nd Earth Day is approaching on April 22, and now might be a good time to ask yourself what this means to you.

Maybe a lot. Maybe nothing. Bring those baseball scores!

I remember the first Earth Day in the spring of 1970. It seemed like a great day for soapbox talk and Frisbee throwing on campuses across America. The hippies were in their element.

But beneath the seemingly radicalized frivolity, there was a dark fact and an unconditional truth: our planet was being destroyed by our industrial quest for a “better life.”

Two powerful catalysts for the first Earth Day were Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring,” about the devastation caused by pesticides, and Cleveland’s famous Cuyahoga River which caught fire (some as high as five stories high) in previous June.

Even industrialists have a hard time ignoring burning rivers.

But ignoring the things that don’t affect us personally, that aren’t in our faces, so to speak – well, we’re experts at throwing those cans on the sidewalk. Our evolutionary makeup is such that we react to saber-toothed tigers that might pounce but ignore ice ages that will wipe us out entirely.

So it is that more than half a century after the first Earth Day, with the event now established on a global scale, we humans have still done next to nothing to change the way we live. , our way of exploiting, our way of demanding.

It’s not really a blame game because we’re all in this together, but there’s a lot of guilt to hang on to world leaders. Former President Donald J. Trump, for example, called climate change a “hoax,” adding that he was against banning ozone-depleting sprays because “I want to use hairspray for hair. hair “.

Former Vice President Al Gore was right when he named his 2006 documentary about the Global Warning “An Inconvenient Truth.” Changing the way we send carbon into the air and chemical waste into the ground and waters is troublesome.

Humanity’s progress can roughly be defined by the way we burned fossil fuels, rapidly returning millions of years of stored carbon to the atmosphere. Additionally, we have manufactured things such as PCBs and plastics.

But there are issues. “The living world,” says renowned naturalist David Attenborough, “is essentially powered by solar energy.”

We have sunlight, friends. We have wind. We have wave action.

As Attenborough adds in his book ‘A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for Our Future’: ‘We human beings are first and foremost the most amazing problem solvers.’

But we have to go. Now. Right now. Most climatologists say that we don’t even have 10 years to stop permanent and irreversible climate damage.

The globe is getting warmer year after year. Tipping points are everywhere. A few of the most important are the massive melting of the ice caps and the possible collapse of the Atlantic Ocean circulation. A frozen Europe and underwater Miami might finally catch our attention.

But it’s all so embarrassing. Good things are often hard to achieve, it’s true. But not impossible.

Want some urgency, the carrot for total effort? Try this: According to a just released UN climate report, we are “firmly on track towards an unlivable world”.

Unlivable means, like, you can’t live here anymore. Or are you planning to go to Mars with Elon Musk?

As an old boy, I probably won’t be around to see the potential environmental disaster, but it’s not a gift I want to pass on to my children or their children. Or anyone’s offspring.

Yet global methane emissions hit an all-time high for the second straight year in 2021. Our leaders and giants aren’t squatting, they’re just paddling and making empty promises.

I remember a late summer day at Wrigley Field maybe 30 years ago. A beautiful sunny day with blue skies. The air suddenly filled with monarch butterflies, which I love. Who doesn’t love monarchs?

I don’t know how many people at that Cubs game noticed the butterflies during a brief stopover on their incredible migratory journey to Mexico. But I saw them. And that made me happy. It felt good to see the natural world in order, to know it was working well while I and others were entertained by a sporting event.

But, of course, monarchs are under threat now, as are so many living beings. Like us.

I would like to think that those sunny days can come back. Domed stadiums may be great for sports, but living in a domed world, separated from nature, with the exterior flooded or on fire? No thanks.

Let’s roll, people.

Teresa H. Sadler