Thursday, January 28, 2010

We're Melting!

I thought briefly about writing something about the State of the Union. After all, I actually watched it (something I don’t always do, since I then read about it for DAYS and get all the main points), and I live in DC, where you can even attend SotU parties and participate in drinking games (neither of which I did).

But then I read in the Post this morning that a scant majority of Americans believe in global warming. Apparently, the “it still gets cold, and hey, look at the snow” argument has convinced a sizable number of people that it’s all a conspiracy. Seriously? SERIOUSLY??? Please explain this to me. Scientists, people who are paid to study these types of things, point out that things are warmer. They can explain why there is more snow in some areas, and why others are colder. They can point out rising sea levels. And yet Joe Schmo thinks, “Florida froze this year, it must all be wrong”?

And usually I wouldn’t care. Well, I’d care enough to rant about it, and then move on. But this scares me. Because I firmly believe that if we don’t do something soon, it could be too late. And I know that the massive changes probably won’t happen until I’m dead, but that they will happen in the next generation’s lifetimes. And that’s not acceptable.

I do recognize the difficulty in ecological changes. The mountaintop mining in West Virginia is a perfect example. Blowing up the tops of mountains to get at coal seems like an obvious “this has to be bad for the environment” example. Yet there are lots of people protesting the EPA’s rulings not allowing all of these mines, and while I agree that the mines should be stopped, it’s easy to understand why people are against that, since many of these people’s livelihoods depend on that mining. It’s hard to be gung-ho about saving the environment when it means that you’re not sure if you’ll be able to pay your mortgage or feed your family.

That said, it would be shortsighted to be so afraid of negative economic impact that we don’t do anything. (Which, actually, brings me back to the State of the Union.) Jobs are important, and I feel for these people. I would love to see some training programs, not necessarily funded by the government but by corporations (Ford, I think, was doing training programs to help workers they laid off), to help these people find other work. But it seems crazy to stay, “it’s better to destroy the planet, affecting billions, than to make laws and regulations that might affect the economy.