Climate change reemerged last week as a subject to be discussed in earnest. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 turned out to be the hottest year ever. 2013 isn’t looking much better as Australia went up in a blaze of fire, Brazil sweltered, and we in North America are freezing to death in the middle of a drought. It’s no wonder I registered disappointment on the faces of people hoping the Mayans were right. The choices facing us are far too difficult and the end of the calendar was the easy way out.
The Mayans still living in Central America swore that the end of the calendar meant 5,000 years of idiocy was coming to an end, ushering in 5,000 years of enlightenment. Last time I checked we were still watching “Honey Boo Boo” and John Boehner was reelected as speaker of the house, so there is no evidence of any enlightenment. I suppose I can’t expect a quick turnaround when we’ve been honing our idiot skills for so many thousands of years.
I’ve heard all the arguments that climate change is a natural occurrence. I happen to agree that there is plenty of evidence that the world warms and cools in a cyclical manner. The cooling follows the heating and usually involves a huge powder day that would bring a tear to many an Aspen local’s eye. Unfortunately, once the snow gets 3,000 feet deep, the lifts aren’t much help. Because of the finality of the ice age I would definitely be resistant to helping speed its next appearance along.
If there were a chance that human activity is adding to the inevitable date with thousands of feet of ice, why wouldn’t we want to slow this process down by changing whatever it is we’re doing? When I go to Denver and look down on that brown cloud blowing around the city, I am amazed at how dirty humans are. We live like pigs in our own slop and resist any attempts to clean up our act. I would think that improving our air quality and slowing global climate change would be equally beneficial.
Our inability to adjust our lifestyle even a little is creeping into our local environment. The Thompson Divide gas drilling proposal takes a beautiful section of our valley and turns it into an industrial zone. The local water supply is in danger of going up in flames because of fracking. I hate it when creeks burn, don’t you?
There is no need to drill Thompson Divide. The Wall Street Journal reports this week that natural gas supplies are abundant and prices are at a three-month low. Either the oil companies are trying to cement their ability to thumb their nose at local sentiment, or they’re just plain stupid. There is no profit to be made by drilling this area and any gas extracted is likely to be exported.
There is plenty of local opposition to this plan, but protesting each plan as it comes along is fruitless. In the new age of enlightenment people have to go after the regulators that allow such environmental devastation. We have to protest the elected representatives who take oil company money and pass laws to protect their interests and poison the rest of us. Big-picture thinking is the new paradigm.
The city of Longmont is confronting the oil and gas industry by passing rules banning fracking within its city limits and now the industry is returning the favor. Lawsuits have been filed and the state of Colorado is supporting the petroleum industry and not its own city. This is a test case that will make or break whether locals have control of their future. Longmont needs the support of every citizen that cares for his or her own community. This isn’t about Longmont; it’s about all of us.
After all the negative consequences that have transpired because of our addiction to carbon-based fuels, it is evident that oil will be the death of our civilization. This isn’t happening because oil and gas are the only solution to our energy needs, it’s because it is the only choice the powerful oil industry wants us to have. We can and must wean our society from our dependence on burning carbon. We might not be able to move on from it soon, but every journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
When I go to Denver and think about how dirty we are, I then drive on into town and add my tailpipe to the mix. This is not enlightened; it is hypocritical. We not only must fight the larger war, we must fight our inclination to think small and selfishly.
Enlightenment begins within each of us.
Email Johnny at firstname.lastname@example.org.