Follow by Email

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Winter's Reflections

The photo above is from last year. You're looking at approximately three feet of snow, compared to roughly four inches for this season. From January 1 until now, we've had temperatures above freezing. Not that I'm complaining . . . I don't own a snowmobile or a pair of skis.

It's nice to have a break from shoveling, plowing, snow blowing, skidding, slipping, falling, and generally freezing your ass off. Except, as I implied above, when you happen to be a winter sports enthusiast -- or an oceanographer.

Last year was the coldest, snowiest in decades. This year just might be the mildest in decades. I'll let the scientists and politicians argue about whether it's due to global warming or not, although, according to new methods of analyzing glacial core samples in the arctic and antarctic, there's more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than there has been in the last 650,000 years. That's a scientific fact. No disputing it. 650,000 years is a seriously long time.

If, in fact, there is a thing called global warming, and if in fact it is caused by runaway industrialization and not Al Gore blowing hot gas into the atmosphere every time he speaks, it is a mixed blessing for future boatmen. As the glaciers melt, the oceans will rise, we'll get more waterfront. We might even get a much longer boating season, for awhile. Unfortunately, on the down side, extreme weather will be more prevalent; we'll see many more hurricanes, stronger ones with winds of 200 mph, devastating droughts, unusual temperature gradients, and the eventual onset of an ice age. The possibility that all the fundamental food groups in the sea will die off (due to the increased influx of UV radiation through the hole in the ozone layer, caused by the increase in ozone eating chlorine from CFCs) doesn't bode well for the sport fish industry. Rest assured we can always use our big, fat, empty ocean as a giant receptacle for our garbage and chemical waste. Oh wait, that's right, we do that already.

Many people like to point out this problem (and everything else) is all the fault of our current President, as if he invented the combustion engine and is single-handedly making sure each and every individual in this country burns as much fossil fuel as possible. I would like to point out that even if we had a President who made it his primary objective to reorient this country's technological future, the world situation would not change appreciably. Over 2.5 billion Chinese and Indian consumers will make sure of it. So will developing nations in the third world that expect the same environmental waivers we took advantage of when words like conservation and environmental protection hadn't yet been added to the American lexicon.

How do you convince the have-nots they can't have the same opportunity for growth?

For example, look at the Montreal Protocols to eliminate CFCs from production. Many nations signed the treaty, but regulations were prorated for developing countries. Hailed by Kofi Anon as one of the U.N.'s crowning achievements, the treaty is not enforceable, nor will it do much to change the health of the Ozone Layer, not when you have countries like India and China playing industrial catch up with nearly ten times the population of the U.S. (By some estimates, the smuggling of CFCs is second only to illegal drugs.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm for it. From an environmental point of view, it's a step in the right direction. Economically, globally, geo-politically, I'm not sure it's such a good idea to lead the way.

You know the Michael Jackson song, "I'm starting with the Man in the Mirror"? Say what you will about Michael (I know I will), but that's a great song.

You can't eat sea bass or swordfish and at the same time complain about the Kyoto Accords.

You can't blame President Bush for being environmentally irresponsible and at the same time own an old refrigerator that uses CFCs as a refrigerant.

You can't complain about the U.S. dependence on foreign oil and drive an SUV and, at the same time, protest against nuclear power.


No comments: