Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Definition of Climate Change

"The Black Rhino is extinct in West Africa" - a global headline on the eve of COP17. The area north of Durban happens to be one of the few places where the few remaining Black and White Rhino can be found. Can you believe that in our lifetime an animal as big and majestic as a Rhinoceros might disappear from existence. And for what...knife handles and alternative medicine, likely a placebo.
Besides loosing a great wonder of nature, which is fun to look at and perhaps not a very consequential cog in the ecosystem, so why does it matter? And besides, what can most of us non-dagger carriers do about the rhino, besides shooting the poachers which doesn't seem very social.
In the last 30 years global fish stocks have been reduced significantly by over fishing. As an example for every 11 Cod that were in the Atlantic Ocean in 1970, there is 1 now. Yikes...I eat fish. If we do some rough math that means no more Cod to eat in a few years.
Everytime we eat meat, we have taken away food from 7 people...i.e. The food it took to feed the cow. Aren't their millions starving, or is that billions?
To produce a bottle of water involves using 3-7 bottles of water depending on the company. Fiji Water is 7. That's like taking a 10 minute shower and then leaving it running for another hour. Isn't water our most precious resource? I'm sure we would all choose a bucket of water over a bar of gold when the survival chips are down
So why does all of this matter since our lives are comfortable and these are other peoples problems...yes, our children's problems, and maybe our problems in a few years. Our actions as consumers - eating, driving, wearing, reading, spending money...- dictate how companies and governments decide to use and abuse the Earth's natural resources. It's comforting to know that they put our "wants" ahead of the environment...or is it? So clearly we have the power to help save species, preserve resources and save human lives.
The solution is temperance. If we all thought through every act of consumption we performed and adjusted accordingly so as not to be excessive. Do I really need a 6 cylinder car or can I make do with a 4, is as important an analysis and choice, as why I really need to get that new pair of jeans or drink that extra beer(like beef, alcohol also takes a lot off food off people's tables).
But how do we have time for this level of consciousness. Since it will involve changes to our routine as well time spent understanding what exactly our impact might be in our various walks of life. This is all seems very time consuming.
In the U.S. the average person watches 4 hours of TV per night! Im sure the rest of the TV watching world is not far behind. How about reading novels and newspapers. How about political discourse. There is plenty of time in these typical activities that could be reassigned to making us better consumers, and who knows, could be more fulfilling than watching NCIS repeats.
The term Climate Change is very controversial and leads to multinational gridlock on how to deal with it. Part of the problem seems to be the average person's understanding of what it means. The science reports of climate change read like a quantum mechanics definition...brain freeze material.
Climate change is better defined by the Rhino situation. Every decision we make and every action that we take that effects the natural world results in climate change. When we overdo it, then climate change becomes detrimental to the future (not too distant) of life as we know it. To prevent climate change requires grassroots temperance and then what scientists and politicians have to say wont matter. Why wait for laws to determine how we live our lives. Let's re-mould our own lifestyles so that they are in harmony with that of the rhino and the rest of the natural world. Our freedom gives us that power.

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