When I first started this effort to spread the word about my concerns for the natural world, my focus was on the science of forestry and current management of our remaining forested lands. Time, observation and study have demonstrated that my concerns are not limited to forestry, but rather apply to science in general, human cultural values and life styles. Listening daily to news reporting and searching for factual information on current human impacts on the natural world, is resulting in my concerns intensifying rather than subsiding. I have reported in the past about our expanding world population and the expected demands this will place on our natural surroundings as well as the continuing deforesting of our remaining forest covered lands. Our demands for resources from our natural surroundings and the expanding demand for cleared lands for agriculture, transportation and urbanization will obviously accelerate the destruction of the natural world we rely on for the sustenance of the life systems on our planet. We are being bombarded by our political leadership suggesting we can make “America Great Again”, so it was time to look at the facts. Our world population is expanding by 75 million people every year, we have reduced our forest covered land by more than 50% and continue to deforest the equivalent of 20 football fields every minute worldwide. The United States health care system is ranked the worst among the top 10 industrialized Nations in quality of care, access to doctors and equity. In fact, the World Health Report in 2000 rated the U.S. as 37th for health care performance. Related to health care is life expectancy where the U.S. continues to fall. In 2013 we ranked 26th and in 2017 we have fallen to 43rd. Once a world leader in education, we now rate 14th among the other countries of the world. It is difficult to find somewhere that we are holding on to our world leadership reputation.
So, what does the future offer? Leadership under the control of the wealthy elite few, is not willing to accept the factual data that knowledgeable scientists are gathering and updating daily. Decisions are being made to maximize wealth and profitability rather than sustaining life systems, including our human species. A few voices are heard attempting to find solutions that might offer some relief, but fall on deaf ears most of the time. We all recognize that the required changes will impact our economic systems and life styles, and are therefore not anxious to proceed into the unknown. If true leadership can be found, it must accept the scientific data and define for the public what the real problem is. Without informed consent of the problem, the old adage, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, will continue to drive us into abyss.
Global warming and climate change are not a figment of our imagination! Science tells us the best measurement of global warming is the monitoring of ocean temperatures. As humans continue to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the oceans have attempted to temper the effect by absorbing more than 90% of the heat from these gases. In 2018, we set a new record for ocean temperatures. Scientists tell us that if all the heat the oceans have absorbed since 1955 were suddenly released into the atmosphere, air temperatures would rocket by more than 60 degrees. The cooling of the Earth’s surface by our remaining forest cover is vital to helping slow global warming! Factual data confirms warming ocean temperatures are resulting in the ice melting six times faster today than it was in the 1980’s. According to knowledgeable scientific data, Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate with sea levels having risen 8 inches since 1900 and rising faster today then at any time over the past 2000 years. Shrinking our land base due to raising sea levels will have devastating impacts on millions, if not billions of people.
Do we really have a problem? Is there any thing we can do about it? Won’t advanced science and technology find solutions for the future? Is it worth the cost and life changes that will be required? The first question can only be answered by strong leadership that is willing to study the scientific facts and develop and communicate the real problems to the public, so as to gain acceptance for realistic solutions required for future generations. None of the adverse changes to our critical natural world can be solved with simple solutions, but all potential solutions must provide for improvement over the current condition. Time is not on our side, but we must slow down and focus on problem definition if we hope to find realistic solutions. Problem solving is not easy, but there is no doubt the focus must be on public involvement through problem definition rather than jumping into technical unproven solutions. Solutions will come from the bottom up once we begin working together to solve problems! Is not that the major purpose of a democratic government? I keep hearing people suggest our government is broken. We the people are the government! It is government leadership that is questionable, but must be controlled by the power of your vote. It is we the people that must make the final decisions and adjustments not the few that are driven by profit and wealth! There is much work to be done and fiddling while Earth burns will not provide a desirable future!