I’d like to thank both the editorial staff of the Headlight Herald and Jim Haley’s letter to the editor on December 26th, for the publication of Jim’s opinion on climate change. Presenting opinions on both sides of the debate are not only beneficial for all to hear, but also allows each side to try and understand how opinions concerning climate change are formed in the first place.
Rather than fact check all of the points Jim makes concerning his opinions “that man has nothing to do with those (climate) changes” and “compelling humanity to change its method of existence based on this (climate) belief is not supported by facts”, I would like to just simplify this discussion into two basic principles. First is to acknowledge that this planet for the past 200 years continues to enter into a phase of overall climate warming. Secondly, regardless if you feel that the earth’s population has had anything to do with this trend in the past or not, the very fact that CO2 levels in our atmosphere are increasing and do play a role in increasing the temperatures of our planet, would make one conclude that any activity that expels CO2 into the atmosphere, whether sourced from volcanoes, forest fires or fossil fuel burning, would contribute to and accelerate this greenhouse effect. Why then, I propose to Jim, would we not be better served to slow the addition of atmospheric CO2 in any way possible to help mitigate these effects? I have often heard in the media that limiting the use of fossil fuels will have a long lasting and detrimental effect on our fossil fuel dependent economy. However, I would make the counterpoint that by ignoring the effects of climate warming, it’s effects will cost all of us more in the future. Perhaps higher premiums to insure our homes and property from fire and flood (if one can get insurance at all). Perhaps higher food costs as agriculture will have to move due to increases in temperature and/or lack of moisture and fisheries will continue to be disrupted due to changes in ocean pH and/or temperatures. Higher property and housing costs as people are forced to move from flooding coastal communities. And finally, due to the frequency and strength of storms and fires, higher taxes due to resulting deficits as federal disaster funds become totally depleted by storms that individually, can costs billions of dollars in relief and rebuilding.
The most important point though is our inability to conserve and plan for the health of our environment (planet?) for the benefit of our children and grandchildren who are destined to inherit the issues we refuse to address. The “living in the now” is perhaps the only option for people in our communities who are living on the edge, barely able to earn a living wage to pay their monthly expenses. However, by living in a way that will benefit future generations will lift the economic tides of all peoples, by creating economic and educational opportunities that will better serve the energy needs and environmental concerns of current and future generations.
My parents were part of “the greatest generation”, a generation that strove through the challenges of world wars and depressions. I fear that my own generation will be known as “the lost generation”. A generation that refuses to accept the unique challenges of our times, refusing to come up with viable, economic and political solutions that will have lasting benefits for those who are to follow us. Each generation has stood on the shoulders of giants that came before them. Perhaps now, we all need to stand tall and together for our children’s children.