On this Earth Day I would like to point out how truly limited we are when it comes to our understanding of the Earth, and how truly dependent we are on her and her gifts for our survival. It would be easy I suppose to tout a green day and green ways and all that superficial expression of our respect for the Earth, but in reality there is a lot more to living on the Earth than to simply think that all we have to do is go back to a rural, simple life style to once again be in harmony with the Earth. This is not the truth. To me truth is really synonymous with a harmonious existence with nature, with Earth.
We live on our planet half in darkness over her ways. For example we speak of Global Warming, and yes there is apparently a rise in temperature over the past forty years. Then again there was a drop in temperature in the forty years before that! I, for one, grew up expecting a new ice age, and it was rather surprising to find instead a warming trend. The scientists of the 1970’s were convinced of the Earth’s falling temperatures and were certain that this trend would continue. It did not, of course.
The fact that the Earth is warming now does not mean that it will continue to warm in the next fifty years. Those who swear upon the sacred stone that this tendency will continue are in fact assuming a little too much ,I think. The truth is we just do not know enough of what the Earth is capable of to make such assumptions. We do not fully understand the carbon cycle…for example, we cannot now be certain of where and how the Earth’s carbon dioxide is actually processed! This is an awfully critical lack of knowledge. To say that we know that Carbon Dioxide levels are warming the Earth’s temperature in one breath, and then, in the next to say that we really cannot account for all the world’s carbon dioxide, or where it comes from, or where it goes to, is a bit incongruous..at best.
We cannot explain why for example there was a rise in Carbon Dioxide levels some six hundred thousand years ago that actually surpassed the present rise. We simply do not know where all that CO2 came from back then yet we are certain that we know today that its main cause is our industry. As I have pointed out in my previous entry, there is little reason to think that we fully understand these cycles.
To be sure, these cycles are long, in the hundreds of thousands of years, and even in the millions of years, and that what we are seeing now is likely just a spike in temperature that is unlikely to last very long before going the other way. Whether this spike is being caused by man made CO2 or not is itself a question for debate. We just dont know. It is also quite possible that volcanic activity could be causing this spike, and perhaps the heating of the oceans is contributing in some major way to the rise of the CO2 level. WE JUST CANNOT BE CERTAIN.
Here is the main point of my entry today, on this Earth Day. WE DONT KNOW! We can take some guesses, we can see that there are some signs of rising temperatures and polar cap melting, but WE DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE WHAT THE CAUSE IS! I say this today, on this Earth Day not because I oppose the Green Movement, I do not. I rather support it. We need a cleaner world, perhaps even a more efficient, less wasteful world. But the real reason I say WE DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH is because I truly fear what may happen if we make a mistake based on an age old egotistical assumption that today is the first day of our total understanding of the nature of the universe. An assumption that has afflicted just about every civilization before our own, and an assumption that is likely to afflict every civilization after our own has departed.
There is a clear danger to some of these theories going around today, especially when it comes to possible remedies of the “Global Warming” phenomenon. Some have begun to suggest that our best strategy is to influence the way in which the ocean recycles carbon for example, but such interference is beyond our understanding. Others have suggested an immediate reduction in carbon dioxide exhausts, no matter what the consequence. Once again we don’t know enough about how this may affect our civilization in the first place, and in the second we do not know enough about how this may affect the natural cycles which we are experiencing!
So far we have assumed that it is our industry that is causing this “Global Warming” phenomenon. But is it? Are we really all that certain? If we dont know where the carbon actually goes, and how the carbon cycle actually works in its enterety how do we know for certain that our actions will be beneficial, or outright harmful? Sure if you make the assumption that we are the cause of this warming then you might come to the conclusion that if we were to stop polluting the atmosphere then we might lessen the impact on the environment. WHAT IS CRUELLY AMUSING TO ME IS THAT EVEN THIS ASSUMPTION MAY WELL BE WRONG! Even if we are the main cause of this warming trend we cannot yet be certain that lessening our CO2 impact on the environment will be beneficial or harmful!
The fact is that if you do not fully understand the underlying process(which we do not) then there is little reason to expect that we would have the cure simply by abstaining. That would be like saying that once you have contracted malaria you are far more likely to be cured if you stay in a room without mosquitoes. The fact is that this is not the likely cure to malaria, but it is perhaps a good prevention. Therefore I am saying that a prevention of an illness is quite effective before contracting the disease, not after. To cut carbon dioxide pollution now may or may not be effective in changing the temperature of the Earth and may even be contraindicated. Perhaps you can cure your malaria by getting on a bus and heading to the nearest hospital though you will run into a few mosquitoes on the way, and maybe even get bit a few times.
Be aware that when I say Carbon Dioxide POLLUTION that it is not a mere slip of the toungue but a purposeful description of what Carbon Dioxide exhaust really is..it is pollution! And yes I fully support lessening the amounts of Carbon Dioxide that we release into the atmosphere…but saying that means nothing in regards to curing “Global Warming” where we are really talking something much different than mere pollution.
The fact is that we really do not know what impact a lessening of carbon dioxide emissions will have on Global Warming. Some of the more radical “corrections” such as to tamper with certain natural processes so as to increase carbon dioxide absorption etc could well be catastrophic.
A little example of what I mean…imagine that we have harnessed the tide coming from the east river on the east side of Manhattan. Let us say we have put a thousand turbines in the river and each time the tide goes out we can harness that energy and turn it into electricity. How wonderful that would be…and when the tide comes back in from the ocean well just harness that too! How wonderful and how green that would be. Actually it is likely to be a little more green than we wish it to be. You see there is a likelyhood that if this is overdone(and that is always more likely than not) we would quickly realise that most of the movement of the water is actually absorbed by our turbines. Thus there would really be very little change up stream. Instead of having that waste from the upper hudson and the long island sound moving and circulating it would more likely stay in place(a lot like what is happening on the Colorado river due to the Hoover dam.) In the end there is always a price to pay for everything we do. Never believe that using wind and solar and tidal, or geo thermal alternative energy will not have its price. IT WILL! EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE. Our only defense is balance and to measure everything carefully…to keep things in balance, in HARMONY!
The ultimate problem with trying to make the world’s energy resources less dirty is that all this will have a terrible impact on the economy if not done carefully! If you have not realized that our world’s economy is in dire trouble, and with it the very future of our civilization, it is time to look out the window. We are in trouble. Serious trouble. We are beginning to find that everything we do is a lot harder than we once thought it would be. Everything has a price and we have done a little too much for a little too long without actually paying the price for what we did, so we borrowed time, and resources and faith, and here we are…on the verge of a cataclysmic social collapse. Now add to this the burden of actually going “green” and we may well doom ourselves to certain disaster. The cost of going green in an uncontrolled, unmeasured, untempered thoughtless way could be catastrophic. Its the absolute last thing we should do without great consideration and very slow, deliberate movements.
Keep in mind, we need alternative energy(no I am not a split personality) but what we need is to attain these alternatives in a measured, gradual, careful manner. All things in good measure. We must have a proportionate search for alternative energy sources in order to be successful. In this way we may well find a way to pollute less, yet have more energy with which to grow our industries, and do so with less of an impact on our already fragile economy, and on our environment. What we do not need is a violent and thoughtless reaction based on little more than politics and views which may ultimately be groundless. If we wish to honor the Earth, lets start first by admitting that we do not know enough about her to prescribe any medicine for what we may perceive to ail her. In the end, we do not know what really ails her, and we sure don’t know what her cure might be!
On this Earth Day and for the years that are to follow, which are likely to be more challenging than most, it would be fitting to celebrate Earth’s beauty and bountiful gifts with a sincere commitment to a balanced, and harmonious existence with her, and with each other. In the end the real poison almost always seems to be excess, and the ensuing inbalance that ultimately causes our lives to become unstable and our purpose and outlook uncertain. When we wish to celebrate the Earth, and in so doing preserve her beauty and our own life within hers, we should all make that commitment to balance, and harmony in everything that we do, even as we struggle to keep our civilization from transgressing against her. In this way we are far more likely to experience the goodness of the Earth and enjoy a healthy, possibly even happy coexistence with nature, for the most part. The first step is to get our collective attitudes towards our world to be a little more down to Earth than they have been in the past. Happy Earth Day!