I was long ago convinced that democratically-elected representative government offered the best governance and free-market capitalism provided the most and best-quality goods and services at the fairest prices for the most people. And nothing has caused me to change.
But these systems, being human contrivances, are not perfect. And neither self-government nor the free market does much to preserve our depleting natural resources or to protect our endangered environment from human degradation.
It seems the horse must be out of the barn before we decide to close the barn door. We also seem convinced that there will always be more resources out there whenever we need them. Unfortunately, there’s not. These God-given resources, even the water we drink and the clean air we breathe, are ultimately finite commodities.
Any warnings by concerned professionals and academics who have dedicated a lifetime to studying and researching the earth sciences and the effects of human activities are conveniently dismissed. Detractors claim these warnings are the rantings of cloistered, out-of-touch liberal academics bent on spoiling the enjoyment of our rights as a free people. And judging from recent election results, this viewpoint is shared by the majority of Americans. This is especially disconcerting from a people who profess, along with their religious piety and patriotic zeal, a love and respect for God’s creation. But shouldn’t this love include protecting and preserving His handwork for future generations’ survival and enjoyment?
Without a doubt the most immanent (and controversial) environmental endangerment is human-induced global warming and the resultant melting of the polar ice cap. An unexpected rise in the sea level is already measurable along our seacoasts and threatens to inundate some low-lying populated islands in the South Pacific by the middle of this century. This is not iffy prediction or speculation by out-of-touch academics; this is visible, verifiable, measurable fact. It’s only the causality that might be in question.
Over a decade ago I attended a seminar conducted by Dr. James K. Russell, noted Brown University climatologist and the son of two of my friends. He shared the conclusions of his findings from an extensive research project in which he was involved conducted over a period of years in western Jordan just east of Israel. The findings revealed that the earth’s temperature pattern has shown a slight, steady increase over many centuries. But in the early 1800s there was a dramatic rise that continues today. Although absolute causality is difficult to establish, the correlation evidence is overwhelming. Significantly, this sudden temperature increase occurred about the same time humans began to abandon the use of wood in their homes and factories for the more economical, efficient and more accessible fossil fuels, mainly coal and petroleum. This is not speculation, mind you. This is measurable fact attested by ninety-seven percent of the world’s earth scientists. What, pray tell, has the other three percent been smoking?
George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at email@example.com.