Friday, September 27, 2013

A CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE

The 5th IPCC report on climate change is out today, and it puts the blame of global warming squarely on human activity.  More than that, it says we are approaching a "tipping point" of no return in greenhouse gas emissions. When I was on the faculty of the University of Maryland, I worked with some of the climatologists of the IPCC, and I can assure you that climate change has progessed to the point where it cannot be ignored.  An even more disturbing development, largely below the radar of the press, is that climate change is happening 5-10 times faster than previously thought - so fast that the experts had to throw out their old models and develop new ones.

In the face of such dire news, we must ask ourselves, "What can I do that would make any difference?"

Here are some suggestions for where to start:
1.  For those of you in the San Antonio area, sign up for CPS's Windtricity® program.  You can get up to 100% of your electricity from wind power.  I do, and it adds about 10% to your energy bill.  As the cost of wind power comes down, the increment will be even less.  If you're not in San Antonio, hopefully a similar program is available where you live.

2.  Advocate for use of renewable energy (solar and wind).  Texas is already a leader in this area, but there is much more to be done, especially at a national level.

3.  When it is time to replace your car, get an electric or hybrid vehicle.  If you are on Windtricity, your electric vehicle will have true zero emissions.

4.  Conserve, conserve, conserve!

Even more urgently, there is a world-wide water crisis that does not get as much coverage as climate change. Unlike climate change, whose tipping point is "decades" away, the water crisis is going on now and will become acute within our lifetime. In many locations including Texas it is acute already; the rivers and aquifers are drying up. Part of this water shortage is related to droughts from climate change, but most of it is due to excess consumption of water due to the demands of agriculture:



Therefore, in order to reverse this water crisis, we need to revolutionize agriculture.  At the heart of this revolution is the need for humanity to give up meat and become vegetarian or even vegan:




Even more than that, we need to change the way our crops are raised.  Much water is lost in traditional irrigation.  Newer methods of micro-irrigation make the most of what what is available:





Also, the amount of water required to produce electricity is TEN TIMES the amount of water an average family uses.  So reducing electricity consumption further reduces water usage.

Finally, we cannot depend on governments to be pro-active.  Controlled by business interests, it is not their nature to avert a crisis but rather to wait for a crisis to act.

So what is left?  It is up to us to make a difference.  In a market-driven economy, we as consumers have the power to change the market.

May we think and act in ways that will help to preserve our planet.

Please forward this to your friends, and make a commitment to make a difference.

-bjd