Posts tagged ‘Oceans’

April 10, 2011

Our Most Important Concern

The fabulous lake in Big Bear

How quickly we can forget what’s happening to our environment. This article I found covers it so well. My only comment is read the article and think about it a moment. If enough people pause a moment and take stock of what is happening outside of their own sphere of influence then change for the better may occur quicker than it is happening now.

written by Matthew McDermott, a Treehugger blogger

So much of environmentalism is about looking forward. Looking forward to the more socially and ecologically sustainable world we’re trying to create. Looking forward via climate modeling, projections of energy use, resource consumption, and population growth, to attempt to foretell the type of world we, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with, adapt to, and live in.

That’s important stuff, no doubt. But how much of that looking forward is constrained by our seeming inability to remember the past? Is our collective cultural memory (or sometimes lack thereof and oftentimes quickly diminishing) a critically important and neglected factor in environmental thinking?

If you’ve gleaned where I’m going with this, that I do think we ought to be doing some more self-reflection, both personally and collectively, about what we remember, what our parents remember and what our societies remember, you’re right.

What brings this to front of mind today is an interesting factoid that Andy Revkin highlights in his column over in the New York Times.

Revkin points out a study that talks about ‘disaster memory’ and relates it to the massive infrastructural expansion and concurrent energy use explosion that has occurred in so-called developed nations since World War 2 and continues at breakneck pace in China, India and elsewhere, in far too unquestioning mimicry today.

The point of relation is that it’s taken decades of building nuclear power plants in places at risk of both tsunami and earthquake for the very word tsunami to appear in planning guidelines. It wasn’t until 2006 that it appeared.

Could it be a lack of historically relevant disaster memory that caused the lapse in judgement?

Revkin writes,

One clue to the lack of concern might simply be the roughly 40-year period of relative seismic calm (in terms of a lack of great quakes in populous places) from the 1960s into the 2000s, as shown in the chart [below] from Bilham’s report. (And note the remote locations of nearly all the great earthquakes from the middle of the 20th century–Alaska, southern Chile, far eastern Russia).
In the original there are links galore supporting this theory, but the thing that strikes me is that this lack of disaster memory could just as easily and aptly apply to many other pressing environmental issues as well–inasmuch as what we consider normal levels of energy use, gadget use, clothing purchases, car usage, flying, et cetera etc etc in the really not so distant past were lower.

Just one example, air conditioning use. What once was considering a luxury is unquestioningly now called a necessity in more and more places–in the process ignoring entirely the fact that 1) air conditioning is a historically modern invention, 2) places used to be built with natural cooling in mind, 3) it simply isn’t a necessity for the vast majority of people, however cooler we might feel on a scorching day ducking into an air conditioned building. Our collective memory of how to exist without air conditioning has been erased in the span of just a couple of decades.

the incredible sabertooth tiger now extinct

Extinct Saber Tooth Tiger

Other examples: How often people used to eat meat (hint, it’s way lower than is done now, at least in the US and Europe), how many gadgets you need to be entertained, how to build communities not centered around de facto mandatory automobile ownership, how many fish used to swim in streams and the oceans, how many birds used to fly in the skies, how many bigger animals used to be in our forests.

I could go on and on. Be clear that what I’m not advocating is just a rosy-glassed version of the past, ignoring those things that are better today than a half century, century or more past. There have undoubtedly been changes that are positive for human development. But in continuing to support those positive changes in human development, maintaining them today and in the future, equitably expanding them where possible, let’s remember to turn around and remember how things used to be done where appropriate. Doing so can only help that effort.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

October 14, 2010

Listen to Ted Danson

Ted Danson

Vote NO on Prop 23
Texas oil companies are trying to erase California’s progress in the fight against climate change. Help create millions of green jobs and stand up for California and the oceans’ future.

Act Now
We can’t let Texas oil companies make California – and our oceans – dirty.

Prop 23, funded by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro, will be up on November’s ballot. If it passes, California will be prohibited from making progress on its greenhouse gas emission goals until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or less for one year. Something that has only occurred three times in almost four decades.

Pledge to vote NO on Prop 23 and keep California a leader in fighting climate change »

Prop 23 is a massive step backwards for California’s leadership in climate change. Not only will it prevent further progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it will repeal and essentially erase all the climate change progress California has made since the state’s landmark 2006 law.

While these oil companies want you to believe climate change legislation hurts the economy, the truth is it will create millions of green jobs and help establish California as an economic leader in alternative energy.

Our oceans need clean energy. Dependence on dirty fossil fuels, like oil, is changing the oceans’ very chemistry. Emissions in the atmosphere are changing the chemical make up of our oceans, making them more acidic and severely affecting marine life like corals and shellfish. As part of sensitive and vast marine ecosystems, reefs are vitally important to the overall health of the oceans – and the planet.

I know I can count on you to support California’s efforts to reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a sustainable future. Vote No on Prop 23 on November 2nd »

For the oceans,
Ted Danson
Actor, Activist, Board Member

PS. We need your help in getting the word out that Prop 23 is disastrous for California and our oceans. Please take the pledge and forward this email to 5 friends, share it on Facebook and post it on Twitter.