When people see me or hear me talk about the issues plaguing the planet, they take a few seconds to register I’m not being sarcastic, then give me the look. Either that, or they laugh.
The government’s environmental policies can be described as corrupt and spineless. Our schools’ approach is using the environment club member to pick up trash from the playground after recess. The media is concerned about an old lady complaining about the smell from her house built illegally near some sewage ‘plant’.
Yesterday was Earth Hour Day 2010. This event began in Sydney, Australia in 2007. In 2009, 800 million people participated in the event from 88 countries. This year, it is believed that Earth Hour has broken all its previous records to include 126 countries that signed up to be part of the event (including Lebanon) and some 13,000+ monuments and landmarks across the world were turned off. For those of you who don’t know, Earth Hour is held on the last Saturday of March every year, where businesses and households who are participating switch off the lights and non-essential appliances to call for action towards climate change.
Here are some famous landmarks that flipped the switch between 8.30 and 9.30 PM local time
But I didn’t write this post to copy paste images from Flickr about EarthHour 2010, I want to reach out to the people who still think climate change is a myth, or unimportant to them. To those who think global warming won’t really have an effect on them directly. To those who believe business comes first.
Earth provides the human race with a lot of goods and services that we do not really appreciate. The goods, you all know, are the resources we exploit irresponsibly all over the world. However, it’s the services which I want to turn your attention too.
- Air filtration and O2 production. Let us imagine all the heterotophs that undergo photosynthesis on the planet disappear. This means that no CO2 will be absorbed to turn into glucose, and no O2 is produced as a byproduct. In other words, the bad air plants and other organisms take in, is usually given back filtered and recycled. If all these organisms were gone, we would have to filter our air ourselves. Imagine not being to go out because you need to stay in a controlled environment where air quality needs to be manually adjusted 24/7. If you believe we have the capability to filter all of Earth’s atmosphere, all the time, how much will that cost? How feasible would that project be? Mother Nature does that for us, and it does so with extreme efficiency and consistency, for free. So, investing in our rain forests and tundra goes far beyond our moral obligation, but is actually an investment in our economies and in fact our very existence. Instead of spending trillions of dollars and decades figuring how to filter our air, why not just allocate a minute fraction of this amount to conserving what forests we have left.
- Water filtration. Even though this process is much easier than filtering air and enriching with oxygen, it still is a colossally absurd thing to artificially initiate. The water cycle: sea > clouds > rain > underground wells > springs > rivers and back to sea again, is an essential element that ensures our survival. In fact, just like Oxygen, we can’t live without water to drink and irrigate our crops (apart from the dozens of other uses we have for water). Climate change disrupts this water cycle, and hence deprives us of water. Some already water-deprived nations desalinate water (convert seawater into potable water). This however is not a cheap process and implementing in all the nations of the world is practically impossible. Even now, when cheap, natural water is not too scarce, over 1 billion people have no access to clean potable water. Imagine what that number would be if countries such as sub-saharan African nations had to desalinate their own water, when even basic infrastructure is non-existent today. Also, I’m sure you are all aware of the imminent conflicts that will arise as a result of water disputes, and in fact, Lebanon is no stranger to this issue (Israeli attempts to re-channel Lebanese rivers to Israeli territories). So, investing in conserving our water resources is an extremely smarter idea than desalinating the whole world’s water, in both practical terms and economical ones.
- Pollination. This is a somewhat less obvious, yet equally important issue. Every single plant and tree on this planet realies on pollination to procreate. Often times, the pollination is done by a vector organism, such as insects or birds, which unwittingly carry pollen stuck to them from flower to flower, as they feed on the nutritious nectar the plant offers as a reward. The millions of crops grown every year in every single part of the world rely mainly on these organisms to flourish, and ultimately provide us with nutrition. But unwise pesticide and insecticide policies are leading many of these species towards extinction, threatening this complex symbiotic relationship essential for life on Earth to continue. Imagine all the bees die (like those seen in 2006 across the US and Europe). This phenomenon, called ‘colony collapse disorder’ has a serious economic impact, because after all, bees are the main pollinators of nearly all commercial crops. Although the exact causes are disputed, they can safely be attributed to changes in climate (or cellphone radiation, which I find silly). Imagine we’d have to painstakingly pollinate every single flower of every single plant and tree. This would take millions of man hours and I don’t really see a way of automating this process, since plants are versatile organism and not a standard copy of each other (and even if we could automate it, imagine the cost). 15 Billion dollars-worth of crops are pollinated by bees. Pollinating them ourselves would definitely cost more than that. Is investing a tiny portion of that sum in bee conservation and research too much to ask?
These are 3 aspects to help you reconsider your position regarding climate change and global warming. I hope when you understand the scope of the economic disadvantage of destroying our environment would bring, you might appreciate and support efforts to help it. So, please, try to take small steps and Go Green.
Note: If the whole of Lebanon had participated in EarthHour 2010, we would’ve saved $29,000 worth of electricity, so prepare yourselves for next year!
Some resources to help: