Earth Day Questions: What Will Be the Climate When My Grandchildren Are Adults? Congress Cares?28 Apr
I wrote this Earth Day reflection from the perspective of a grandparent. It summarizes the accomplishments of Earth Day and how so much more needs to be done for the planet and our grandchildren.
Earth Day started in April 22, 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, who channeled the momentum of the anti Vietnam war movement to raise awareness of gluttonous gasoline consumption, sickening exhaust emissions from vehicles, industrial smoke stack pollution, along with air and water contamination.
The first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. This was due to the political alignment of Democrats, Republicans, labor leaders, and the wealthy.
There have been successive Earth Day events since 1970 with millions participating at home and overseas. Yet in spite of the Earth Day movement, environmental conditions are worsening and affecting our weather, oceans, snow, ice, ecosystems, and society. In addition to natural causes, human use of fossil fuels is aggravating matters by the emissions of billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year.
With ever-greater emissions, our grandchildren will encounter an increasingly hostile planet where mere survival will be difficult. They will probably experience more devastating hurricanes, greater number of destructive tornadoes, vast sections of mid west drought that will ruin crops, almost total elimination of glaciers, extinction of polar bears and other species, flooded coastal regions and fires that will exhaust equipment and personnel to contain them.
There is modest hope to limit the effects of climate change according to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.
- Replace corporate and income taxes with a carbon tax
- Borrow money to invest in infrastructure
- Make permanent tax incentives for renewable energies
- Insure that no more coal-fired power plants will be built
However, these steps will probably not happen due to the enormous influence exerted on Congress and the White House by political campaign contributions from oil/gas and coal industries. If millions of people insisted, political indebtedness could be curtailed by severely limiting political campaign contributions, perhaps according to the Canadian Election Acts.
Thus, we could get on with saving the environment for our grandchildren. My granddaughters, Vivian, Charlotte, and Leah will be in their early twenties in another 20 years. I don’t want them to remember me as part of the Worst Generation, myopically focused on creating shareholder value and fixated on the next multi-year, presidential fund-raising cycle. And, most of all, I want an inhabitable earth for them.
J. H. Everson SBIR ConsultantTags: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Endangered Species Act, Thomas Friedman