Failing to acknowledge the problem
Most of us know the tale of the teacher who placed a frog in a pan of water for his students to observe. The water was cool, just the right temperature for the frog. Then the teacher slowly warmed the pan.
The water temperature rose, but the frog seemed not to notice, for he made no attempt to leave. The temperature reached the point where any frog placed directly therein would have been uncomfortable, but the frog stayed still. This continued until the temperature neared the danger level, yet the frog sat, oblivious to the threat.
The moral is this: Danger, when presented in small increments, causes little alarm and can lead to one’s demise.
Today, we are the frogs in the pan. The earth is warming, and we carry on as if it isn’t.
The evidence is glaring. Glaciers are retreating. Record high temperatures occur more and more often. Ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are melting and thinning. The water enters the ocean, causing it to rise. During the last century and a quarter, oceans have risen 6-8 inches, 3 inches of which occurred during the past 20 years.
This rise has impacted low-lying areas.
Venice, already sinking because of its poor foundation, experiences increasingly frequent floods. America’s barrier islands, protectors of the east coast from storms, are slowly being submerged. Low-lying towns in Florida fight ever higher tides. The encroaching waters cause erosion which results in exposure and rusting of infrastructure such as waterlines.
Earth’s permafrost is thawing, and the organic matter making up the soil will decay and create more carbon dioxide. This adds to the global warming problem.
The most visible and horrific evidence is seen in photographs of the Arctic ice sheet taken decades again and now. When compared, there is no doubt the ice pack is shrinking. Even worse, in the most ironic demonstration of greedy human nature, nations are already positioning to control the oil fields beneath the frigid waters. If there is any greater example of convoluted thinking, I’m not aware of it.
Now, the frog can be excused for not hopping out of the pan. He neither controlled the heat nor caused his eventual doom.
Such cannot be said for humanity. Not only has mankind created global warming, people have done little to slow its growth. Though most know of global warming, they take little action to address the issue. The worst are those more concerned with short-term gains than long-term catastrophic effects.
Don’t count on solutions
“Think globally. Act locally.” That slogan sounds good, but addressing global warming that way simply does not work. I’ve already changed my lightbulbs to LEDs. I don’t drive a gas guzzler, and I keep my tires inflated. Yet the earth continues to warm.
I would love to buy an electric car to avoid using fossil fuels, but such cars are cost prohibitive for me and most Americans. I’d love to install an array of solar cells on my roof, but again I cannot afford them.
No, this problem is international in scope, and international problems seldom are solved.
America cannot even address its own portion of the cause. Even discussion of the addressing global warming raises objections. “It doesn’t matter because China won’t stop polluting even if we do,” or “It’s too expensive,” or “There has always been climate change,” or “Global warming is a hoax.”
Neither you nor I can address this issue effectively. Our meager actions have nothing but a minuscule effect. Addressing global warming will require action by our government, and that means policies, practices, and laws must change. Don’t get your hopes up, though.
Humans seldom acknowledge danger until threats hover directly over them, and even then they often fail to act. Even worse, companies harvesting fossil fuels have no incentive to alter their actions. They give/donate/bribe millions to politicians to avoid the issue altogether. They employ think tanks to divide Americans on the topic, often creating rifts along party lines.
There was not much hope for that frog. Sadly, there is not much hope for us either. But we have reason to be embarrassed and ashamed.
An unrelated observation
Have you noticed those who insist “All Lives Matter” when someone says “Black Lives Matter” never say “God Bless All The World” when someone says “God Bless America”?
— Community Columnist Ray Buursma is a resident of Holland. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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