Friday, April 22, 2011

It’s Getting Heated

Perhaps one of the most talked about subjects, especially around “Earth Day,” is the environment and the problems that face it. The discussion is generally divided into two major sections, the people who believe that we should actively do something in order to take care of our planet and the people who say it’s better to just leave well enough alone.

The question I have is how did these two groups come to be? Obviously, no one wishes to end the earth and eradicate all living things as quickly as possible. Being able to live is something that everyone generally agrees upon. So why has the environment become a worldwide issue?

Let’s take a look at the debate from the standpoint of the founder and creator of Earth Day, John McConnell. McConnell has demonstrated a major passion for peace, religion, and science throughout his life and has made efforts to relieve human suffering and promote the common good.

It was John McConnell's concern for the environment in the late 1960s and early 1970s that led to his push to create a holiday to celebrate the Earth's life and beauty. McConnell intended Earth Day to alert earthlings about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. The Earth Day Proclamation stated how humanity living on Earth is all responsible for caring and keeping the Earth clean.

"Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure." -John McConnell

McConnell had witnessed firsthand the man-made problems that contributed to things like hunger, poverty and global warming. A heaping handful of individuals agree with McConnell believing that humans had a major impact on the things that surrounded us. To the founder of Earth Day and to countless others, only we humans had the responsibility to protect the earth because we humans were the ones that made our earth to be this way today. But what about the people who do not agree that it are solely our responsibility to take care of the earth?

"The authors identify and describe the following global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate: (1) solar radiation ..., (2) out-gassing as a major supplier of gases to the World Ocean and the atmosphere, and, possibly, (3) microbial activities ... . The writers provide quantitative estimates of the scope and extent of their corresponding effects on the Earth’s climate [and] show that the human-induced climatic changes are negligible." -George V. Chilingar, Professor of Civil and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California

George V. Chilingarian is a Professor of Civil and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California. Chilingarian is one of the best-known petroleum geologists in the world and the founder of several prominent journals in the oil and gas industry. With 61 books and hundreds of articles on geology, petroleum engineering and environmental engineering published under his belt, the fact that he serves as president of the U.S. branch of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, 17 of his books have been translated into Russian and on top of all that, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences has honored him as a Knight of Arts and Sciences, it’s hard to say that he doesn’t know anything about the world we live in today.

The thing is Chilingarian is on the opposite spectrum of the global warming debate and the views of John McConnell and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Chilingarian believes that the earth behaves the way it does regardless of the human activity that is acted upon it. Chilingarian, people unaware of global warming in developing nations, people unsure of the findings in already developed and those companies and people associated with making a profit off of the human activity that is believed to be the cause for global warming all disagree that global warming is actually occurring.

What made this a world issue wasn’t really a debate. According to the discussions that are going on today most scientists accept that humans are contributing to observed climate change. National science academies have called on world leaders for policies to cut global emissions. However, some scientists and non-scientists still question aspects of climate-change science.

The way I see it this “questioning” is either a lack of understanding about the situation and people in the pursuit of wealth and their own personal gains. I just worry that if we as a species continue to only focus on the here and now and not on the entirety of our survival and don’t do something about our global situation soon that it will be too late. The planet earth is the only habitable planet that we can reside on at the moment, and if this weren’t the case in the future and we had a “backup planet” to fall on, we would eventually need to figure out a way to stop the damaging effects that we have on our environment before we messed that planet up too.

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