Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Mother Nature

Over the last few years, eco-mania has swept the nation, and businesses from all industries have hopped on the bandwagon, slapping "green" labels on anything that's not nailed down (and some things that are). How can consumers who want to be environmentally friendly tell which companies' products are sincere, and which ones are just a bunch of greenwash to promote sales?

Why have some people started claiming that global warming is out of control and the greenhouse effect will soon make life uninhabitable on earth, while others deny that global warming even exists?

Why does any of it matter?

It matters because we are all global citizens. Though I may be a proud Kentucky girl, the truth is that all of humanity inhabits this one small blue planet; the third rock from the Sun (which isn't even a particularly impressive star when considering the zillions out there in the universe). And even though I may never have been to China before, that doesn't mean that the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants in that country don't have any effect on the air I breathe, and vice versa. How do you think ash fall from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state ended up in Oklahoma? Same principle.

When you think about it, our planet is a pretty swell place to live. It's full of beauty and diversity. The Earth is so unique, in fact, that it's the only one known to support life. How bizarre is that? And when something is the only one of it's kind (sort of like Tigger), it is considered to be endangered. Logically, when something is endangered, it needs to be protected...and thus, the birth of the concept for conservation (the word conserve comes from the Latin term "conservare," literally meaning "to protect").

So, is global warming real? Yes and no. "Global warming" is a very misleading phrase that the media latched onto and ran with. I try to abstain from using the expression in general (though it occasionally slips out). Science shows that throughout Earth's history, there are times of global cooling (a.k.a. ice ages, or glaciations) and times of global warming (interglacial periods, like the one we're living in). There have been as many as five major ice ages throughout Earth's history, so it's safe to say our planet has been around the block a few times. It's a process called climate change. So yes, we are in a period of global warming. Is it a human generated effect, as some would have you believe? Of course not. But then again, you can't industrialize an entire civilization, pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for over a century, and expect not to have any adverse effects. We're not the cause, but we are contributors, and it's important to realize that.

How do I have any authority on the matter? Well, I'm an environmental science major. This is what I do. I'm working hard to pay my tuition so that I can have the opportunity to learn about these kinds of things. I chose to devote my career to this kind of work because I want my great great grandchildren to be able to enjoy the same quality of life that we all experience be able to know nature first hand, and not have to read about it in a book. That's why I take classes in things like water resources, ecosystem restoration, land planning, forestry, soil science, renewable energy, sustainable food production, and wildlife management.

Okay, enough rambling. What's the purpose of this blog? Simply this: to find the real science behind all the bullshit, and share it with others. I'll be updating quite often to let my readers know what's going on within the environmental movement, and report breaking news from the front lines of the green revolution.

Tune in next time.

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