“It is horrifying,” wrote Ansel Adams, “that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”

“The only way forward,” wrote Richard Rogers, “if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.

I shocked

During this past summer, I’ve spent hours reading magazine articles, newspaper and scientific articles related to the environment. It appears that if we don’t get serious about reducing pollution, this planet is going to be uninhabitable in less than 100 years.

My study has led me to an awful conclusion. Permit me to describe my conclusion with a bit of imagination. I have a great-grandson. In the year 2100, he should be 80 years old. In my mind I speculated by asking the question, “What will the environment be like in 2100?” If this generation and future generations doesn’t work at cleaning up our environment, and work at it seriously, this planet will be uninhabitable! In other words, this great-grandson of mine won’t have the food needed to exist, nor will he have the oxygen needed to sustain life!

If you think I’m crazy and that above scenario is way off, start studying the subject.

This, as I said, is an awful, frightening, conclusion. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. We still have the opportunity to change this scenario. In order to make the necessary changes we must be willing to make a number of sacrifices. We will need to make a number of minimal adjustments.

I applauded

During this past summer, I learned about a young woman from Sweden — a 16-year-old named Greta Thunberg. Without a doubt, she has become one of the most well-known climate activists in history.

On Sept. 18 she spoke in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to CNN reporter Bill Weir, she said, “I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to science, and then act.” During her speech she described earth as a crumbling and doomed planet if governments don’t adequately respond to the mounting scientific evidence. She said, “This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is the moment in history we need to be wide awake. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. You cannot solve a crisis without treating it as one. Stop telling people that everything will be fine. As it looks now, everything won’t be fine.”

Following her lead, tens of thousands of high school student in over 800 locations participated in a Global Climate School Strike on Friday, Sept. 20 (according to USA Today). It was a continuation of the movement she founded “Fridays for Future.”

On Monday, Sept. 23, Greta Thunberg was at the United Nations. She spoke for three minutes or so. She opened with the stinging words, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

She continued, “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”

I researched

If I understand the research accomplished by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the surface temperature on Earth rose 1.71 Celsius degrees between 1880 and 2016. A study in 2017 reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters indicated that by 2026 the temperature would increase by another 1.5 Celsius degrees. If that happens, the effects could be disastrous: i.e., the temperature in the ocean waters would have significantly increased and we would face many more devastating storms.

Back in December of 2015, a group of nations agreed “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.” As of May 2019, 194 government units have signed this Paris Agreement. The four nations which have the largest greenhouse gas emissions are China, India, Russia and the United States. And, in my mind, unfortunately, the United States under President Donald Trump is threatening to leave. The U.S. is still involved in the process; however, on Nov. 4, 2019, if he hasn’t changed his mind Donald Trump can send a letter to the U.N. secretary general notifying the organization of this nation’s intent to leave.

I perplexed

Governments and corporations are not going to solve this problem. It is going to require the combined efforts of every single human being.

In this matter someone said, and I don’t know who, “Think Globally, Act Locally”.

Really, the basic question is, “What am I going to do, what are you going to do to clean up the environment?”

Seriously, we need to control the temperature in our work and living spaces: a high of 68 in the winter time and a low of 78 in the summer time. We need to replace areas in our lawns with flowers (don’t need to be mowed) and we need to mow our lawns no more than once every 10-12 days. We need to eliminate the use of all plastic products. We need to eat more fruit and vegetables and less meat. We need to recycle. We need to insist that cities plant trees along every street.

If we don’t make changes this planet might be dead in 2100!

Signing off…

“The environment will continue to deteriorate,” wrote B.F. Skinner, “until pollution practices are abandoned.”

“I’ve got five kids. I want them to have a cleaner environment” — Andrew Scheer

The Rev. R. Rudolf is a retired Lutheran clergyperson. You may contact him at R3Rudolf@yahoo.com.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

Load comments