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March 8 – So often I turn to Alex Smith’s Radio Ecoshock Show for inspiration.
Alex frequently interviews scientists, authors, and activists in order to stay abreast of the latest thinking with regard to global warming-related matters. To call one particular recent program “inspiring” would simply be a lie, however. As scientists continue to raise their voices louder and louder in a chorus of concern, that alarm makes itself more and more a part of each of Smith’s programs. Smith himself seems to have entered a new stage in his own thinking, as a result. For those of use who have, for so long, known that this was a problem in need of immediate attention, the lack thereof, in the face of the now sober, sad reality, becomes ever more surreal. We dutifully report the latest thinking, and it is like shouting into the wind. Our world no longer teeters on the precipice. It would seem it has gone over the side.

I base this disturbing conclusion on Smith’s February 25 program, “On the Road to Mass Extinction”. In it, Smith talks to four scientists, each having reached the same conclusion: unless carbon emissions plummet to zero immediately, we face environmental cataclysm. My reaction to such a statement would normally have been, how can this be? For some time now, we have viewed 400 co2 (carbon dioxide) parts per million (ppm) as the tipping point, the point at which terrible things begin to happen. Earth’s atmosphere currently harbors 388 co2 ppm. Yes, too close for comfort, for sure. But not 400. Why the need, then, for such draconian action?

According to these four gentlemen, there are two overwhelming facts making themselves known and felt: first, the oceans are dying; second, methane tips the balance.

Before I go on, though, there’s something else which needs saying. As I sit before my computer, southwest Ohio is enjoying a superb, early spring day. While news of yet another earthquake, this one off the coast of Sumatra, causes many to puzzle over the high number of recent, severe quakes, the birds continue to sing, and the daffodils make ready to jump up out of the ground. Though many fail to realize it, we live in the Garden of Eden. Our world is too beautiful to be believed. We owe it to ourselves and our Creator to live every moment as fully and as wisely as possible. We cannot permit ourselves to think in terms of “it’s too late, there’s nothing we can do.” If this planet of ours is not worth a lifetime of struggle, then nothing is. In order to struggle effectively, we would do well to arm ourselves with the facts.

Because dead zones continue to expand, because the oceans are warming, because many marine creatures have been overfished, because 20 percent of corals worldwide have died, because of increased acidification, the oceans are, indeed, slowly dying. This means that the vast majority of extinctions that take place over the course of this century will occur among sea flora and fauna. Creatures on the land will die, too. But they are not as abundant as those that populate our oceans. Once temperatures at the equator and the poles draw closer to each other, winds and currents will die down, too. This will mean that the distribution of oxygen throughout the oceans will become more and more uneven. This will also mean the end of mild winters in Europe, which occur courtesy of the Gulf Stream – we’re seeing a good deal of that, already.

Simultaneously, we are learning about the increased amount of methane in the atmosphere. Horribly, methane is 20 times as toxic to humans as carbon dioxide. As millions of burping, farting cows and pigs pollute a planet never meant to support them in such huge numbers, as permafrost continues to melt, letting loose the methane stored within it, scientists are at last measuring how much methane has been poured into the air we breathe. It turns out that, when converted to a level expressed as co2 ppm – in other words, the amount of methane in the air converted to units of co2 in the air - the Earth now has 460 co2 ppm in its atmosphere.

Radical government action is required immediately. Please write to the President.

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