I spend many hours working on my computer while sitting in front of sliding glass doors so as to be part of nature. We split our year, Marie and I, between Florida and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We reconcile our carbon footprint by living modestly in both locations. We don't run a lot of air conditioning since were not in Florida in the summer, and we also don't run a lot of heat in the winter in Cape Breton. That makes up for the gas and carbon emissions driving back and forth.
We are also thinking of returning to our vegetarian roots, converting our house in Florida to solar, and our next car will be an all electric. Why? Curb my guilty conscience for living in a rich society that has created a climate crisis? Set an example for our neighbors? Help solve the climate crisis? No! It simply makes economic sense.
Making Economic Sense
Vegetarianism is healthier as you do have more control as to what you put in your tummy. That is unless you live on a farm and can and have the time to produce your own meat, eggs, and milk. If you live in a suburban or urban area as most of us do, you can still grow a bit of your veggies in your back yard, on your patio, or balcony. Don't believe me? Just go on youtube and feast on human ingenuity. You may not save much, if anything, on groceries but participating in your own health outcome will save you money.
Our roof in Florida faces the sun and is ripe for collecting those free rays and converting them into free electricity. Sure you've got to buy the solar panels but once paid for the maintenance cost is minimal. Our situation is unique in that we don't use much power in the winter but not considering any excess we might generate, in the summer we would generate a lot of excess to sell back to the grid. That would make our payback of the installation very quick and make us a net exporter of electricity. Not the least bit novel as many Germans have been doing this for years and others are catching on.
Gosh, I hate car repairs. It seems that the starting price for a repair is $500. Electric cars have many less moving parts than an internal combustion engine and are just not subject to the same repair costs. I also hate buying cars so the longer I can use one the better. And last, hooking up my car to my solar panels is far superior to answering Marie's universal question as to why the car smells like gas and did I spill gas on my clothes while refueling. Did I mention the "electric fuel" would be free?
Where Are The Birds and The Bees?
Personally, I like robins. One of my fondest memories was watching the flock of robins staggering drunkenly in my front yard after feasting on fermented camphor berries.
Not a robin but you get the picture
This fall I saw only one robin in the yard in Cape Breton. I am used to seeing many more. They used to wander the yard and entertain me, poking around the yard searching for worms and grubs I presume. In the spring they are busy building their nests in the trees in our front yard, flying to and fro while under construction. With home building accomplished they settle down. And then the eggs hatch and the feeding frenzy begins.
In Florida the only birds I have seen lately are buzzards feasting on the dead and a hawk that has been around here for a few years. I do see a few crane types that feed off the critters in the water runoff retention ponds. I think my ecosystems may already be collapsing. We can drive from Cape Breton to Florida and no longer need to clean our windshield of insect splattering. No more wax buildup from the bees and other insects that would fly in the way of a moving vehicle.
This disruptions in my normality seems to be a worldwide event. I wonder just how fast our food chain can collapse? At first researchers thought it was due to pesticides and I imagine that is partially true. But there has been a dramatic loss of insects in mostly pesticide-free areas. Insects being cold blooded are not able to regulate their temperature as we mammals can and it would seem they are greatly affected by changes in temperature. Is climate change the reason?
The earth is a habitable planet because of the greenhouse gases that trap the sun's radiation as heat. Too little gas and it's too cold. Too much and it's too hot. Just the right amount and it's Goldilocks. At times in our planet's past, this balance has been disrupted mostly by geological changes. But this time it is we humans that are disrupting things by burning fossil fuels. This burning of ancient sunlight has allowed humans populations to explode to every corner of earth and now we have overdone it.
It was not unexpected as we were made aware of it as much as 200 years ago and the fire alarms stated ringing in the 1980s as emissions shot up. We humans got to work and things looked a little better for a couple of years. But the dramatic rise in emissions the last two years, as evidenced in this chart by continent, shows how serious the problem is.
Expecting China and India in Asia to curb economic growth is worse than wishful thinking and more akin to pure stupidity, so the strategy has to be how to help them reduce emissions while helping ourselves.
The best way to help India and China, and the rest of Asia as well as the rest of the emerging countries, is by purchasing solar panels and wind turbines and other renewable technologies in mass quantities so as to drive down the per unit costs even further through economies of scale. That of course will take a WWII-type government intervention.
Coal fired plants need to be shutdown immediately not ASAP. And this is just the initial phase of tackling the climate problem. I would actually go so far as to take a portion of our hugely excessive US military budget and subsidize India's and Pakistan's installations directly for how else better to fight wars than to prevent them.
Money Makes The World Go Around
The question always comes up. So how do we pay for it? It really isn't rocket science. Federal government budgets and economics are different from states, provinces, regions, or personal budgets.
Central governments have the means to simply print the money. The worst that will happen is some inflation. And that comes more from anticipation than actually too much money.
So what's it gonna be? A bit of inflation or catastrophic storms, torrential rainstorms, severe droughts, raging wildfires, unwanted migration and the rise of authoritarian leaders.
And It’s One, Two, Three, What Are We Fighting For?
What's the first step? Progress was made in the rebuke of the Republican party in the 2016 election and other right-wing emerging leaders around the world. But there were failures.
And for the United States? Death of the Republican party and the removal from the Senate in 2020 of Mitch McConnell, who is now running interference for Trump. I know that seems arrogant to call the US the key, but its leadership may very well make the difference in the global war on warming. Without the USA's aggressive participation eliminating carbon emissions and even reversing the concentrations built in the world, the turnaround may fail.
And the consequences of failure? We don't even want to go there.
About the Author
Robert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.
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In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
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