Monday, March 30, 2009

Global Warming Debate - Both Informative and Entertaining

Is Global Warming a Crisis?

This was the title of the debate last Thursday night between Jack Chism and Daryl Iler, as they met in the upper union with faculty, students, and community members.

I attended this match, and thought both parties presented their ideals well.

Dr. Iler stated that, yes, climate change is real and that, yes, we are partly causing this change. He cited the findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as a core group of 1300 scientists from 100 nations, that have concluded that this is true. Also, NASA, has said that there is evidence of a warming trend and that humans are part of the source of this trend. Dr. Iler went on to state that these are reputable scientists, and that they have no agenda other than finding out the facts. He said that it is time to take action to slow down our carbon emissions. Also, Dr. Iler commented that even if the situation weren't as bad as we first thought, it is a "win win situation" in that by taking action we will gain cleaner air quality, find new, renewable energy sources and thereby lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. Chism questioned the validity of these scientific findings, as well as the IPCC Summary report. He stated that there were dissenters in the ranks and that some scientists left the panel because of these disagreements. He asked the questions: Is there climate change? If there is climate change, can we stop it?, and what would be the cost? His final analysis went something like this: there is no evidence that the climate change we are seeing isn't more than just cyclical. If there were, could we stop it without loss of life style, damage to our way of living and life? If we couldn't stop it period, or without such danger to ourselves and our lives, then why would we do anything? Perhaps, he even purported, our very taking action might do something damaging to the planet that was unintended. Basically, there would be large costs to us, with tiny benefits. He also brought up that there have been alarmists for centuries, but that the causes change with the times. Most of these causes want to limit us in some way. Climate change is to him, just one more of these alarmist ideals that people bring up to limit our way of life that is unnecessary and not supported by scientific fact.

As you can imagine, this debate brings out the emotions in all of us, no matter on what side you land. I don't think it's any secret what side I embrace and believe to be true. After all, this is a "green" site. I tried to listen as openly as I could with my biases, but still think that the evidence of the scientific community is real and clear and beyond the debating point. Climate change is real and we are partly responsible for this change.

Even if Mr. Chism were right though, I still believe there is a reason to change even if it doesn't produce the amount of change we need to fix anything. We act anyway, because it is not only the planet that changes with our actions. We are changed by our actions. It does matter if we throw away our trash on the ground and do not pick it up. It eats at our soul and leads to a sad state of affairs where nothing is worth anything. If we believe that this planet is created by God and glorifies God in it's very being, and that we are caretakers of this planet, then we need to care for it, despite the effects of our actions' increasing or decreasing carbon dioxide.

I also chafed at this idea that we all must not be bothered by anything that might cut into our accustomed way of life. There is nothing wrong with the benefits we have here in the US, clean clothes, food, a roof over our head. However, somewhere along the way we have crossed over into a selfish existence, one of greed and excess, and dominance. There are other people sharing this planet with us. We do not need to use all the resources just for us, so that we can live in the way that we are accustomed to living. Mr. Chism said that the only way of helping people in extreme poverty over seas is by bringing in industry and business, which also means simple fuels that are cheap, like coal. He said that this, above any NFPs or any charity giving, would be the only way to lift people out of poverty. There would be no need for concern over this use of cheap coal if you didn't believe that climate change were real or that we were causing it.

I sat and listened to all of this, knowing that it was wrong, but not being able to articulate or even to put my finger on what was so wrong about this idea of the poor needing to become like the other, richer, industrialized nations before they succeed. Aren't we finding ourselves today in a big mess because of our current life style? Things need to change here as well as in places like Africa and India, and the right change isn't necessarily them becoming more like us. What if we thought outside the box? What if the US were willing to cut back a bit and not be so consumeristic? What if we didn't take up all the resources in the world just for our cows or our grains? I happen to believe that there is enough on this one planet for all of us, if we would just share and just slow down, and not be so stinking greedy.

Cutting back on life style and energy use does not have to mean automatic dip in life style, or life satisfaction, that leads to "grinding poverty" as Mr. Chism stated. We still have soooooooo much more than so many, even if we didn't opt to build a McMansion, or we chose not to have a bathroom for every member of our family, or a car for every member of our family for that matter. What if we rode our bikes more and walked? Would that cut into my happiness or your happiness? Perhaps our current economic times might shake us up a bit and help us to re-prioritize our lives.

I don't know...there is so much to this issue that keeps going on and on and splitting off into other issues... like a great big web...

I don't know what it is you believe. I would suggest praying about it, and being aware of how it makes you feel when you throw away something you know can be reused. Does it feel wasteful? Then it probably is. How do you feel when you leave your car idling for 1/2 hour just so you can be a little bit more warm or comfortable on that cold winter's day. Does it maybe feel like your spewing toxins into the air? Maybe you are and maybe it's OK to be a little cold in the winter. After all, it is winter. Maybe it's a simplistic view, but the truth is sometimes just there despite all the facts for or against something. What is God telling you about your lifestyle. That's what I would listen to, and that's what I'm trying to listen to myself.

If you are interested in getting more facts about the findings of the IPCC, you can go to this site for their FULL report. Good luck.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hang Tough for What you Believe!

OK Greenville friends and residence. This has been a very bleak last month on the recycling front for our fair city. Some of you may be asking, "What is going on?!" or "What just happened?" I know. I KNOW!! Harsh right?

First, all the Green Fiber bins have been removed from everywhere, and second, there is chaos down at the tracks. George and I have a new word after our vacation, and that is, boondoggle. I'm going to use it here, and just say that what we have going on here is a bit of a boondoggle.

Perhaps we should just change our perspectives and view this as growing pains. I'm not exactly sure of what is going on with the Doty bins, because they are in various stages every time I go to recycle. I do know this: Doty was planning on taking the new bin back to it's manufacturing birth place to get it repainted. I'm sure you have noticed all the paint peeling off. If you are like me, you would cry out, "please, please don't take our shiny new bin away, the one with the opening doors!" However, it was not shiny, it was peely. Also, it is still under warranty, so we can all appreciate that Doty Sanitation wants to get it fixed while they still can. Now, of course, with just one bin again, it is filling up fast and therefore, has to be emptied. That is why some times you go down there, and nothing is there. Fear not, the old trusty "hole" bin will be back, and eventually our new one will be back as well.

Growing Pains
Let's focus on some good things for a second. One, more people are recycling. That is very clear in the volume of recyclables in BOTH bins. Hurray for that, right? Also, when the second bin is back and brand spanking, shiny new, the old bin will PROBABLY be used for cardboard. That is a move forward.

Now for the lecture. I know that it is hard to find places to recycle when you live in Greenville, IL, USA. Let's rejoice in the fact that we can recycle most things. A lot of communities here in Bond County don't have anything at all, and have to haul all of their stuff here, or some other place. Of course we want to continue to grow and improve and make things easier, but for now I'm imploring you to hang tough. So you have to drive to Mulberry Grove for a while to take your paper and cardboard there. You can do it! At least there is a spot that we can do that for now, and we all make that trip sometime to go to Wal-Mart, or Aldi's, or to eat out. Don't let this set-back take your sights off the goal. The earth is worth saving and caring for and deserves better than our thoughtless trashing.

I went to the tracks yesterday with my three bags of recyclables, and yes, it was a pain to get them loaded with all the other errands I had to do, while being accompanied by a "helper" that is not quite 5 years old. I drove to the spot, and there were no bins. I cringed inside and immediately felt inconvenienced. But then I was quickly moved to anger when I saw the load and the pile of recycling sitting there, blowing in the wind - recycling that was now trash. At that moment a car drove up and an older couple were inside. The woman got out and proceeded to open the back door. Now I was setting there trying to take a picture of the state of things, and decided to drive on up and say hello.

I informed the woman that if she left her stuff there on the ground, that it would indeed be thrown away. She asked, "Won't the bin be back?" I informed her that it would, but that all the stuff on the ground would not be loaded into the bin but that I knew for an absolute fact it would be thrown out in the garbage. She paused with her hand on the door, and I could see she wanted to do it anyway. I did not budge, I did not move my vehicle, and I sat looking at her, and she at me. After about 10 seconds, she very reluctantly got into the passenger side and they slowly drove away. I sat there, parked for a while, just amazed at this incident. I was convinced by their rate of speed, that they would just circle around and dump their stuff when I was gone. And here is the kicker: this couple were not alone. By the size of "trash" pile sitting there, many more people had made the same exact decision.

What has happened to us? When has convenience taken over our ideals? This was a person who took the trouble of saving her stuff from the trash, and loading it up, and driving all they way to the tracks, because I assume she believes in recycling. But when met with a road block, she caved and said to herself, "Oh well, it's trash, but I want it out of my car." So rather than take it back home, unload and wait for another day, it's just easier to pitch the stuff. Why do it in the first place if at the slightest problem you give up? I don't get it. I wonder what it is this woman actually believes in, or what is compelling her to act, but then cave?

Have we become a society of softies that can not be bothered, can not feel pain, can not wait for more than two seconds for anything, and can not stand strong for what we believe in? I hope not. I have to believe that this isn't true.

Please continue to recycle despite the setbacks of our community recycling program. I know it's hard, it's hard for me as well. But I believe in tending to this planet that God has given us. I believe we live on holy ground. Please hang tough, be inconvenienced, but don't give up, don't give in, and don't throw away your recyclables in the trash. It will get better, it already has. There are more of us now than even last year, who are standing up and saying that this matters. Hang tough!!
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