Thursday, June 25, 2009

One of those days ....

Even though it was a glorious morning, beautiful sunrise, chickadees, wrens and cardinals singing, a heavy dew covering the grass, I should have stayed in bed. Yesterday a citizen reported, and it was confirmed, that zebra mussels are present in the Alexandria Chain of Lakes. This is a chain of some 20 lakes that form the economic backbone of the area. While I'm not at all surprised at their presence, I am deeply disappointed. They will dramatically change the entire ecology of the system (although from a science standpoint it will be interesting to watch that change). The other big news that came across my desk is a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding the impacts of climate change on Minnesota. They are now reporting that average summer temperatures in Minnesota will climb some 12 degrees and we will experience over 70 days/year of temperatures that exceed 90 degrees. This is by far a more dire prediction than anything I've seen before. We've been preparing for a 4 to 5 degree increase in temperature and this recent prognostication is two to three times greater than that. Our summers will be more like Arkansas and eastern Kansas while our winters are predicted to be more like central Illinois and northern Missouri. So, hotter, more humid and drier summers and humid winters with little snow and more frequent ice storms.
While we see "go green" all around us these days, we're still fighting a loosing battle. And to be honest it isn't so much a battle against the nay-sayer's as it is against apathy. Sure there are climate change skeptics and doubters, but in reality they are a very vocal minority. The real danger is a large-scale apathetic view towards the environment. When people lack concern for the environment it not only affects the natural world but it affects people as well. Climate change isn't going to affect those of us who can afford to live in air conditioned homes and drive air conditioned cars nearly as much as it will those who can't. It won't affect those of us with health care who can afford to be treated for heat-related conditions as much as it will those who can't afford such treatment. Environmental problems are not only ecological problems they are people problems.
Compounding these issues is a lack of foresight. In today's, "I want it and I want it now" world, we lack leadership (yes, even the current administration seems to be unable to look more than 4 years down the road) that will enable us to seek long-term solutions to long-term problems. People argue against energy taxes because they will hurt today's economic recovery or their bottom line, yet what they seemingly don't grasp (and I find it hard to believe that they are really that stupid) is that if we don't tax and/or reduce our consumption of energy there won't be any energy to use! Their bottom line will be meaningless! Politicians seem to want to make these issues more complex than they are. The real bottom line is this: we need to reduce our consumption of energy, particularly of fossil fuels. Period. It isn't a complex issue. Yet is one that at times makes me wish I would have just stayed in bed.

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