Roger Marolt: Paying now or paying later — either way it’s gonna hurt
We are all going to die. The Earth will not last forever. There are a couple of aspirins for the dull ache of global warming. Perhaps we need an icepack on inflamed worries, too.
Something is going to get us, but I doubt it will be climate change. As they say, it is the bus you don’t see that hits you.
I believe the world’s natural design will allow it to clean itself up, if we don’t. While I don’t think it will be a big deal for the planet to fix itself, nor believe it will even take a very long time in terms of its lifetime, that doesn’t mean I don’t think the process will have a profound effect. I picture it being pretty devastating, actually.
At some point, maybe it is already happening, this sphere in the universe will undertake a cleanse. It will be like a weekend at the spa for it. We will be like the blockage in its large intestine that will be forcefully expunged. It will feel great again. As for us? Well, you know what happens to stored up toxins in a cleanse, right?
Here’s the thing, though, the entire human population will not get wiped out. This celestial body will start eliminating us and our byproducts until it can once again sustain itself. Gone will be large chunks of cities, economies, automobiles, factories, plants and animal species, glaciers, landscapes and skiing. I added that last one for the folks at POW. It’s going to be horrifically painful, but there will be survivors.
The good news is that this is not necessarily our destiny. The point, however, is that fixing this problem of global warming will involve a lot of real suffering. Call it “sacrifice” if that makes you feel any better, but the bottom line is that this is going to hurt, quite a bit, whether we solve this nature’s way or on our own.
This is only my opinion which, if valued on a per-word basis, is not worth very much, but banning plastic bags and recycling beer cans is not going to get the job done. What is actually more than opinion, however, is the data showing we are not making any progress in reversing the planet’s production of greenhouse gases. We have just about doubled our annual contribution to the cause of planetary overheating since 1980 and are not slowing down.
There is an annoying thing that history suggests about human nature: We will do what we will, but rarely what we can. The proof is that we have invented a name for the few who actually do all that they can for a cause. We call them “heroes.” Needless to say, their value is more than a dime a dozen.
Maybe part of our problem in making progress in this global warming thing is that we don’t really believe in the issue’s severity. If we felt serious jeopardy, we would likely be making bigger sacrifices.
Remember Aaron Ralston? He was the young adventurer who lived in Aspen for a time. On a solo foray into the deserts of Utah, he was bouldering and got his arm stuck behind a giant rock. He could not move his arm or the rock. It was an imminent threat. He tried everything to free himself. Finally, convinced of the inevitability of his own extinction, he cut off his own arm with a pocket knife to save his life. The equivalent of this in terms of saving Earth from overheating is not catching the bus to work two days a week.
If our planet’s arm is wedged in by a rock now, we haven’t so much as frozen a wart off its middle finger. Aspen’s own limbs are tanned and toned, helping us to bend over backward for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. We’re doing backflips for promotions like the X Games. A handstand, anyone?
I think the problem of not recognizing global warming in fatalistic terms at a time definite in the near future is that we may, even if subconsciously, see it as somebody else’s problem. It’s hard to visualize the great grandkids suffering from this. It’s easy to guess that maybe only half the world will eventually feel the fatal effects of it, and the likelihood of it being us, we can convince ourselves, is probably pretty slim — at worst a 50/50 proposition, or better yet, I’ll be dead by then.
Doing the difficult things now to possibly reverse global warming may be a bit like getting a flu shot in the fall. The weather is nice and you feel you will never get sick. A flu shot isn’t always effective, anyway. And who has the time to go and get one? Then the depth of winter hits and suddenly there are born many new flu shot advocates lying delirious in sweat-soaked sheets, wracked with body aches, wondering if the end is near.
Roger Marolt has felt the aches and pains of the flu. Email at email@example.com.
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Certainly there is no replacing the voice Paul Andersen brought to the Times’ op-ed pages. For the next year, though, we’re going to use the Monday spot to bring some of the voices of our newsroom to these pages.