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Volume 16, Issue 1 ~ January 3 - January 9, 2008

My Resolution for 2008

You’ll hear me preaching global warming so often you’ll think I’m Al Gore

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

–James Baldwin

Time for New Year’s resolutions, and from this corner the list is very short; one resolution.

I resolve in the upcoming year to do everything possible to make you aware of the latest in the probable coming of big-time global warming and its consequences to people, other living creatures and the environment.

Every day the news isn’t encouraging. It’s like What we don’t know won’t hurt us. Come on, let’s quit playing that game. Out of sight, out of mind isn’t the way to go. The clock keeps ticking. The longer we wait, the more damage done to our fragile ecosystem and the more time and sacrifices will be needed to correct the rape of Mother Earth.

This Christmas, the foremost greenie I know of was jolly old St. Nick, who encompassed Earth at the stroke of midnight via reindeer power; no fossil fuels needed, no carbon footprint. Moreover, his elves make things by hand; no factory emissions to impact the atmosphere. If we all left it to the guy in the red suit to stack the presents under the tree, billions of gallons of fuel would be saved by our giving up shopping for gifts that come here from China by ship, the most energy wasteful mode of transportation around.

The Coming Flood

It’s time to follow the old saint’s example.

Start by looking at the map, where you’ll see the latest thinking at the Enivronmental Protection Agency as to what Chesapeake Bay and Ocean City geography are expected to look like, possibly in the lifetimes of our children. The green is land, the red signifies what would be inundated and the blue represents land wet with a couple feet of tide. Note that the lower portion of Dorchester County would be underwater.

I only wish that George W. Bush had checked this out before he told his administration to block efforts by California and 15 other states to lessen emissions from cars and trucks. As if we can wait until 2020 for new vehicles to average 35 mpg. It’s 25 mpg today.

Assateague Island will be history, the last of it will be washed onto the mainland. Ocean City will be like Venice, and those who insure those skyscrapers will be jumping out the windows of the tallest ones. Keep in mind that the rising waters are like downhill-racing snowballs: The longer they rise, the faster they rise.

In the past 100 years, the fragile Chesapeake complex has risen six inches. Doesn’t sound like much, but the flooding is accelerating. Rising waters have a horrendous impact on the Bay. Marshes, essential as nursery grounds for fish and fowl, will change dramatically. Shorefront homeowners could build sea walls and such, but the waters will continue to rise. washing out the foundations of such barriers. In the past 27 years, residents of Bay Country have built 350 miles of barriers. Temporary solutions. Pouring sand down a rat hole.

EPA estimates that with further global warming, the Bay could rise an additional eight inches by 2025 and 13 inches by 2050 and 27 inches by 2100. That’s within the lifetime of some of our great grandchildren.

I find that many fishermen aren’t much concerned about global warming. More water, more fish is the way they look at it. I’ve got news for them. The Natural Resources Defense Council predicts that by 2030, salmon and freshwater trout will lose 17 percent of their habitat; by 2060, 34 percent. Many coldwater fish are already nearing their tolerance level.

We All Do It

How can such things happen — and continue to happen? Governments are reluctant to crack down; most solutions can impact the economy. We’ll all feel them: smaller vehicles, design changes in many consumer products, less comfort as heating and air conditioners come under closer scrutiny and so much else.

There’s much talk of big business going green; bottom line, that’s what it is: talk. Under capitalism as we see it today, what big energy-consuming business will sacrifice profits and stockholders returns to go fully green? Governments talk energy consumption, then pour money into highways and parking lots, which encourages more people to drive rather than use public transportation; pour money into bigger ships and harbor facilities as if water was the way to go.

I don’t want to be a grinch about Christmas, but have you ever seen so many elaborate lawn and energy-consuming displays? You’d think electricity was being given away. A guy who puts up the best outdoor decorations on the block uses as much or more energy as he would have saved had he switched all indoor and outdoor lighting to fluorescent bulbs before the holidays.

He’s not the only one. Creature comforts, warmth in winter, cool in summer, driving a bigger and more comfortable vehicle and driving when we can walk or bike, buying more and bigger electronics and other goods, including toys, from China with no concerns of the energy involved to get them here. And so much else. We all do it.

My Hope is the Kids

My observations indicate a ray of hope. It’s getting so that the biggest boosters to taking on global warming are our young people. For instance: When I wrote a column on trade with China, an economics teacher, Lynne Gillis at Huntingtown High School, asked her students to write me their comments. Know what? More than half of them focused on global warming.

They’re young, but the buzz today is saving this earth — as it well should be — seeing as they will be in their prime of life when the waters reach their feet. They don’t want to be sitting on an ice floe with 50 others, a few polar bears and a bunch of penguins. Enough said — for now.

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