Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
“Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier.”
A late November CBC article, “Greenland glacier melting 5 times faster than in 1990s,” began: “Scientists have definitive new evidence that shows all but one of the world's major ice sheets are shrinking. The study … marks the first time scientists have come up with a way to measure the changing size of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica that they can all agree on.”
But how much does the “average person” know about glaciers? How often do we even consider them?
Defined as "a moving body of ice that forms on land from the accumulation and compaction of snow," a glacier "flows downslope or outward due to gravity and the pressure of its own weight."
Glaciers have shaped the topography we call home. As explained here: "Glaciers bear tremendous weight, crushing the land beneath them as they slowly flow downhill. They carve out pathways known as glacial valleys." These and many other glacial features remain thousands or millions of years after their initial formation.
Also, it's kinda important to remember that ice is frozen water.
If, for example, Greenland's massive ice sheet were to fully melt (an increasingly likely scenario), here’s how Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona in Tucson, explains the outcome: "The consequences would be catastrophic."
Of course, climate change deniers are always ready to dispute all this, e.g. as an obscure radio host named Rush Limbaugh once declared:
"Even if polar ice caps melted, there would be no rise in ocean levels. After all, if you have a glass of water with ice cubes in it, as the ice melts, it simply turns to liquid and the water level in the glass remains the same."
He sure is convincing, huh? You know, in an appealingly simplistic kind of way.
Reality: Since the majority of the world's ice is actually not in water but on land (mostly in Antarctica), when glaciers and ice caps/sheets melt, the sea level definitely rises. Big time.
But, dig this: Even if global warming were a hoax and humans played no role in climate change, it wouldn't at all change the primary mission of dark green activists across the globe: stopping ecocide.
Climate change, of course, connects to many of the other pressing environmental problems but our shared eco-system would be in serious peril even if the climate deniers miraculously turned out to be correct.
Among many other things, we'd still have to deal with: nuclear waste, factory farming, pesticides, deforestation, overfishing, GMOs, sprawl, the rising extinction rate, and so many more clear and present threats to our landbase. Without even factoring in climate change, the state of eco-urgency is: "now or never."
Mic Check: There's way too much crucial work to be done for us to waste time arguing with disingenuous deniers.
Now or Never
Despite documented realities like rapidly melting ice sheets, much of the industrial world is still embracing a car-based culture and a meat-based diet. It appears glaciers being impacted by human-created climate change aren’t a major priority.
Even many of scientists who are sounding the most recent warning are acting as if time is on our side. Here’s another excerpt from the article mentioned above:
“The data from this new study will also be included in the next major report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that will be published in 2014. Ultimately the scientists are hoping these measurements will help them better understand how the ice sheets are being affected by climate change. But they say they still need to do a lot more research into the complicated dynamic between the melting glaciers at opposite ends of the world and rising sea levels before they can start to predict what might happen in the future.”
2014? A lot more research? WTF?
Unless we wanna' be the generation that allowed the glaciers to vanish (and had to navigate the consequences), we need drastic change and we need it now.
Yet again, reality is staring us in the face: It’s. Up. To. Us.
I'd like to propose a first step in the effort to transcend the (alleged) debate on climate change. I call it the "Seat Belt Supposition" and it goes a little something like this:
While some of us fasten our seat belts to avoid getting a ticket, many more now do so as a safety measure. We don't wait until we see another vehicle spinning out of control to snap the seat belt into place. We fasten it upon entering a car. It can sometimes be a little uncomfortable to wear, but if we arrive at our destination without having needed that seat belt, we typically don't regret using it.
By applying this same mentality to climate change -- to be unconcerned whether or not the human role in global warming is accurate or overstated -- we'd be living with a prudent vision for the present and our shared future. The only players with a vested interest in the homicidal/suicidal status quo are those who earn short-term profits off of our conspicuous consumption… and our indifference.
So why not alter our lifestyle -- and our activist tactics -- as if our very existence were hanging in the balance? To accept this challenge not only has the potential to downsize the global damage but would also require us to overcome corporate propaganda -- a compelling step of its own.
Howard Zinn sez: "The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
There is no down side to living our lives as if we're at the environmental point of no return -- and as if we humans are almost entirely to blame. In doing so, our culture could become a little less violent, daily life might grow a touch simpler, the eco-system would get at least a temporary reprieve, and corporate profits will plummet precipitously.
Does anyone have a problem with all that?
Note: To continue conversations like this, come see Mickey Z. in person on Jan. 12 in NYC for Occupy the Climate: Hurricane Sandy, Eco-Activism, & the Vegan Option.
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