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Global Warnings

By Dr. Molly Barrow

How often do you heed warnings? Who was listening when experts suggested that Japanese/ American relationships were so bad that an attack was eminent? Who paid attention when experts said Germany might regroup and strengthen for WW2? Were you the first in line to get the polio shot? When did you finally accept Nixon should resign? Did General Shinseki and Powell seem absurd when they warned over four years ago that America would need several thousand soldiers to deal with ethnic tensions, post-hostility control of geography and to ensure that people have water and food or we would fail to secure Iraq? Have you paid off your credit cards and cut them in half yet? Have you noticed fixing errors later, rather than sooner, is really expensive?

How do you react to more personal warnings? Do you argue that the experts don’t know what they are talking about? Have you worn a condom every time you had sex since the early eighties or do you bet your life that your partner is faithful or that HIV infection only happens to other people? Do you order an organic vegetable salad for lunch like your doctor suggests or are you still eating only cows and potatoes in search of a cardiac? Do you heed expert Dr. Blane Crandall, Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, who informed the United States Senate that menopausal women benefit from prescribed bio-identical hormones because the danger of illness and mortality is reduced? "Women on hormones not only improve their bone health but their whole body benefits... a women's memory, heart, colon, skin, sexual organs and bladder all benefits from continued use of HRT". Or do you believe what an article in the newspaper said about horse urine hormones? Are you exercising every other day for thirty minute hard enough that you can hardly chat? Or do you take a short stroll with the pooch and your paunch? Do you look for sympathy because your organs are falling apart after decades of mistreatment? Doesn’t it make sense to take care of your health today the way experts suggest rather than pay for doctors and surgeries later? Would these same principles hold true for Mama Earth?

Voices everywhere are shouting an insistent warning about the whole Planet. A report from the Pentagon in 2004 urged that global warming be raised beyond a scientific debate to a National security concern, and warned us about rapid climate change, the possibility of global famine and wars over shrinking resources, like clean water. “In the course of the century, water supplies stored in glaciers and snow cover are projected to decline, reducing water availability in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges, where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives” (IPCC, 2007). Imagine two billion thirsty and desperate people!

This outcry is not the same as a shaming nudge to clean up your own trash and recycle. No, this is a major hand wringing from all areas of science, an urgent consensus from experts around the world that we must act immediately. As the biggest of polluters, America is receiving strong pressure to change from around the world. Do you listen, really listen, to experts and not to people with political agendas or advertising and media connections? Americans do take a while

to process and form an opinion. We are busy doing important things like soccer, business meetings and fund raising. Our government moves at a snails pace, and our heartland moves even more slowly. Yet, the buzz about global warming is heating up. Just what is all the noise about?

Our atmosphere is holding on to too much CO2, a waste product that comes from our dirty little habits like coal and oil burning. About 75% of the annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is due to the burning of fossil fuels. The remaining 25% happens when forests are converted to rangelands, rangelands to agriculture, and agriculture to urban areas, which have the effect of reducing the net uptake of carbon dioxide. Temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 C this century which is a much more rapid rate of warming than during the 20th century. Heat holding CO2 is bad news but the really uncomfortable part is that severe consequences are happening faster than expected. Factual evidence before our eyes like drowning polar bears and penguins may break our hearts, but still not make us change our light bulbs.

In its most recent (2007) report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that surface temperatures could rise up to 10.4 degrees F over this century, and sea levels could rise nearly six meters. Since scientists underreported or missed the current effects in previous scientific papers, can we assume the actual facts are much worse than reported. If we list the annual death causes to humans or species in a chart, terrorism is way at the bottom and global warming is way at the top. That is the strange disconnect. The tunnel vision politicians spend our tax money like a college girl with Daddy’s credit card and sweep more important issues under the rug for the next generation to solve. If only the people who voted for bad decisions were the only ones to suffer, but never have so many lives been controlled by so few individuals. When global mistakes are made or problems ignored, we all suffer and so will our grandchildren. Yet, we have been warned.

Complacent and egocentric Americans will eventually change light bulbs, buy fuel-efficient vehicles and bury coal emissions. The day will happen when American law says that we must or incur punishment with stiff fines, and probably not one day before then. When the law requires you to replace old refrigerators, furnaces, and boilers with efficient Energy Star models reducing energy consumption by almost two-thirds, then you will. A “carbon tax” (a tax which reflects the real cost of carbon pollution cleanup) will force change because there are expensive penalties to avoid. Governments can reward every citizen who installs solar, wind, along with other smart energy and clean world action by giving substantial tax relief. City governments can give homeowners who plant a shade tree a hefty tax break. The tasks sound easy enough. Is any of this as bad as standing in line with your shoes off every time you fly?

Americans can adapt, we are just so slow and lazy about it. However, a true positive is that nearly every American is a law abiding citizen. We follow the rule of law. Grumble you may, but turn these recommendations of world experts into American law. Then, withhold American dollars to anyone or any country who does not comply. Bingo, cooler Earth!

Tell your grandchildren that you accept personal adult responsibility and that you will change your home and office light bulbs this weekend. Tell them you are listening to the experts. Protect your loved ones and others from an unnecessary Katrina or Tsunami, drought, species extinction or war? Proactively ensure that the beachfront property you promised to leave them remains right where it is today-above the shore.

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Molly Barrow.

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