Global warming calls for community action

“We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change, we don’t debate or dispute this,” said Exxon Mobil to the British Royal Society on Sept. 20.
Exxon’s shifting of their environmental position may have more to do with the large cracks in the polar ice cap captured by satellite photos. Additionally, to admit carbon emissions are a factor is to admit that human activity is a factor.
This past summer, according to The Christian Science Monitor, warmer waters in the Artic forced a number of Artic seals to the south shores of Spain, far from Greenland. The warmer waters in Spain also resulted in an overpopulation of jellyfish which caused the closings of their beaches.
“To say that global warming is not an issue is pretty much a lie,” said Emily Place, a senior Spanish major.
In the United States, fighting climate change has been relegated to the states because of the void of federal guidelines. California, the world’s twelfth largest source of carbon emissions, became the first state to take a stand with the California Greenhouse Gas Bill.
The bill calls for a reduction of California greenhouse emissions to the year 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
“I’m absolutely floored by the recklessness with which businesses go about their business, but I understand their thinking,” said Jame “Jamestown” Cliffe, a fifth year philosophy major. “Living in harmony is very difficult. Being an honest and conscientious business person takes a lot of courage.”
James “Kass” James, a senior, agrees. “It’s all to do with balancing humanity and nature.”
“Right now the entire planet is out of balance,” said Bob Correll, leading climate change expert, to CBS NEWS. Based on the evidence that 98 percent of the world’s mountain glaciers are melting, he predicts that in 100 years, sea levels will raise three feet higher, swamping costal plains worldwide.
James thinks that self-centeredness is at the root of exploiting natural resources. “Greed is the overwhelming factor behind the destructiveness of the earth,” he said.
Cliffe thinks that laziness, or not taking the time to care, is the problem. “And laziness will kill Democracy, you can quote me on that,” said Cliffe.
Eva Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Psychology, emphasized that our system needs change, not just individual actions. “We have a tendency to blame the individual,” she said. “It isn’t solely to the individual that we look for change, but the larger culture as well.”
California took a leap ahead of the federal government. As Schwarzenegger told the media, “I wanted to set an example for other states and nations to follow as the fight against climate change continues.”
The United States, the number one emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, responded on Sept. 20 as well. The Bush Administration allocated $3 billion for research into new technologies.
“The key is to understand the real cost to the environment when pricing gassing,” said Bob Williams, Professor of Economics. “When gas price is low, like now, that’s bad for the environment. When the gas price is high, that’s good.”
Limiting carbon emissions through pricing which reflects the real cost to the environment, or through adding a carbon tax on greenhouse gases, are ways to reduce emissions according to Williams. Another method proposed by Al Gore, according to The New York Times, involves replacing payroll taxes with taxes on pollution, including carbon dioxide.
The new Bush administration climate change program sets goals for capturing carbon dioxide before it’s released. However, emission caps or controls have not been set.
More effective national legislation is needed, but the examples of individuals who model environmentally responsible choices are important, according to Max Carter, Director of Campus Ministries, who said, “Think globally, and act locally.”
“We all live day to day in the choices we make,” said Lawrence. “There are things we can do to structure our environment to assure we are living our values.”
Joshua Shelton, a senior, lives in The Pines dormitory and says he and his housemates make day to day choices that reflect their beliefts.
“We use less electricity, lights are out unless you are using them. We don’t use air-conditioning unless the weather is really extreme,” said Shelton. “The water which is used for washing our hands is saved in a bucket and used to flush the commode. We also have rain barrels for recycling water for the garden.”
These small steps of The Pines are important transitional steps viewed within the big economic picture described by Williams.
“Public transportation, even statewide, is the answer. Carpool, commute to work, walk, ride a bicycle,” said Place.
Rod Dreher, a green Christian conservative, told USA TODAY, “The responsibility for the environment lies with open-minded and imaginative folks from both the liberal and conservative camps who care more about conserving the natural world and the human civilization dependent on it than they do about protecting their political purity and fundraising base.