Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going Green: The Global Warming Debate?

**warning: this post contains little about gardening, and some strong opinions on my part.**

Well, it was my understanding that the global warming debate was decided. Over. Finished. I thought, and correct me if I'm wrong, that climate change scientists have pretty solid and concrete proof that human activity causes climate change. What I don't understand then is why there are so many letters to the editors in my crazy little town about how "they don't believe in environmentalism" or how they think that this extremely long, cold winter we just experienced is proof that global warming doesn't exist, and it's simply over-zealous environmentalists trying to find a way to shut down industry. IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY - uneducated, ignorant people making blanket belief statements with no knowledge of the facts - and then the paper publishes their letters.

In case you don't want to read it, he basically blames the Pine Beetle epidemic on environmentalists refusing to let the government and industry turn a provincial park into a clear cut/slash and burn. I don't post my comments on the newspaper's website because it just invites insults from those who have a different point of view - but I can't keep quite about this. Anyways if you know very little of the Pine Beetle epidemic in Northern BC you can look up the history online, or check out the Manic Gardener's Blog (I didn't know Montana had a pine beetle problem), but basically every Pine tree in BC is dead or going to be dead within 5 years. It is really hard to imagine unless you have seen the pictures of landscapes that are red in every direction you look.

But Pine Beetle isn't new. It has been around for hundreds of years, and the population never got out of control. A cold winter would hit and kill them back to reasonable numbers. So in the 80's and early 90's when the Pine Beetle attacked Tweedsmuir Provincial Park everyone thought that the problem would manage itself like it always had. I don't think anyone envisioned the ending up where we are now. But, blaming the problem on environmentalists seems foolish. Of course people protested the idea of logging a park - it was a protected area. No one predicted this devastation, and it seems unfair now to start playing the blame game.
But getting back to what is so shocking about what I keep reading in the newspaper. So many people agree with these sentiments, and really think that "green" is just a buzzword, a fashion, or a bandwagon that the unwashed masses have jumped on because it makes them feel good about the choices they are making.
So, my question is, who really is the one being deceived? Those who refuse to acknowlege the green debate and environmental issues, or those of us who have and are now making changes and paying more money to live green because somehow we've been convinced of its importance. Or maybe to some extent, are we all being deceived?


Gil said...

Good article, never knew much about Pine Beetles and/or the epidemic.

Regarding Going Green: The Global Warming Debate. All my life I was one of those wasteful people, you know the type, the ones that looked at the environmentalist and what we called the "hippie type" as nuts. But this Global Warming thing has really opened up my eyes to a lot of things. Especially since my two little girls love animals so much and informed me that Polar Bears will probably be extinct by the end of this decade. That is sad, very sad. It means that my grandchildren will know about polar bears the way I know about dinosaurs; from books and/or visits to museums.

Yes there are still many people that do not believe that Global Warming is real. But the test to prove to yourself that what you believe, what you feel in your gut is true, comes when you reflect on how the seasons were when you were growing up. Where the summers hot and the winters cold? Did it rain, for the most part, in April and did the flowers bloom in May? I know when I was growing up the weather was not mixed up like it is today. There was no Tsunami, followed by Katrina, followed by other massive Hurricanes and Tornadoes like there are today. Sure there were climate changes - but that was normal. Yes there was a hurricane season and a tornado season. But then they passed. We'd have hot summers days but now unbearable, scorching days. And we'd actually have snow in the winters. Yes I do remember the blizzard of 1968, it was great for me it was a snow day, no school. But in 1994 the February my daughter was born we experienced 5 blizzards in a row. It was the worst winter that I can remember in my entire life. It is almost June and the weather is still cold here in Virginia. In fact last weekend we there was a horrible Tornado in one of the City's here in Virginia cost some people there life and there was plenty of property damage. Thing is that City is not known for Tornadoes.

themanicgardener said...

Nice post, Beanne! I love the warnings at the top--I've used that tactic too.

Yes, we have a pine-beetle problem here in Montana, and in Colorado as well, but nothing like what you're seeing in B.C. Still, when we go hiking or X-country skiing, we see brown trees, and the foothills no longer look fully green, and the bears come into town more often, searching for food they used to find in the forests.

Gil, I think it's great you're open-minded enough to change your opinions!

About that infuriating article on pgcitizen, Breanne--the guy's attitude makes steam come out my ears. But he's partly right about biofuels not being as great as they were originally touted as being, I think. I've heard varying opinions about how much they're to blame for current food crises world-wide. I suspect environmentalists are taking the hit here where the real culprits are firstly our old friend (?) global warming and the way it's disrupted weather patterns, and secondly, steeply rising oil prices.

I'm struggling to keep an open mind on the argument for using DDT to fight malaria. I first heard it from a friend I respect, someone who supports environmental protection but who has also been to Africa and seen conditions there.

I worry about how polarized we are becoming about environmentalism--to the point where even saying that I'm keeping an open mind about the use of DDT to help prevent malaria makes me nervous, because I know many people will be instantly incensed, even if they know no more about the issue than I do.

Northern Shade said...

The denial that some people have about the human causes of global warming is unfathomable. The amount of scientific evidence is overwhelming, yet somehow many people will not adjust their thinking or actions.
The amount of devastation that the pine beetles are causing in BC is terrible. I had to go to my window and take a lingering look at the pine tree in my backyard.

Matt and Jen said...

Oh my gosh. What a terrible trajedy for the pine trees! And what a very thoughtful post on global warming.
I live in a small town area and I've heard all kinds of silly arguments about it. People like to throw around the word 'liberal' here a lot like it's a bad word. Yes, it's sort of sad how small minded they are, but also kind of funny in a South Park way. (If you watch, do you remember the 'They took our jobs!' episode?)
Quite frankly I wouldn't mind their ignorance if the environment wasn't suffering for it.

I hope people in your neck of the woods can work together to help the trees. It would be a big shame to lose them all. -Jen :)

Amy said...

I think the phrase global warming is much of the problem. Had it been called climate change from the get-go, it might not be so controversial...some folks who live with their heads half buried in the sand hear "warming" and insist that's all there is to it, so it's not happening cause there's still snow on earth. Crazy!

No matter what it is called, humans are poisoning the planet and I prefer it stop so I can eat clean food, drink clean water and breath clean air, ya know?

Great post!