Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 9, 2012

SHADES OF GREEN: Better safe than sorry when it comes to the climate

By PAUL STEURY
COLUMNIST

— I remember my grandma saying “Better safe than sorry.”

What did she mean by that? You should be cautious. If you are not, you may regret it. Being careful is probably more desirable than risking a bad result. It makes sense (and is certainly safer) to take precautionary measures before anything bad happens.  

It is better to act cautiously beforehand than to suffer afterward.

I know some of you still don’t believe that climate change is not happening AND I know you cannot pinpoint climate change as the villain of all and that is the reason why people deny it.

But I don’t understand that people cannot believe that there isn’t any sort of change happening.  

Increased drought. Increased temperature. Increased storm damage. Strange weather patterns.



I had an elderly, caring, sincere religious woman call me a couple years ago and say she did not agree with me going down to learn from Al Gore and his Climate Project about how to go into churches to talk about creation care, stewardship and changes in our climate. She told me the weather was getting warmer due to the End Times.

Another person at a Mennonite Conference in Ohio, where I was presenting, said he couldn’t trust Al Gore as far as he could throw him and he felt the EPA created climate change so Mr. Gore could get rich.

In February 2007 the Washington Post stated: “An international panel of climate scientists (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said … that there is an overwhelming probability that human activities are warming the planet at a dangerous rate, with consequences that could soon take decades or centuries to reverse.”

There could be some disagreement about that. I have a Tea Party friend who feels there is no way humans can affect this earth.

But I believe there are 7 billion people on this earth — fact right? Each person consumes — correct? And everything that is consumed had to have some sort of energy to create it — right? And when that energy is expressed it releases some sort of waste. Multiply the amount of waste/exhaust/emissions that you personally produce by 7 billion and that adds up.



All I am saying is that we need to lower our carbon production so the blanket of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere blanket doesn’t continue to thicken because I know when I am sleeping and I have too many blankets on I can just remove one of those comforters to decrease my heat production. Reducing the size of our blanket in our atmosphere is none too easy — except through reducing our carbon releases, which means reducing our consumption.

I am not saying “don’t buy anything.” I am not saying become a Luddite and fear technology.

I am asking us to read and understand data AND work at being the solution and not the problem.

Currently our CO2 level in the atmosphere is 392 parts per million (ppm). Since the beginning of time we always had a CO2 blanket of around 275 ppm that helped us keep an average temperature of in the upper 50s globally. A goal that was given to us by some very wise climatologists is to reduce that number to 350 ppm.



Last week the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway said we putting more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air every second. They also stated globally our carbon production increased by 3 percent in 2011.

According to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) the average global temperature across land and oceans during June 2012 was 1.13 degrees F above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees F and ranked as the fourth warmest June since records began in 1880.

June 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive June and 328th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average June temperature was June 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985. It was the second warmest June in the Northern Hemisphere, behind only the record warmth of 2010. The Southern Hemisphere had its 12th warmest June on record.

I’m an environmental educator/lover of science. That kind of information tells me something.

Could it be a cycle of warming? Sure — it can be part of the situation — I am a holistic person.

But the 7 billion consumers.



Maybe we should end this fight of definition. And instead maybe we should just ask “do we love living on this earth?” I say loudly and enthusiastically — “YES”!!! Then we should ask, “How can we care for it if we love it so much?” and be accountable.

The simple answer that we’ve been hearing all along from Woodsy Owl — “give a hoot and don’t pollute.” The more difficult questions are — how do we get from point A to point B while reducing emissions of air pollutants into the atmosphere? What can we do to reduce the production of emissions? How do we turn love into action?

Bike. Walk. Ride the trolley.

Talk to your representatives about better public transportation systems throughout the city, county, state, country.

Turn off a light.

Turn down the heat just a little.

Turn up the air conditioners a little or think about opening a window instead.

Ask NIPSCO to continue the Feed-in Tariff program that offers a pay back to homeowners that produce electricity.

Ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow any one to produce energy — safely.

Let’s get more local farmers producing more local food for local eaters!

Let’s start discussions around Goshen that sees this caring essence as patriotic since it helps all of us, as spiritual conviction because it focuses on caring for the garden and as economic prosperity because it cuts spending/saves us money and our entrepreneurial history tells us — through data — that we as Americans do good things!