50.5 F

Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A view from the soapbox

I’d like to say a few words about the environment. Now that the election has run its course and mass media outlets are experiencing a fire-sale for obscure minutiae to cover, it’s time to remind ourselves of the unimpeachable importance of maintaining our global habitat.

First, let’s accept that Earth has the last word. Any bump, bust or crash our silly human economies can experience is a passing irrelevance compared to the consequences of a Gaia scorned. Job losses and price jumps are threatening, sure, but they only become really frightening when they’re wrapped up in a bigger story of resource depletion and environmental shift. Jobs and industries may disappear forever, deemed unsustainable and untenable. The American auto industry is imploding as consumers can no longer afford to buy gas-swilling Fordian hulks. The big three American auto producers, once robust economic superpowers, have now thoroughly been slapped around by an indignant Mama Earth coming to give us all a piece of her mind. What good would an economic bounce-back be if we were still on the same course toward running out of oil and irreparably changing the environment? We must submit ourselves to the fact that our environment must never, ever be ignored.

Second, don’t fall for anything stupid. In trying times, there’s never any shortage of false prophets and bad ideas all pledging to lead us to safety and it falls to us to call them out.

Offshore drilling: It’ll take 10 years to see the benefit, it’ll take fossil fuels to even build the rigs and infrastructure and it leaves us with the same damn problem.

Ethanol: It was a ploy for the corn-farming vote, would never work. If we converted 100 percent of America’s grain supply into ethanol fuel, we’d satisfy 15 percent of private transport fuel demand, generate megatons of waste and, oh yeah, starve. Already, global food prices have led to hunger in the third world thanks to the burning of food and feedstock. Think harder, America!

Props 7 and 10: Good riddance.

Prius: When gas hits $10 a gallon, Prius owners will be subjected to ridicule as they ride public transit.

Fiji Water: half of Fijian natives don’t have safe drinking water, but feel free to shell out three bucks to drink tap.

Third, consider new solutions. America must advise the developing world not to repeat our mistakes and work to create sustainability rather than unchecked growth at any expense. “Global community must take on whole new layers of meaning. Public works programs and an expansion of the Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders and other like-minded organizations could be substantially beneficial. A global economy, debt forgiveness and the issue of credit would be pretty bomb too, but that’s just dreaming for now. The question of energy demands quick resolution and the options are all out on the table. The time has come to stop hesitating and choose a course. Wind, solar, tidal, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal schemes can be used to cover a portion of energy demand, but to finally put oil and coal behind us, we need something a little more substantial. Enter the nuke. The bad rap nuclear power has is xenophobic hocus-pocus; meltdowns have only ever occurred twice and only in extreme conditions of incompetent workers and machines. On the upside, nuclear power burns nothing (as in, zero carbon) and extracts truly cosmic amounts of power from minimal fuel requirements. Disposal is a concern, and I recommend we stick the waste into a subduction zone to get pulled under the Earth’s crust and create a subterranean race of super-mutants.

Even with the energy crisis quieted, that will only mean we will be able to keep living with the lights on. For everything else, Americans and humans the world over will need to live more conscientiously and more in tune with nature. We must cease living against the ecosystem and, through compassion and respect, live as a part of it.

Make the change so that we can look back one day on our SUV-driving ancestors as misguided children of our common Earth.


CHEYA CARY ran out of column inches before things to say, so e-mail him at cjcary@ucdavis.edu at any time for any reason.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here