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Truth and consequences

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 4/22/11.

On Earth Day this year, we should all consider a point that my friend Victoria posted on her Facebook page two weeks ago about the debate on human responsibility for global warming:

“Even if people aren’t the cause of global warming, we still need clean air, clean water, and enough natural habitat for biodiversity, so we still need to plant trees, reduce waste, and conserve resources.”

I absolutely agree. I’m not saying the debate about whether or not humanity causes or contributes to climate change is irrelevant, because any solution to the problem is going to have to address its causes. But if you wreck a car through mistreating it, you can go buy another one.

I’m not aware of any other planets for sale. Common sense tells me that we should be making sure we give ours proper upkeep.

In my first AidBuzz blog, I mentioned that I wish the inventiveness of the developing world would migrate to the developed world. One reason is that some of the inventions I see implemented in the field are really cool, but the bigger reason is their efficiency and sustainability.

Deep down, we know that if everyone used resources like we do in the U.S., we’d consume ourselves dry at a terrifying rate. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I come from a pretty big extended family, and some of my cousins are parents. I look at their daughters, Elizabeth, Amy, and Mia, and I wonder about the kind of world we’re leaving their generation. By the time I grow old the world might still be in decent shape, but I don’t want to burden them with the consequences of our actions.

And we need to think beyond our own families. The consequences of America’s disproportionate historical role in using resources and creating emissions not only fall on more than just Americans. They fall hardest on the people who live in places like sub-Saharan Africa where there’s no social safety net for farmers battling droughts, or small Pacific island nations where oceans are rising and may wipe out some completely.

So, for Earth Day 2011, forget the blame game. Think of the consequences of keeping the status quo—for your favorite kid, for people around the world you’ll never meet but who are connected to you because we all live in this sphere, and for yourself and your quality of life. Isn’t it worth it?


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