Monday, June 24, 2013

Nature on the Rampage

In recent weeks, nature has been on the rampage. Floods. Fires. Tornadoes. Tropical storms. All over the world. I don't know if this is global warming or not. Probably is, but too many don't or won't believe that humans have a role in putting too much pollution into ecosystems. We have a role in seeking a solution, one person at a time.

We are all at fault. We drive our cars when we could take public transportation or walk. We produce too much trash per capita and lament when it has to be trucked or barged out of state when local landfills are overflowing. We create electricity using fossil fuels instead of renewable fuel sources.

The fire season in the U.S. started early this year. Tens of thousands of acres burned, too many houses destroyed, firefighters and civilians dead. It happens every year. When I lived in Southern California, fires were part of life. My canyon didn't burn while I was there, but friends in Malibu Canyon lost property twice. I have dreadful memories of racing down toward the Pacific Ocean on horseback, bareback, leading six terrified horses behind me, just as the fire crested the ridge. We got out safely and met up with other riders and evacuated horses on the sands. We should expect fires out there because nature designed the hills of Southern California to burn. Overpopulation in danger areas, drought, high temperatures, Santa Ana winds--not easy to find a solution, but it will take all of us.

Floods have devastated parts of the central U.S. when the Mississippi flooded. The Army Corps of Engineers manages the river through a series of levies and dikes. Control measures worked to minimize flooding this year. Not so in Canada and India. Calgary is under brown flood waters. Property is destroyed, but few people drowned. Not so in India where a storm slammed against the Himalayas and dumped and dumped and dumped water on hillsides. Flooding today has taken over 1000 lives. We all grieve for those lost and their families who remain. We may not be able to do much about floods. Maybe we can control them better, but who thinks to build levies where you've never had disastrous flooding before, as seems the case in Calgary.

Air pollution, ah, there's something we can do something about. We can drive less. Yes, even you can cluster your trips. You can buy more gas-efficient cars. If you live in a city, try walking or using public transportation. We can encourage our government to invest in alternative energy. Every household that gets its electricity from alternative sources is one more not burning fossil fuels. We can turn off lights. I mean, the coffee pot doesn't give a hoot about what's on television. It isn't watching. Turn off the TV. Unplug your power strips when you go on vacation. You can't imagine how much electricity all your power chargers drain every day.

Recycle. Try to put at least 40% of your trash in recycle bins. If your community doesn't recycle, lobby for it to change its practice. Since we don't systematically process methane from land fills, we mess up the environment twofold. We could reuse methane for fuel across the country. We could recycle. We can compost garbage.

We are to blame. So we need to suck it up and fix the problem, one person at a time. I challenge you to pick one way to help nature and get started.