There is never a good time to put out a book on climate change and if you want a really sobering look at what is happening to our environment today then you need to read ‘Protecting The Planet’ by environmentalists Budd Titlow & his daughter, Mariah Tinger. As an American book, it does tend to centre on how much more needs to be done in the USA to combat it but I doubt the politicians there will see things that way. Well, that is unless they don’t think the rise in carbon dioxide emissions, continual hurricane fronts tearing up the landscape and killing people and the melting of the ice caps and reducing land-size is going to endear them to the voters. I mean, who’s going to vote for them if there’s no one left to vote?
It’s also rather worrying that every time you hear a certain Florida governor says ‘I’m not a scientist’ then proceeds to ignore what environmental scientists say because it’s something they don’t or don’t want to understand. More so the same governor has banned his environmental department from mentioning words like ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ and ‘sea level rise’ or be sacked. This chap is also moving to the White House staff shortly. So much for US democracy! That kind of attitude is seriously damaging to all our healths and likely to put back environmental control back decades. Ignoring a threat won’t make it go away.
This doesn’t stop carbon dioxide emissions from growing and we are seeing the continual effects on land and people more now than a couple decades ago. To make it worse, things won’t get better unless there’s a concentrated effort to reverse these changes and it isn’t like we can’t all get involved.
As to the ice caps, watch the 2012 film ‘Chasing Ice’ www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5RYBGJDCAI , other sources are available and think how this will affect where you live. You might start considering moving at least 40 miles in-land and certainly live at a higher altitude as the sea water levels rise. Also, have a look at http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/ and the first episode is here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ
The real problem for environment issues is that it is either acting very slowly or with a weather deluge, there for a few days on the news and then brushed under the carpet for something new. In America, especially, long term problems aren’t always deemed news worthy. Information isn’t the territory, action is. It also makes the current terrorist activities look like a minor thing in comparison although the authors point out that as their land is eaten up, they will fight harder for their own territory.
There are a lot of facts in this book and don’t be taken in by the page count as in many respects, this is a reasonably fast read. Our fresh drinking water is 2.5% of the available water and as the sea levels rise, that will diminish as well because it will get into our fresh water rivers. We all depend on water and it doesn’t all come in bottles.
The second section shows the history of American conservation led by key people. Interestingly, there are a couple Brit migrates amongst this list. Don’t expect any punches to be pulled here. Looking across these chapters, had these people not been involved, the USA would have been an ecological disaster.
Picking out highlights that struck me. The loggers were quite happy to ‘cut’ slash, level and leave to supply wood without replacing, simply believing that there was an endless supply. It was Gifford Pinchon who fought and got this changed in the late 19th century. The farming practices of the mid-west that turned it into a dust bowl when they ploughed away the top soil and it blew away. Looking at the bigger picture here, I tend to also see it as everyone copying each other rather than think about what they were doing.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas preserving the Florida everglades after a hundred mile Okeechoebee River was ‘straightened’ by removing the smaller streams and how Disneyworld took over the wetlands will make you blush. Even the national parks became litter bins for tourists from inattention and I haven’t covered the reservoirs made destroyed vital ecologies. This doesn’t mean I don’t think other countries are free of their own environment problems but there should always be thoughts to consequences of any such actions and with the USA you have things at a much wider scale that can be seen.
When it gets to politics and environment, the authors reveal that it is often the effect of the President who can stir the most. When you consider that it’s not one of the subjects that powers a vote, you can tell that it the Democrats not the Republicans who have led the way. The latter tend to revert any changes that are done although there is reference made to Republican Bob Inglis who seems to buck that trend.
Looking at the effects of each President should send some shivers down your back. Jimmy Carter comes out as one of the bright lights on environmental issues and Reagan and the two Bushes the least. If you want scientific development and environmental control then you shouldn’t vote Republican based purely on this evidence. There is only a brief look at one other country and that is Russia and their interest in the Kyoto Protocol came about because Putin wants an in to the the World Trade Organisation, so it’s always about economics. There are times like this that I wish every politician read this kind of book and realise what happens if they don’t take any action on environment issues.
All too often, usually by the actions of some organisations that their actions rather than the reason why tends to depict environmentalists as being eccentric. Oddly, the examples from the turn of the last century worked out not doing such things but I guess that’s all more of the change of society since then.
There is also an extensive look at current day environmentalists from the people who you might have heard of, ranging from people like Bill Gates and Jim Cameron to actors Leonardo di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo, both using their positions to say things publicly. Granted the sub-title of this book is ‘Environmental Champions From Conservation To Climate Change’, I do wish there had been more examples of common folk who are making the difference, purely to show what you can do. It would also make sense to do a follow-up book on significant shakers and movers in the USA who are ignoring environmental issues as a wake-up call about who to be wary of.
The real problem with any books of this nature is that the people who should be seen to act on these problems don’t read these books. Many politicians don’t tend to think long term, let alone beyond their tenure in office. Mostly, I suspect because they also think any actions along these lines are not vote winners or can be handed to someone else to worry about.
It will be very hard for you to come away from this book without feeling angry. With America, you should certainly ask any politician up for re-election as to what they intend to do about environmental issues and see if they keep their promises.
(pub: Prometheus Books. 552 page hardback. Price: $26.00 (US), $27.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-225-6. Ebook: Price: $11.99 (US), $13.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-226-3)
check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com