What we can do, today, about climate change

For Hampshire Life
Published: 4/25/2019 4:38:12 PM

As our climate warms because of our addiction to fossil fuels and more, we all pay a high price for the many conveniences available to us in the U.S. in 2019.

Our infrastructure crumbles despite the easy availability of gasoline for our automobiles. We demean the humanity of immigrants finding their way to our borders often because of our wars. Waging war costs not only in treasure and human lives but also in the constant release of carbon dioxide, the source of global warming. Ocean waters rise to threaten our coastlines, species become extinct, animals’ migratory patterns shift — and still, we indulge mindlessly in products and services that warm the planet.

As global warming threatens us all, heartless U.S. policies defy common sense as our nation refuses to participate in sensible international efforts to reverse the effects of greenhouse gases. Global warming brings severe weather, says the National Resources Defense Council, along with dirty air and persistent threat to human health. NRDC says that fossil fuels, especially coal, create the most CO2 at 2 billion tons annually, followed by transportation at 1.7 billion tons annually.

“Losing Earth: A Climate History,” a new book by Nathaniel Rich, explains that the oil industry operates at the heart of global warming. The author says we’ve created more CO2 since 1989 than in all preceding generations.

Global warming first came to my attention in 1997 after my husband, Tom, died. I felt irresponsible driving alone from Northampton to Mount Toby Quaker Meeting in Leverett, so I looked for someone to rideshare. Carl Davies stepped forward. As we rode, he introduced me to global warming. From Davies, I learned about Richard Heinberg, a journalist who has written extensively about global warming and now serves as the senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute.

Davies and I brought Heinberg to speak at Amherst and Smith Colleges in the late 1990s, and Richard met with a small group who wanted to decide what to do. There began some local efforts to address global warming. For example, in the days before Massachusetts laws stated, “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride,” we encouraged hitchhiking to minimize the use of gasoline by driving cars.

Michael Klare, a Five Colleges professor, wrote the indispensable “Resource Wars” and “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency.” Klare has often spoken about peak oil and the likelihood that we’ll run out before we figure out how to maintain our many petroleum-dependent conveniences.

I would like to see more solarization in Massachusetts cities and towns, including downtown Amherst and Northampton. I very much appreciate the complaint of young people who think that we all should have done something to prevent global warming but, instead, will hand the problem off to them.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that nuclear power will offset global warming. It’s a ruse perpetrated by the nuclear industry whose mining and transportation depend on fossil fuels. Nothing portends more danger than nuclear power, and we have never found a place to store nuclear waste.

In 1971, I read “Diet for a Small Planet,” a bestseller by Frances Moore Lappé, the first major book to note the environmental impact of meat production as wasteful and a contributor to global food scarcity. She argued for practicing a vegetarian lifestyle out of concerns about the production of animal-based products. I have been a vegetarian ever since.

People can grow food in household gardens, support local farmers markets and cooperatives and dine in vegetarian restaurants to resist global warming.

I don’t travel in airplanes and, even when I had a car, I walked to errands. I brought a rolling cart to the grocery store.

We should have more free bus service and more public transportation.

People can always reuse and recycle. I love the slogan “Wear it out, use it up. If in doubt, do without.” I endorse banning plastic bags, whose manufacture depends on fossil fuels. I shop for clothing in a used clothing store.

We have to turn things around, and we have to do it soon.

A 1977 Gazette article described Frances Crowe as “a long-time anti-war activist.” The founder of the American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts, Crowe continues her pioneering peace work today.

  




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