By Ann OBrien
“Don’t you feel that the day is coming?
And it won’t be too soon
When the people of the world
Can all live in one room. “
– Stevens Cat (1970)
For years I’ve wondered what Cat Stevens’ words could mean. Today his texts make me aware that we share an earth with 7.8 billion people and that our collective survival depends on the health of our planet. Colorado and the American West are now in the crosshairs of rapidly advancing environmental degradation. We must step up our efforts to address the dangerous effects of climate change on our health, safety and economic well-being.
Floods, fire, drought, extreme temperatures: these are the harbingers of the destruction caused by climate change; they can no longer be viewed in isolation or temporarily. Recent articles in the Daily Camera cover fire and weather events happening around the world. These events are a call to action.
Do we have to worry that our earth is becoming less and less habitable? Scientists say yes, and we cannot ignore the mounting evidence showing how it affects our health, the enjoyment of the environment, access to water and our economy.
Extreme temperatures put enormous stress on elderly and health impaired people (“Wildfire Smoke Clouds Sky, Hurts Air Quality,” Gillian Flaccus and Sara Cline, Associated Press, July 21). Air pollution from the fires this summer has traveled hundreds of miles from west to east. Are we going to be a nation of people who live behind closed windows on exercise bikes?
Rising temperatures in our rivers lead to fish deaths (“Warming Rivers in US West Killing Fish, Imperiling Industry,” July 27, Daily Nguyen, Associated Press). This could lead to a decline in recreational fishing and the associated economy. Are we going to be chair anglers watching fishing videos on TV?
The water supplies in the west are dwindling. While limited water supplies are an individual nuisance, think of Colorado farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by extreme weather (“Farmers, Ranchers Crave Stability in an Inreasingly Volatile World,” July 22, Lucas High, BizWest / Daily Camera). Will Colorado Peach and Beef Consumption Be A Thing Of The Past?
The declining health of our earth is depressing, but we can take steps to promote clean energy and save our earth. First, we can spend time reading about the effects of climate change and researching climate solutions. The citizen’s climate lobby has actively campaigned for a climate solution that takes center stage: HR 2307 was recently reintroduced in the congress. This bill establishes a revenue-neutral tax on carbon production and returns the proceeds to the American people. Visit citizenclimatelobby.org for more information on HR 2307 and how you can get our lawmakers to act.
Will we heed the call to preserve our health, our economy and our enjoyment of nature? I hope we do it, if not for ourselves, for the generations that will follow us.
Ann OBrien is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Boulder Chapter