Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletDecember 15, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Global Warming: A Blanket That Smothers by Sister Irene Kruse, CSJ


Are you ready for the $64,000 question? Are we really experiencing what scientists are calling the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming? There are several views that either attempt to exonerate us humans from blame or explain away our concerns regarding global warming as overkill.

Since the human race has not been keeping recorded changes in weather patterns until fairly recently (recently, that is, if you consider our planet=s history of over hundreds of million years), one view postulates that a few years of temperature change may be a natural progression in our evolution. Again, some blame changes in the sun, the earth and other natural events and not a few hundred drop-in-the-bucket years of pollution released by human pollution. And then you have a growing group that puts the blame squarely on our frail, human shoulders because of our impact on the environment. Senator James Inhofe labeled global warming Athe greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.@ On the other side of the coin, former Vice-President Al Gore=s film, The Inconvenient Truth, drew crowds to find out where the truth lies. So, is global warming fact or are we tilting at windmills? To quote a local news station, AWe report; you decide.@

Consider the situation of farmers across our nation who are suffering the loss of their livelihood, even having to sell their land heritage, because of drastic changes in temperature, flooding, wild fires resulting in the loss of livestock or the production of poor to very poor produce and record lows in yields. Some Indiana farmers have considered shifting from their time-honored crop rotation of corn and soybeans to two-year, continuous corn crops, selling their yields as biofuel to ethanol plants that are under construction in their state. Will these desperate farmers be able to sustain the needs of future generations as well as our own needs? Sustainability is the issue; global warming and the greenhouse gases are the culprits.

Organic farming is a new phrase; floating around and riding on its coattails is sequestration, the process in which plants and soils act as Asinks@ for atmospheric carbon dioxide, a by-product of global warming. Twenty-three years of study at The Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, a not-for-profit educational and research organization, has documented that organic soils can capture atmospheric carbon dioxide responsible for over 80 percent of global warming and convert it from 15 to 28 percent soil carbon. The results of organic farming are an encouraging, long-term asset. Secretary Kathleen McGinty of Pennsylvania=s Department of Environmental Protection says, ARodale=s data and findings will be most helpful in the development of future greenhouse-gas-mitigation strategies that will be beneficial to Pennsylvania=s citizens, its farmers and its business owners.@ 

      In an article in the November 17 issue of The Times Union, a drastic resolution to global warming was presented by the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul J. Crutzen who suggested deliberately spewing a layer of pollution into the atmosphere to help cool the planet. Sulfur dioxide, a common air pollutant, reflects solar radiation and could help in dropping the earth=s temperature. AIf the policy makers don=t take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this one,@ said Crutzen.

Our lifestyles demand more and more from our environment. Will the Earth=s resources run out if we continue to maintain and improve our lifestyles? We need to reduce global warming by distinguishing between our wants and our needs, giving Mother Earth a vacation, so that she can recoup her energies. We need to stop taking without offering something in return in order to maintain the homeostasis of our home planet. Some cities have taken steps to address the problem. Over 300 cities have signed the US Mayors= Climate Protection Agreement which commits them to reduce global-warming emissions. Thirteen states have adopted greenhouse-gas-emissions standards for new cars, trucks, and SUVs, and some have encouraged the use of wind and water to produce electricity; so there may be some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.

 

(January 2007)