Year 4, Month 5, Day 24: Born A Poor Young Country Boy

Have you hugged a tree today? The Portland Press-Herald:

Unless people dramatically cut the amount of carbon dioxide they’re putting into the air and water through industry, farming, landfills and fossil fuel consumption, Maine’s largest manufacturing industry will be damaged in ways scientists can only begin to predict.

That’s the conclusion reached by experts who are studying how climate change is likely to affect Maine’s more than 18 million acres of forests.

The nation’s most heavily forested state, Maine is likely to be in for a rude awakening in forestry within the next 20 to 100 years, state specialists predict. Which trees will flourish, and where, will change — gradually over time — and imperceptibly at first to most observers.

Which trees might disappear — literally migrating to reach more congenial growing conditions — and what the survivors will need to protect them from an erratic climate and a host of predators are questions researchers are trying to probe, knowing how difficult such projections can be.

But the implications are huge. In Maine, forests translate into a lot of land, money and jobs.

It’s getting harder and harder for denialists to keep it up…not when there’s real money involved. May 12:

Humanity’s success and prosperity would have been unthinkable without the essentially benign climate which made agriculture possible, setting the stage for our civilization to develop into a complex and planet-wide web. We could not have become who we are without closely cooperating with Earth’s natural cycles over countless thousands of years.

No more.

By releasing eons’ worth of fossilized carbon into the atmosphere in a geological instant, humans have traumatized their environment, with planet-wide consequences, from Maine’s endangered forests, drought-withered Midwestern corn fields, or Bangladeshi farmland inundated by rising sea levels.

These impacts are symptoms of our decision to separate ourselves from the tightly woven fabric of Earthly life. Fighting climate change demands not just that we change our energy economy and find ways to sequester atmospheric CO2, but that we build a relationship with the natural world that is once again based on principles of cooperation, not of competition.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 2: We Don’t Need No Education

More on the Deepwater Horizon. This one goes to Newsweek, which has an article on how the spill is going to affect the future of offshore drilling.

The fate of hundreds of communities and multiple ecosystems now hangs in the balance as a toxic oil slick begins to wash up on the coastlines of Louisiana and Florida. The Deepwater Horizon spill is both a crisis of terrifying proportions and a testament to human folly and hubris.

The crucial question is, “What will we learn from this disaster?” Will we learn that we need to wean ourselves from oil as rapidly as possible — or will we learn that communities and ecosystems are expendable? Will we learn that there is more energy to be saved through eliminating waste than there is to be found under the seabed — or will we learn that conservation (in the words of Dick Cheney) can “never be the basis of a sound energy policy”? Will we learn that when we include the costs of cleaning up spills and mitigating the worst effects of climate change, oil is not cheap, but horribly expensive?

We can no longer afford disasters of this magnitude. How many more Deepwater Horizons will it take before we learn that we’re better off leaving that oil in the Earth, and moving to a renewable-energy economy?

Warren Senders