It’s hard for some of us to know what to think. The vast majority of scientists say greenhouse gases from human activity are causing, and will continue to cause, catastrophic climate change, with the world’s poor suffering the most.
On the other hand, radio hosts tell millions of their followers that human activity has no effect on global warming.
So we must come to our own conclusions. I’ll stick with the scientists. And I want to know how I can do my part in turning this thing around.
Thomas Friedman’s opinion column in the Sunday New York Times, based on the recent climate talks in Bali, focused on the juggernaut of global commerce that he likens to "a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck, and we’ve lost the key — so no one can stop it from wiping out more and more of the natural world, no matter what the global plan."
The essay continues:
Indonesia is now losing tropical forests the size of Maryland every year, and the carbon released by the cutting and clearing — much of it from illegal logging — has made Indonesia the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after the United States and China. Deforestation actually accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world, an issue the Bali conference finally addressed.
Barnabas Suebu, the governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, "waxed eloquent," Friedman wrote, "about how difficult it is to create jobs that will give his villagers anything close to the income they can get from chopping down a tree and selling it to smugglers, who will ship it to Malaysia or China to be made into furniture for Americans or Europeans."
Here’s how it works for me: As I consider the new flooring for my living room, will I choose some great deal on Indonesian hardwood of unknown origin and pretend I don’t know that my choice is contributing to the deforestation tragedy? Or will I spend a few bucks more to buy wood from a forest certified to be sustainably operated? This is my moment.
One good thing about all this: I now understand how ancient, great civilizations failed. A juggernaut was set into place that could not be stopped.
I don’t know if humankind will pass this test. I only know that I want to.
(Photo courtesy of Export Bali)