Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Snow and Global Warming
I just returned from Baltimore, visiting potential colleges with my daughter (more about that another time I am sure). The city was still covered by nearly four feet of snow. There were literally mountains of snow everywhere. Cars were still buried and the sidewalks not yet plowed. All of this snow has led some to argue that the science of global warming is incorrect. If the earth is heating up how can there be more snow suggest some friends and politicians. Tom Friedman weighed in on this issue, again, in today's Times. I am not a scientist, so I evaluate things differently. Nonetheless I find the science convincing because I find the logic indisputable. Here is my logic. Human beings produce a lot of garbage and waste. We produce more today than we did years ago. I try my best to be environmentally conscious, but my efforts feel lacking. My wife and I probably drive about 400 miles per week. Nearly every room has a surge suppressor because there are so many electronics running or charging. Everyone has a computer, cell phone and iPod. None of these things are necessities of course, but my kids would have difficulty expressing this sentiment because they are so much a part of the computer age. I still remember talking to my friends on the house phone so living without a cell phone seems plausible and even welcome. Turning the cell off remains one of the only joys left of flying today. We are not a particularly wasteful family, but we do use a lot of juice, in particular electricity, gas--and even oil to heat the house. Even though our cars and appliances are far more efficient than those I grew up with, logic suggests that we are using more than when I was a teenager. Even if my family is using the same amount of energy as in the "ancient days of the 70's and 80's," the world's population is far larger. The US population has increased by about 75 million since then. That would seem like a lot more juice and a lot more waste. The notion that human beings can go about doing whatever they want and whatever they like and not worry about the consequences to our earth is illogical. The idea that we are not having any negative impact on our world appears to me wrong-headed. I don't know about the ocean levels rising, the polar ice cap melting, more droughts and fires in the west and more snowstorms and hurricanes in the east, but I do know that we are changing our world. To suggest otherwise seems illogical. We could argue about the forecasts, but we do better to band together and lessen our impact on the world. There is no place to go if we ruin our only home. As a Jew I am commanded to care for my world. We are its custodians. So the question should not be what more can I keep doing, but what must I change. The even more important questions are: what must we change? How can we change--today? How can we better care for our world?