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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox

Of Earth, sea and sky


There are many very heavy topics that people around the world should be aware of and discussing sensibly today. Easily the most urgent is the health of our life-sustaining planet.
As inhabitants of Earth, restoring this planet to its full health should be seen as our infinite privilege. After all, folks, we have nowhere else to go but, at the very least, past privilege, it is the responsibility of all world citizens and leadership.
Remaining informed and being knowledgeable about what’s happening with the climate, how much of it is man-made or exacerbated by mankind isn’t a matter of opinion – it’s a matter of facts, whether we like them or not.
We can certainly agree that some damage is collateral and some negligible, but so much of the damage we do can also be instantly eliminated. It’s a direct result of habits and unnecessary indulgences we’ve developed. The smallest things we’re doing in our lives are creating irreconcilable damage. The smallest changes we make in our lives will create immeasurable improvement. Most changes would be barely noticed by the average person.
Corporations making billions killing the planet will have to join modernized nations around the globe. They must change from antiquated fossil fuels to practical, proven profitable, renewable energy sources. Plastics must be quickly returned to – or replaced with – viable, environmentally positive, still profitable, alternatives.
If we don’t get a handle on these problems fast, we’re not going to have any problems to solve – the fight will be lost. The planet will respond in its only natural way. Eventually, but not slowly enough to be painless, we will be lost. These are facts. The evidence surpasses Hugo, Sandy, Katrina and Ida.
When I was a kid I can remember asking my parents about tornadoes. Their answer gave me complete comfort. I lived in New York City; we didn’t get tornadoes in New York City. As recent activity is proving, we no longer have that guarantee. These aren’t normal weather patterns or natural, gradual changes. These, as well as the locations, frequency, duration and strength of wildfires and drought, are new phenomena caused by neglect, lack of discipline and greed. The situation is growing deadlier. No amount of wealth will insulate anyone, nor will any display of denial.

The temperature of the earth rises due to buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are several of these. Most are naturally occurring and used to be naturally dissipated by the earth’s surface and atmosphere, but as we increased the amount of each through self-indulgence, and decreased forests, the planet can no longer launder them fast enough. Man-made fluorocarbons can’t be naturally recycled. Simply said, our planet is becoming an encapsulated sphere giving off more heat than it can dissipate. Like a tea kettle, we’re ready to blow.
This isn’t science only for meteorologists. Anyone with an open mind can wrap their brain around it. Abundant, reliable, nonpolitical, scientific research is available to help all of us easily understand this. Besides, most of us have been in a sauna or seen a greenhouse. The principles are the same – when heat builds up in an enclosed space, it cannot and will not dissipate without adequate ventilation, no matter who wishes it would.
The lives of all of us start and end with air, land and sea, which are all reliant on the atmosphere. We are tied to these and our health to their health. As the planet warms, the air and water warm with it. Ice melt cycles have always affected the currents. As they are changed by the heat’s effect, so are those currents. That changes everything, including migration and reproduction of sea-life, land animals, and the cycles of lakes and streams on which entire nations rely.
We may think we are so smart that we can outwit the earth and sky, but massive changes including hurricanes and tornadoes disprove it, painfully. The gentle balance that maintains sea and sky, storms and surf, the air supply and food chains, of which we are a part, are all in our care. We’re all in this together ... from single-celled ameba to all life on earth, and in the seas and sky.
Nothing and no one will escape the death of Mother Earth. Like every good mother, she’ll go down fighting, but when she’s no longer viable, all will end. It’s a tough way to close out the human story.
Earth, eventually, will reinvent herself. We won’t be here to exercise that option.