Addiction is self-destructive. Stories of individuals who destroy their lives and families because of alcohol and drugs are all too common. On a larger scale, our fossil fuel addiction threatens the earth itself. Even BushCheney recognizes this-or at least he said so in his 2006 State of the Union Speech. The latest dispatch in this saga comes from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a report on the increasing acidity of seawater
which threatens the food chain on which life depends.
A coalition of federal and university scientists is to issue a report today describing how carbon dioxide emissions are..."dramatically altering ocean chemistry and threatening corals and other marine organisms that secrete skeletal structures."
Some have questioned global-warming predictions based on computer models, but ocean acidification is less controversial because it involves basic chemistry. "You can duplicate this phenomenon by blowing into a straw in a glass of water and changing the water's pH level," ... "It's basically undeniable."
[Ken Caldeira, a chemical oceanographer at Stanford University] has mapped out where corals exist today and the pH levels of the water in which they thrive; by the end of the century, no seawater will be as alkaline as where they live now. If carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current levels, he said, "It's say goodbye' to coral reefs."
Although the fate of plankton and marine snails may not seem as compelling as vibrantly colored coral reefs, they are critical to sustaining marine species such as salmon, redfish, mackerel and baleen whales.
"These are groups everyone depends on, and if their numbers go down there are going to be reverberations throughout the food chain," said John Guinotte, a marine biologist at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute....
So along with the possibility of rising sea levels attributed to global warming, the world's food chain is at risk. All because human beings cannot see beyond their immediate situation and take action to prevent what will destroy future generations' ability to live on this planet. Politicians and businessmen are unwilling to jeopardize current profits and prospects to wean the world's economy away from the fossil fuels that contribute to the potential disaster.
If future generations are lucky, maybe the world will run out of oil before we destroy the planet but given the rate of change that has become evident in recent years and the world's willful ignorance, I don't think that's too likely . I'm old enough that I will not live to see the full consequences of our addiction, but it distresses me that we can look at the future and pretend that nothing will change even as we send our children and grandchildren toward the abyss.
The United States should be leading the world away from that abyss. The Energize America program and the Apollo Alliance offer models for such an effort. Instead, America pours lives and treasure into Iraq in order to maintain our addiction.