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12 August 2010

THE LAST ENVIRONMENTALIST

In October of 2009, I was invited to attend the Governors Conference on Climate Change, the Road to Copenhagen in Los Angeles, California. This was the final gathering the troops, so to speak, before the Conference on Climate Change at Copenhagen in December of that same year.
The event was attended by Governors of other states, UN delegates, international media, scientists and engineers as well as non-profit organizations and corporate leaders…and all on the same page regarding Climate Change. All those attending were there for one purpose…to find solutions to a problem of global proportions.

I left the conference re-born with a new vigor as well as a new commitment towards the future. No matter what the talking heads on TV may say, it was clear that Climate Change is real and that a clear path on both a local as well as global level had been defined and that through our individual, as well as collective actions, we could make a difference.

About two weeks before the conference in Copenhagen was to begin, the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that climate change is a real threat to the planet as well as all life forms and that it was being driven by human activity. A simple statement, with global implications and coming from a US Government agency as a statement of fact could alter the vote of global delegates attending the conference.

And then like a pack of rabid dogs, the attacks on the agency and it proclamation began from all sides, first with outright challenges to the findings as “bogus” and “pseudo-science” and then the real war began with the leaking of private communications among various scientists about undisclosed errors in the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report. The final blow came in the form of select leaked e-mails from the Hadley Climatic Research Unit at Britain‘s University of East Anglia. This “smoking gun” appeared to vindicate climate change skeptics by suggesting scientists were deleting information that contradicted climate change.

This media “blitzkrieg” completely derailed the conference, forcing complete delegations to back down or not vote at all and the majority of the conference was left to defend the data and the reputations of thought-leaders and leading scientists. The fallout was devastating…the Kyoto Accord failed to pass, scientists, educators and environmental leaders were fired or quit under a cloud of shame. This coordinated action, by persons unknown, countered the Gore-effect and set the movement back almost 30 years.

Now, not nearly a year later, the EPA has announced that the allegations made against their original findings were not substantial enough to outweigh the decades of evidence the EPA had amassed that clearly indicated that: greenhouses gases have risen to unprecedented levels; that the accumulation of these gases is warming the planet; and that climate change is visible through shrinking Arctic ice, rising oceans and rising temperatures. It also restated that the rate of climate change is increasing and that greenhouse gases are the driving force behind this increase. It is a sad commentary on our society that not one word about these new and reaffirmed findings made the evening news.

So…now what? Like a bad call at a ball game, where the winning runner was later determined “out” after reviewing the tape…the game is over and score is in the books to be forever debated. It is easy to all “foul”, but the crowd has moved on and gone home. We now need to pick our selves up and dust ourselves off and regroup and rethink our next move.

It has become clear to me that we most rethink the whole concept of environmental activism. As a species, we have had a direct impact on the planet since we first climbed down out of the trees and then turned around and burn them for warmth. It has taken generations upon generations to accomplish the damage we have done to our home. Today, there are few, if any, locations on the planet that have avoided the effects of man. We need to take an even larger global view than ever before…as someone once said, “one mans endangered species is another mans dinner”.

There are two types of environmentalists, those who wish to live in harmony and balance with nature and those who wish to dominate and control nature. I believe that as there are certain aspects of climate change that are beyond our control and that in many ways, I fear, “the train as left the station”. It is no longer about control or change…it is now about survival of the species. The new environmentalist must bridge the ground between the two schools of thoughts, one of control verses harmony and man over nature as well as to seek new paths to a more sustainable, eco-centric and bio-diverse world.

Evolution is at hand, and as it has been throughout the history of our movement, there are those who hunt, those who prepare and those who just eat. Where will you fit in?

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