Daniela Ginta writes for The Armchair Mayor News on Fridays.
COLUMN — A few days ago, an uncomfortable (a euphemistic term if there ever was one) piece of news came out and, for the most part, it did not make too many waves. Then it fell into oblivion just like the rest of them. Trouble is, this one will resurface, and we will like it even less then, but it will be harder to ignore it.
For the first time in human history, in March of this year, the monthly global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded the threshold limit of 400 ppm. Carbon dioxide is one of the dreaded greenhouse gases whose accumulation over a certain level leads to disturbing climate manifestations, such as rising sea levels, increased temperatures across the globe, changes in weather patterns and powerful storms.
Our continuous love affair with fossil fuels has brought us to this point and dependent as we are on it, our survival instincts sparked anew by the above should kick the habit to the curb. It really is an ‘or else’ situation.
If the 400-ppm threshold seemed to be a distant threat, now it became real. There’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than we can fathom and because those levels are not bound to decrease any time soon unless we take drastic measures to reduce burning fossil fuel and at least have the said levels plateau until a better strategy comes along (which I dare hope it will, since I believe that we are creative and ingenious enough to make it happen.)
Every couple of months another report of ‘hottest month on record’ surfaces and that makes me think that the pledges of many cities around to world to be renewable energy-based in 10, 15 or 25 years from now, while good and commendable, might be coming a tad late to save the day.
Two days ago, adding insult to the injury, Shell has been recently granted permission to drill in the Arctic. Environmental groups and concerned citizens still hope to stop the project as the oil reserves they would extract put our planet’s well-being (and ours implicitly) in even greater danger than it already is.
Reckless is a word that we attach to actions from which judgment seems to be missing. Teenagers can be reckless, many say, but do wait a few years until their pre-frontal cortex gets all mature and that should take care of that recklessness.
Most of us making decisions, at a smaller scale or a larger one, are no longer teenagers. The pre-frontal cortex has been maturing enough to allow for proper decisions that address the greater good rather than the interest of a few.
Or so we think.
Recklessness occurs at many levels, and the worst is when someone’s well-being, or worse, life depends on choosing the right thing and refraining from the opposite. If climate change seems too distant a topic to make the point, the recent Amtrak accident due to speeding more than double the speed limit, killing at least eight people and sending more than 200 to the hospital, some in critical condition, brings forth the topic and makes a point we would’ve been better off if proven wrong. Recklessness kills.
Whether it is a car accident caused by speed, drunk driving or texting, or a train wreck caused by the same, or an oil spill caused by malfunctions and allowed to happen by overconfidence and greed, or an increased manufacturing and consumption of goods, big and small, or incessant fossil fuel extraction despite warnings of climate change, the conclusion is the same: those who make those decisions prove to be reckless and better decisions, as well as a sense of responsibility are needed in order to make things better.
Also, we need to apply fair consequences to where they are due, once everybody understands that every reckless action has consequences. Some may be more visible than others, some deadlier than others. Relying on each other and on our common sense rules may just pave the road to healthier, saner decisions altogether and realize that part of the decision making is doing it in a time-sensitive manner.
Whether we are talking about one life, or many, our immediate surroundings or the big world we’re all sharing, we need to be work together, dust off the old thinking hat and act in ways that show maturity.
It’s not the old and boring I am arguing for. On the contrary. Keep the kid inside alive and well, see the wonder through the eyes of the child you once were and save the world for the children whose eyes and hearts are wonderfully open and hopeful.
Then we will do the right thing.