William A. Gralnick
In (1998) a campy movie hit the screens called Armageddon. Starring Bruce WIllis, it was about the impending doom coming down from space and its improbable thwarting. The thwarting was done by a crew of drilling engineers who went into space, landed on the meteor headed to earth, dug an 800 ft hole, implanted an atomic bomb, blew it off course and saved the world. Hooray! Strangely enough neither scenario is that improbable anymore. NASA is tracking meteors and the science of how to blow one up in a crisis isn’t far from what the movie depicted.
Jews used to say that through skyrocketing intermarriage and dropping birth rates, we would finish Hitler’s work for him. Many a national and international figure is saying not to worry about outside forces, we will end our civilization all by ourselves. The UN Chief Antonio Guterres said that we, the human race, are sleeping walking to irreparable climate disaster.
Below you will find a very incomplete list of things that we ignore truly at our own peril. I’ve only suggested a few examples for the list I’ve chosen. Otherwise this would be a book. Maybe it will wake up some people. The real takeaway is that this list won’t even qualify as a hefty short list. Like the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” the list has no bottom.
Impact of climate change: The paradise island of Fiji is an example of several island nation’s that are making doomsday plans. The ocean is rising so fast they can see the end. Nations that are part of an island chain already have begun to relocate families to islands in their chain that are further above sea level than the ones they are living on.
Some of you remember the cry, “Don’t spit on the floor. Remember the Johnstown Flood.” We are soon going to be able in Miami Beach to say, “Don’t spit on the street. Remember last month’s sewer back up.”
I lived on Miami Beach for a few years almost forty-five years ago. Even then a heavy rain would flood the streets. Now it’s almost any rain that will do it. Miami Beach is mostly at sea level. Key Biscayne is below it. Plans are finally under way to create Netherland-like sea barriers. Don’t spit. Every little bit helps…
The Amazon: Whoever thought about the Amazon.? We didn’t care about the people who lived there who were the only ones who took care of its monstrous importance in the world. It was a big forest with beautiful birds and exotic animals. Then came the logging industry and clearing cutting immense amounts of trees. These immense clear cuts leave immense openings in the crucial canopy of the rainforest. If that continues, it can impact the whole world by drastically changing the balance of CO2 taken out of the air and O2 being put into it.
Wildfires: There is no doubt that forest mismanagement contributes to wildfires both by states and the Federal government. This worsens forest fires which are a normal occurrence of nature’s forest management. That is not what is at the heart of what’s happening in California, and Oregon, Texas, and Maine and increasingly anywhere there are large forests. With longer droughts, hotter summers, lesser amounts of snow, and increased numbers of thunder and lightning storms–you can fill in the rest. In case you can’t, here’s some help. Globally we lose eighteen (18) million acres of forests a year.
Animals, Butterflies and Beas: People live in the forests or at their edge. These are stupid humans. Animals live in the forests. The forests belong to them. In last year’s California fires it is estimated that one million animals died. Outside of Butterfly World, when was the last time you saw bunches of butterflies? Without concentrated attention the gorgeous Monarch Butterfly almost went extinct. In several states the Bumble Bea is gone. In others, it is near gone. Honey Bees too are rapidly disappearing. Why should you care? Think pollination, food supply, and now current, workable ways to pollinate without the creatures the good Lord gave us to do that.
Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone Since 1970: (Yes that’s a “B” wth a 3 in front of it.) Forests alone have lost 1 billion birds. Grassland bird populations collectively have declined by 53%, or another 720 million birds. A staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling. Twenty-nine percent of North America’s bird population. Aside from the joyful noise they provide, fun of finding them trilling in the trees–again think food supply.
Rising temperatures have been found to be deadly to bumblebee populations. The Sierra Club says that on hot days, bees stop gathering pollen and expend their energy trying to fan their colony and keep it cool. CNN writes, “Declines in their populations are associated with increasing frequency of hotter temperatures and drying out of habitats, which raises bumblebees’ risk for extinction and diminishes their chances of colonizing a new area and creating more species.”
Habitat destruction is another factor contributing to the decreasing bumblebee population. The Center for Biological Diversity noted in February this year that, “In Illinois, where the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee once represented 1 in 4 bumblebee sightings, it has disappeared from the northern part of the state and, overall, is down an estimated 74% since 2020.
Pollution of the Ocean: The Ocean seems endless. It is part of the reason that people used to think the earth was flat. Oceans are dying. Common types of marine debris include various plastic items like shopping bags and beverage bottles, along with cigarette butts, bottle caps, food wrappers, and fishing gear (National Geographic). Plastic waste is particularly problematic as a pollutant because it is so long-lasting. Plastic items can take hundreds of years to decompose. What when one gets out into the middle of them one finds dead zones where life no longer lives. One finds great loss of sea life from often illegal fishing techniques that catch fish indiscriminately There are hundreds of square miles where islands of gunk float–garbage, plastic, clothing. The cruise ships, despite their protests, are killing the goose that lays golden eggs for them.
of this–all over the globe
Plastic time bomb: look at the packaging you’re throwing away, This past week I checked my recycling. There was almost nothing in it that wasn’t plastic. Plastic is in almost everything. In liquids and make up and so much more there are plastic micro-balls mostly invisible to the naked eye. Ingested by fish and turtles they are a death sentence. The Great Barrier Reef just had another major die off from pollution. The beloved Florida Manatee population is dying from starvation. It is due to the mismanagement of river flow and the constant turn-your-back on it pollution from the sugar cane industry.
My parent’s generation was given hints. Hiroshima, SMOG, Hole in the Ozone layer, they did not teach us well. The were too busy cementing themselves into American society and doing what they had to do when they realized the streets were not paved with gold. My generation saw the enemy and many of us began to realize that the enemy was us. We did not teach our children well. We were too busy changing our habits. Wants overwhelmed needs. The question now is if we will be able to impress this seemingly existential issue of doom on our grandchildren (and their parents). “The children shall lead us.” But to where? Are they going to be consumer lemmings and lead us over the cliff of climate change or are they going to be Bruce Willis’ and avert disaster? Good question–at least from my perspective.