It’s all their fault – the dinosaurs that is. Well, they had a pretty good run on the stage of planet Earth as masters of the planet for 165 million years. But then, whack – a cataclysmic event wiped them out about 65 million years ago. And that started the whole mess – I mean the energy mess.
There’s poor Nemo, your typical male T Rex out one day looking for lunch, a meteor hits the planet and the rest, including Nemo, is history. Little did Nemo expect when he woke up that morning that one day his transformed remains were going to end up being pumped into somebody’s Hummer so that mom could take the kids to soccer practice in a place called America.
Fortunately for the dinosaurs they had not developed the telescope so their demise was unexpected and probably nearly instantaneous for most of them. But had they known that the meteor was hurtling on a collision course to Earth they would have had no more ability to alter its path than we are. They were the victims of true climate change.
Before the first oil well was purposely drilled in Titusville, PA in 1859, oil and natural gas seeped naturally from the ground in various places in the country. In many cases mining for salt opened veins into these deposits and they were considered more of a nuisance than anything useful. Then mankind learned how to make kerosene which began to be used for lighting. In time kerosene became the fuel of choice, replacing whale oil which was formerly used to illuminate our homes.
In 1859 in a virtually pristine America, consider the conundrum of an environmentalist with imagination who foresees the invention of the horseless carriage and how oil will become a potential threat to our planet because its use releases greenhouse gas. On the other hand, by using it we are doing the right thing in saving the largest mammals on earth, our whales, from hunting and possible extinction.
As we know, there was no environmental agenda 165 ears ago nor was there a need for one. But things have changed, and while I do not necessarily agree with the hyperbolic rhetoric that those who forecast our imminent doom use, it is hard to deny that our cities with their dense populations contain worse air than our heartland’s wheat fields and that mankind has an impact on the world. But we do it one person at a time.
The other day I was engaged on this subject by a fellow dog owner at the park. Both of us were originally from NYC yet despite that, we have diametrically different views of the world. He introduced the statement that “Ninety-five percent of all scientists believe that mankind is responsible for climate change.” The following day he brought me a printout that substantiated his position. I appreciated his follow up. To me it demonstrated his passion for the subject and his belief in his position.
Now as a rational person it is clear to me that each of us has an impact on the world or, if you prefer the term, the environment. For example, a person who murders another person has inalterably changed the world. The victim was about to get married and might have had several children. Those children will never be born as a result of the murder. What if one of those children had turned out to be a brilliant inventor who found an efficient, inexpensive way to produce universal renewable energy? Or what if that child was left as an unborn embryo on the cutting room of an abortion clinic?
The day following our initial conversation I again engaged this chap on the subject. I asked him whether he had walked to the park. He replied that he had driven. I mentioned that I also had driven there, the three miles one way. So I pointed out to him that we both obviously put our two dogs’ need to socialize with others of their kind above our concern for the carbon emissions we were going to cause by using our vehicles. By extension, anyone who uses electricity to light his home or gas to heat it has made a personal decision that his personal comfort is more important than the environment. I have yet to hear of an environmentalist who operates his laptop by utilizing candle power.
After years of “study,” the news is finally in that the Keystone XL Pipeline does not pose any grave threats to the environment. Whether this project goes forward or not is now up to President Obama. He is finally expected to approve it some time this summer – about five years late.
During the course of this hiatus there have been eleven incidents in which oil was being transported by freight trains that derailed. Some of the contents of the oil cars spilled – sometimes in fiery explosions. Mankind will never invent perfect solutions to our challenges until we ourselves become perfect. That may be awhile.
In writing this post I realized how great mankind’s indebtedness is to our dinosaur predecessors, as unanticipated by them as it was. I would raise a glass in a toast to them, but there’s no hooch in the house. So I’ll just add this to my blog and in commemoration of their sacrifice turn the heat up a little. It’s a bit chilly in the house.