Legacy of 2008: The Wake Up Call of Yesterday

the-planet-earthAs we have embarked on a new year (with all its promises and opportunities) it is certainly worth to reflect upon what the previous year has meant to us and what legacy it is leaving behind. Filled with both hope and despair 2008 brought us a long list of new discoveries and developments at home and abroad. In this vast pool of events most people will have their own summary of what the year has given to us, I have chosen two areas which I believe are in critical need of our attention. The first of these will be the topic of this post. 

Perhaps the most alarming developments during the year have been occurring in the environment. Most of you (if not all) will definitely have heard a fair deal about climate change and the warming of our planet by now. However, as we continue this murderous pollution the changing climate is causing an unprecedented amount of natural disasters (disasters which are wreaking havoc around the world) and it is clear that climate change has not been discussed enough.

droughtIncluded in the 2008 calculation are not only the tropical storms and floods in the U.S., the earthquakes in China, the cyclone in Burma and the volcanic eruptions in the Americas. No, the effects of our treatment of the planet stretches further, to the droughts and famines claiming thousands of lives in Africa, to the toxic air threatening the Chinese population and to the decreasing amount of fish that swim in the mighty oceans.

Many are those who say man can survive these threats. Improved infrastructure can be made resistant to earthquakes, hold off storms and floods. This is true. Man is always developing and creating better means for himself. But what happens when the earth is too dry to plant seeds? What happens when the air pollution gets so grave that a breath of fresh air is no more than a memory? What happens when the last fish dies and the ecosystem under the surface (a world we know extremely little about) ceases to exist?

These questions, as well as the scale of the climate crisis, might seem exaggerated. But unless we change the current pattern of global destruction (pollution, deforestation, scavenging and all other forms) we will know the answers and the Native Americans (Cree) will be right;

“Only when the last tree is cut; only when the last river is polluted; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realize that you cannot eat money.”

No Time for Despair

early_morning_wake-up_callThe anguish that follows the changing climate of 2008 may very well be the most important wake up call any year has ever brought us. Instead of provoking a global feeling of helplessness and doom, these developments have drawn people together and inspired thousands to put their minds, energy and time to work out solutions for the problems and develop greener alternatives to our dirty methods (this includes the aviation industry, one of the biggest offenders, which is developing and currently testing biofuels – such as extract from algae – in commercial planes).

Even the environmental criminal, George W. Bush, has decided to do something for the environment (perhaps more to boost his appalling legacy) and vowed to establish the world’s largest marine protection area. Sheltered from mining and commercial fishing, the area covers about 505, 000 square km (195, 000 sq miles) in the Pacific Ocean and includes the Mariana Trench (the deepest trench on the planet), coral reefs as well as underwater volcanoes. As these places provides the habitat of hundreds of species of birds and fish which are not found elsewhere, the Bush Administration’s recent incentive  is certainly looked upon favorably. Yet, without curbing climate change the coral reefs Bush is aiming to protect will suffer from the warming oceans (by bleaching, for example) and the project will be meaningless, no more than a failed attempt to amend 8 years of disastrous environmental policies.  

However, great initiatives to slow down and ultimately stop global warming are also being made in the U.S. As 2008 brought us the final phase of the Bush era, these initiatives have come from a fairly new face in the political arena. President elect Barack Obama, who is facing the towering task of creating more than 3 million jobs in the midst of a financial crisis, has seen opportunities (rather than anguish) in this challenge and vowed to invest a substantial amount of money to double alternative energy production in the next three years (now he needs to realize that there is no such thing as “clean coal”).

greenenergyIn spite of the financial crisis making this seemingly costly initiative harder to implement (or get through Congress) this is an investment crucial for our future and we cannot afford to leave it behind. The creation of a larger sector of alternative energy would not only contribute to lower emissions but would create much needed jobs and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. This would in turn bring even more jobs back to the nation and lead to more U.S. dollars being invested inside the U.S. borders. To put extra credit to the initiative it might also prevent U.S. dollars (well, at least some of it) from being sent into the hands of gross human rights violators (however, many of these receive money from several U.S. sources, one being “development aid”).

Having said that, the changing climate and the natural disasters which characterized 2008 should definitely be seen as nature’s last wake up call for humanity. Now is the time for all of us to act (and act quickly) if we want to stop current developments from escalating into chaos. Luckily it seems like many of us have learnt our lesson from the previous year as we are investing more money and time in environmental research than ever before, developing new ways for a greener future. To make sure that these developments continue throughout 2009 (and for a long time after that) the president elect, as well as members of Congress, have to stand true on their promises. Indeed being the top man in the U.S. will prove to be even harder than we could have imagined – let’s hope that we got the right man for the job this time.

– Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

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~ by politicsoftomorrow on January 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “Legacy of 2008: The Wake Up Call of Yesterday”

  1. Vi får hoppas vi går mot en uppvaknande. Annars kan 2008 bli ihågkommet som en av de år då det fortfarande skulle gått att göra något åt klimathotet innan det blev försent. som vanligt mycket välskrivet och träffsäkert formulerat.

  2. Interesting blog as always. 2009 and the following years will be crucial for the environment. Hopefully the financial crisis will be a turning point (less oil) for the better and not for the worse (more oil and coal). It is also important to understand that not every “alternative” energy solution is altogether good and that there, unfortunately, will not be a deus ex machina solution to this complex problem.

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