Imagine a future where the air is literally toxic, the land ceases to bare safe food, and even the water will kill you. This is a place of nightmares, a world of biological decimation. Folks chat about it, we discuss how far off this future is and we talk about how much we should care.
But there is a (if I may) dirty little secret to this talk and that is that it is already happening. China is showing us that it doesn’t matter if Climate Change is real or not (it is) because the effects of man on the environment can easily be so extreme that they can make areas uninhabitable.
Not in 5 years, not in 10 years, they can make areas inhabitable right now.
Crops are dying because of pollution, waterways becoming toxic, and even some cities and towns being abandoned. Yet industry moves on, plumes of smoke billow into the sky, toxic waste churns into the water supply, and mercury, lead, and other chemicals leach into the very bodies of the people, plants, and animals.
This is not an issue of weather patterns, of shaky science, these are the things we can literally taste in the air. The pollutants don’t merely float along in China and respect borders, they cross nations, seas, and even oceans. China is not the only one at fault either, industrialization is literally murdering ecosystems.
This is the Gulf of Mexico, what you are looking at is Oxygen levels in the Gulf. In the dark blue areas you have fish happy and jolly then the green areas are a bit uncomfortable but otherwise you manage (kinda like living in California). The yellow areas though, that starts to be mighty uncomfortable, difficult to breath and frankly you aren’t a happy fish.
You know what you get in that red area? You get dead, a big heaping helping of dead.
That red stretches across 3 states, and do you know what caused it? Not weather patterns, not shaky science, no this was caused by industrialization. In this case synthetic fertilizers in farms along the Mississippi river. The nitrogen runs off into the river, the river runs off into the Gulf, and then the water becomes a huge plume of Plankton. A giant orgy of plankton just enjoying life.
Then those plankton die, and now you have a ginormous organism (effectively) that needs to decay. Bacteria roll in and start eating away at the corpses and in doing so they suck oxygen out of the air. What you are left with is called a Dead Zone.
This isn’t 5 years from now, this isn’t 10 years from now, and what is worse is that all of the things mentioned so far are entirely fixable and easier (and cheaper in many cases) than sending an army to a different country. Seeing as we’ve sent our military to 5 separate countries, I think we could work this into the schedule.
China too has no excuse, as does no place.
I’ll close with Mercury and a bit about parenting.
How does mercury get into my drinking water?
The major sources of mercury in drinking water are erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills; and runoff from croplands.
They give you four methods of Mercury ending up in your water, notice a theme with three of them? These are the results of laziness and industrialization (but I might be repeating myself). There is a reason there is a warning on fresh water fish about Mercury. People see it and, I presume, just giggle and throw it into the cart.
Why do I assume this? Because if everyone thought like I did I imagine they’d be infuriated that they can’t buy some freaking Tuna without it half fish half iron man.
This should not be the case, we should not see more than a few specs of blue. But instead we see green and yellow… Mercury is not something that leaves the food chain either. It stays in animals, with each step up the food chain ending up with more Mercury than the step below it (this being easy enough to explain, large animals require large amounts of energy and when they eat a lot of small animals with mercury in them they keep the net mercury they ingested).
Part of the magic of this is coal plants. As far as I’m aware its one of the largest sources of mercury in fresh water because the process of burning coal literally throws mercury into the freaking sky. Then it settles back down to earth either directly into fresh water, or onto land beside it, or eventually will be washed down into it.
All paths lead to water at some point.
I suppose my closing thought is this. If you are not adamantly for clean energy, just balls to the walls for it. If you are not voting for these things, supporting these things, and being willing to pay taxes for these things, you hate your kids.
You might think “That’s bullshit! I love my kids!” But ask yourself this question: How would I feel if I knew my parents knowingly let my food and water be poisoned just to make life a tiny bit cheaper and more convenient for them?
How would that make you feel? How would it feel to know that your parents cared so little for your future that they literally placed no bets on you. How would it feel to know that your health and the health of your own kids in the not-to-distance future mean less to them than the price of gas?
Would you call that love? Would someone who loves someone else let this happen to them? I think not. I want to be able to look at my future children and feel proud of the decisions I’ve made, of the beliefs I hold, and of my ability to hold their life above my own immediate greed.
I don’t think anyone who thinks otherwise should be allowed to call themselves a responsible parent. I don’t think anyone otherwise should even be able to look in the mirror without feeling dirty.
And if this mindset of cheap now without concern for later continues, people literally won’t be able to look in the mirror without feeling dirty.