Harbinger of the future is here

Winona, Missouri

Thank you for Stephen Hesse’s insightful Aug. 26 article, “If we ruin the air, what will our children breathe?” Here in Missouri the drought of 2012 continues to oppress both farmer and rancher across the state. Rural water wells are going dry! Major cities are asking residents to refrain from watering their lawns or washing their cars. It is a drought unlike any other the Midwestern states have seen since weather records started being kept.

Why is mankind waiting until the tipping point — the threshold of irreparable atmospheric damage — to consider changing energy consumption policies and seek alternative greener energy sources? Obviously Big Oil, Big Auto, and Big Insurance does not want the American consumer to embrace public transportation.

Here is a somewhat technical book that is worth reading: “Storms of My Grandchildren: the Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity,” by NASA Goddard Institute professor James Hansen. “Head-in-the-sand” politicians have been telling scientists like Hansen for the past four decades that their predictions are unreliable — that it’s all just leftwing socialism and scare science. But our grandchildren and their children will curse us for our failure to act with appropriate urgency to stem the rising levels of carbon dioxide emissions in the global atmosphere. Greenhouse gases will be the death knell of so many species, possibly even whale populations, as entire food chains in the oceans are destroyed. Droughts will cause food prices to skyrocket, spelling starvation for the very poor.

We may look back on the year 2012 as almost “normal” compared with mega-droughts of the future when there’s been no significant rainfall in a region for two or three years! We need an environmental czar whose word is law, as environmental regulation doesn’t seem to work very well in a democracy. People demand their selfish conveniences over sustainability. Most of us don’t care about global warming in the short term; older people just shrug and say, “I won’t be here when global warming really hits home.”

I think it all began in the 19th century when America’s pioneers clear-cut all the original old hardwood forests — from the Ohio Valley to the Mississippi River and beyond. Forests that were thousands of years old disappeared in 40 years! Such vast tracts of green forests helped to cool the Earth and sustain life. … Thankfully the university students with Hesse in San Diego are largely ignorant of such things. Living in the moment might be best.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

robert mckinney