One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to meet new people and discuss their feelings on important issues. I spent some time in Jamaica debating the impact of climate change with my host, Jim Boydston. He pointed out that erosion is taking its toll along the seven-mile beach. He explained that he felt that nature handles this in its own way and that the impact of man on the climate is insignificant.
I can see how he may feel that way living in Jamaica, where the sun always shines and the temperature is always warm but the facts of climate change are inescapable. Consider the lifecycle of our planet, it that it is measured in thousands and millions of years. Then consider the short period of time–less than 200 years–that we have reached a population level that is straining our planet’s resources and an even shorter period of time in which we have been burning the million-year storage of fossil fuels and pushing carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. We are simultaneously cutting down huge tracts of forests that act as a CO2 filter. There is nothing natural about this–this is a man-made phenomena that a vast majority of scientists in the world agree is the cause of global warming.
The slow train that is heading our way as the climate changes will impact us all. This is slow change from the perspective of your life and mine but is extraordinary change when you consider it as part of the history of the planet. Melting ice caps, an Arctic Ocean passage, changes in animal behavior and conflict over the dwindling supply of fossil fuel energy will all combine to radically change our planet.
When I first talked about global warming in Kibbles & Bytes, nearly a decade ago, I was accused of being an alarmist and that global warming was somehow a political issue. Times change and only fringe politicians or scientists deny the clear evidence that not only is our planet warming significantly but that this warming is not a natural cycle of the planet but rather man-made. My friend in Jamaica is correct: Mother Nature will adjust accordingly, but those adjustments might be very uncomfortable. Vast areas of the planet may become uninhabitable, creating political and social conflict over increasingly scarce resources on a crowded planet.
It is only through our efforts that we might have a opportunity to stem the tide of climate change. It is past time to get serious about addressing climate change, carbon emissions and the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. A vast program of development of renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro power would be a good first step. Building cleaner and more efficient forms of transportation is another. Conservation and efficiency is the low hanging fruit in the battle against climate change. The future of our children and grandchildren is in our hands.
Pollution of our watersheds, landfills and oceans is another important treat to our planet that is caused by the vast increases in population over the past few centuries. Yesterday, Small Dog Electronics did its part by hosting (in honor of upcoming Earth Day) our Second Annual (free) eWaste Recycling Event at our South Burlington store. We were fortunate to have some committed partners in this event both for funding and for providing dozens of volunteers, namely Ben & Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Seventh Generation, Chittenden Bank and Good Point Recycling.
Last year we collected over 50 tons of electronic waste in four hours. This year, all expectations were that we will exceed that amount (early numbers are showing over double that!). We have a small bet going here as to how much we will collect, and we’ll let you know the final numbers next week.