Friday, March 23, 2001
A call to more environmentally responsible lives
Bill McKibben, well-known environmentalist and author (The End of Nature is published in 20 languages), talked at the First Religious Society on Sunday, March 18. He challenged people to lead more environmentally responsible lives. McKibben cited convincing scientific studies showing that the production of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming, which "is now the single most important issue of our time." He exhorts us to "stop putting ourselves at the center of the universe" and to carry on this fight the way we fought against fascism and for civil rights in the past.
McKibben stated numerous undesirable effects of global warming and made some dire predictions. The expected increase in temperature this century of between four and six degrees F. (possibly 11 degrees) will make the world even stormier and full of drought than today. Every glacier in the world is already retreating, and the polar ice caps are melting. All of the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro will have melted in 15 years, and Glacier National Park will be gone in 30 years. The world's coral reefs will die out in 50 years due to thermal effects. Water expands as it warms, which will cause the ocean level to rise by a foot over the next 50 years. Low-lying areas such as Bangladesh, already half water, are being flooded causing massive hardship.
According to McKibben, messages on TV promoting consumerism try to convince us that our happiness is the most important thing on earth. We have built a self-centered utopia based on economic success, but in the process we are destroying the beauty and balance of the natural world. McKibben says, "The world is not always as we see it through our lenses. There is a force larger than us."
McKibben states that symbols of man's disregard for nature include big houses and cars. SUVs, compared to other cars, waste more CO2 in one year than an open refrigerator door in six years. He encourages the public to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or to join the prayer in Washington, DC in May, by contacting the Religious Witness for the Earth, Box 642, Littleton MA 01460 (www.religiouswitness.org).
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