Thursday, November 7, 2013


By Charles Snow

When I was a third grader in San Diego in the 1950s, my teacher was Leta Lipp. She was a wonderful teacher who, among other things, taught us how to think about and interact with the natural environment. Ms. Lipp loved the American Indian way of life, and every summer she would spend some of her time visiting the Hopi reservation in Arizona. When she returned to teach in the fall, she would introduce American Indian philosophies and practices to her students in the form of stories and projects (e.g., carving kachina dolls out of balsa wood). Ms. Lipp taught us that the relationship between humans and Mother Nature was sacred. The earth’s God-given resources are precious and should be respected. When someone uses a resource, such as removing a bucket of river water for drinking or killing a buffalo for food, he should not be wasteful. The environment should not be despoiled in any way and should be preserved for future generations. Essentially, Ms. Lipp taught us to be in awe of Mother Nature’s wonders and to do everything we could to preserve them.

If she were alive today, I believe Ms. Lipp would be pleased with the attention the environment has been receiving lately. I’m certain she would be appalled at how we’ve let the environment degrade, and probably she would be angry at the U.S. for being one of the world’s biggest polluters. A few years ago, 65 scientists received a Nobel Prize for summarizing the research done to date and concluding that climate change is real and that it is largely due to the actions of mankind (using fossil fuels for energy, emitting carbon dioxide into the air from automobiles, etc.). A recently released U.N. report, which was held up as scientists agonized over its wording, stated these same conclusions even more forcefully. Just last month, the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development sought to make climate change a higher priority on the global agenda, urging the world to eliminate all emissions from burning fossil fuels sometime in the second half of this century.

Ladies and gentlemen, climate change is a life and death matter! Granted, it is a slow death we are talking about here, but it applies to both the natural environment and the human beings who populate it. So why aren’t more alarms going off – and, more importantly, why aren’t we developing more concerted efforts to do something about climate change? Do we need more studies and more data? Do we actually have to see the glaciers melting in Antarctica or wear gas masks to visit Beijing or Mexico City? Should the U.S. build a crude oil pipeline from Canada across the aquifers in Nebraska so that we Americans can have more gas to burn on our motoring holidays?

Shockingly, there are still “skeptics” and “deniers” among us when it comes to the topic of climate change. How can this possibly be? Would you want to stand up to a Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist and argue that we have nothing to worry about? Yet there are some politicians, bloggers, think tank “scientists”, and average Americans who still aren’t convinced that we are, in fact, cooking the planet. I’m going to honor Leta Lipp by suggesting that each of us do something in our own individual way to improve the environment. The possible actions are limitless: switch to a renewable fuel source; conserve water; buy an electric car (if they ever come to market); vote in politicians who “get it” rather than those who are on the oil industry’s payroll; kick a “denier” in the ass (because he’s slowly killing you with his stupidity); teach your children about the sacredness of our natural resources – you’re capable of coming up with something. Just do it!

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