FIRE AND RAIN
By Jeff Stark
With apololgies to troubadour James Taylor his song "Fire and Rain" is beginning to sound like a permanent description of our global environmental state. Instead of teenage angst and heartbreak fire and rain today is all about catastrophe and mankind on a rampage against nature. What we are experiencing now is nothing less than wholesale destruction that may finally be totally out of control and will continue to grow, effectively, forever. At least that is what the most influential worldwide group of climate scientists seems to be telling us in its latest report.
The scientific group is known as the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC). According to Google, "The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place." In plain English IPCC is the ultimate authority in creating, funding, reporting and supporting scientific efforts, currently under way and in the future. Their mission, in short: Making climate change a manageable threat.
One of the ways IPCC prepares its annual report and its supporting data is to, over time, report on major issues. This is a way to keep its scientific audience in touch with movements and trends. Not only does this facilitate effective communications to both scientific and lay audiences, it also helps IPCC work and its reports fight through the media clutter that is such a ubiquitous element of modern life.
With all this said, it is no surprise that the recently published, and publicized, IPCC's sixth report focuses on two primary environmental indicators/problems - fire and rain. In one case - fire - we've got too much. With a focus on the Western United States we can learn from the report that our current fire season has so far broken records in virtually every category. However, even a cursory glance at TV news coverage leads to the conclusion that there is no longer a fire "season.". These days giant wildfires burn for weeks, even months and destroy natural ecosystems in the blink of an eye. Everything about wildfires is bigger, worse and unprecedented.
Sadly, we can say much the same things when we look at the state of our planets' water systems and the ways in which our species interacts with this most important natural resource. We have all seen the famous "Bathrub ring" photo at Lake Mead. The difference between the amount of water normally stored in this gigantic reservoir and today's sad state of affairs is impossible to ignore. Even worse are the similar situations around the globe that are not a part of our group consciousness. However, if the rates of water depletion and destruction continue to increase we will all become, sadly, experts in complaining about the then vs. now figures and images of our dry future. One other annoying fact about water is its role as a "force multiplier." Because water is so expensive to pump and process water is always more expeppsive than it seems it should be.
In the final analysis we all know much of what is in the latest IPCC report. What we don't appear to know is how to manage our lives so as to produce a report that features solutions to our fire and rain problems.
WHAT WE CAN DO
The task before us to convert our concern, knowledge and united commitments to action. We know what we are doing to destroy nature. We also know that unless we, as individuals and a society, have two resesrvoirs of knowledge and experience that give us a fighting chance to change the course of future history. We can mend our ways, and mend the damage we have done. However, we need to realize that unless we understand and act on an individual level as well as a societal/global level it may be too little and too late.
To help us get started on an individual level we can check the results of a Bing search on TEN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE TODAY.
To join with groups working in concert try this Bing search on ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION.