Since I was a teen in the 1960s, scientists around the globe have been warning us about the effects of climate change and global warming. And, since that time, very little has been done to reduce the causes or to repair the damage brought about by our industrial revolution.
Today, we continue to pollute and there have been only minor efforts to legislate the extraction industries and protectour lands, air, and water, and the health of all the creatures that call Earth home.
Recently, the efforts to deny the damage we are causing have increased, resulting in the repealing of existing laws and rampant denial of any cause and effect science that could help mitigate the damage for our children and grandchildren.
As a young girl growing up in Denver, my parents took us on tours of mines, refineries, and manufacturing plants. It was always a celebration of human accomplishment. Not a word was said about the environmental degradation we were seeing.
Several times we visited the Glory Hole, a massive gold mine in the Rocky Mountains. The environmental degradation of Quartz Hill started at it apex and, by the time it reached its nadir, the mountain was was an inverted hole. Two tons of crushed rock yielded one ounce of gold. It was worth the effort for those who got wealthy off the sweat of workers and the degradation of a stately mountain. As a child I loved the magnitude of the spectacle, but today I cringe at the colossal damage.
The same happens as we continue mining gas, oil, methane, molybdenum, other extractive and consumptive wealth creators, plus the mountains of plastic trash we generate every day. Our water, air, and open spaces have been and continue to be exploited with very little responsibility taken for the effect.
Recently, I read an article that spoke of the words we use to describe what is happening to our home. It turns out that words like “warming” and “change” are rather neutral words that describe things like “changing our shoes” or “warming our homes”. There is no immediacy or threat in those words and so we continue doing what we have always done and only expect our climate to “warm” or “change”.
The truth is, we face more than just change or warming. We face a crisis of proportions we cannot imagine, with emergencies of fire, drought, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, food shortages, toxic air and water, and a die-off of untold species.
The words we choose must reflect the truth we face. To feed the wealthy we have created an environmental crisis and a climate emergency that will take many generations to repair. We must begin now!