July 9, 2007
Al Gore’s Live Earth
Presumes to Save the Planet? Let’s Try Saving Ourselves
There it was, on my computer screen, written out in digitized letters
above the stage:
“Save the planet.”
Save the planet?
looked up into the sky, expecting to see an asteroid big enough to blot
out the sun, driving toward us at the speed of several thousand miles
per second to punch a hole through our atmosphere and crack the planet’s
crust, splitting the thing in two.
There was nothing. Whew.
looked back down to see if the words were still there. They were. Oh
yes, I remember, this is that Al Gore concert.
It’s a pretty ambitious goal for him . . . saving the planet. What are
we saving the planet from, anyway? Ourselves, which makes it even more
Most of us realize that the planet doesn’t really need saving,
especially from ourselves. Most of us are sophisticated enough to
understand that the planet can save itself very well, thank you very
much, and that no mess we leave won’t be cleaned up over the march of
time, and as natural processes reset their own equilibrium. Anything we
do will ultimately be short-lived.
So, why this “Save the planet” business?
don’t know where it comes from. It’s incorrect, but it’s also highly
misleading. No one I know is interested in saving the planet.
Global warming is what prompted Al Gore to help organize Saturday’s
worldwide concert series. But, when you attach the phrase “Save the
Planet” to the issue, you give people the opportunity to misrepresent
the issue by pretending that what you’re after is preventing the boiling
of oceans and the melting of rock.
Well, sir, I’d be happy knowing that I could expect our annual harvests
on the Great Plains, and while we’re on the topic, in my own backyard to
come through every year.
corn? No wheat? No soybeans? The planet has no problem with that. Until
eating falls out of fashion, that could pose certain problems to us.
The same goes for our coastal cities. Will the melting polar ice caps
melt enough to drown Norfolk, Baltimore and Houston? Will it finish the
job on New Orleans? I’d be lying if I said I knew for certain, but I’m
not interested in dismissing the possibility out of hand.
fact, in this case, I’m willing to take a chance. The odds are stacked
heavily against the alternative that I think prudence demands action.
What kind of action? There are certainly some very intriguing ideas on
the table out there. Not all of them involve dismantling industry or
turning over the world economy to socialists.
good place to start is the way we think. We’ve gotten ourselves into
progressively worse trouble over the last couple hundred years, and the
underlying cause always seems to escape us. We think that rules that
apply to every other species don’t apply to us. We don’t act like a
species that’s unlocked some of nature’s secrets through the scientific
method. We act like a species that invented them.
So, it’s not just a matter of treating the symptoms, but of finally
getting to the disease. This should be the final wake-up that it’s no
longer possible to act as though the rules don’t apply to us. Our
thinking needs to become more disciplined according to the way things
work. This doesn’t mean limited, only better disciplined.
Undisciplined thinking . . . it’s given us burning rivers and dead
lakes, extinct species and acid rain. Each time we’re confronted with
these new problems, it’s our first instinct to deny that they exist.
Finally, when all other options are exhausted, we acknowledge them and
find a solution.
And now, today, we find ourselves confronted with the most complicated,
complex problem yet. We’re warming the planet, which means tinkering
with the way the world’s weather patterns operate.
know about crop failures and rising coastlines, but there is also access
to drinking water, outbreaks of disease and massive species extinctions.
Just to name a few.
Yet, there are actually people – a lot of them – who don’t think this is
something that should concern us.
Save the planet? How about let’s save ourselves.
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