Tuesday, November 27, 2007
CAN WE STILL SAVE THE PLANET?
Today I received an email with a question from a friend. This blog is my attempt to answer it.
If you can, would you please share your thoughts on the following matter: James Lovelock, scientist who promoted the Gaia theory years ago and whose latest book (I think) is The Revenge of Gaia really surprised and disappointed me by advocating immediate use of nuclear powerplants as the only possible means to "buy time" for cutting back on emissions that are speeding global warming. He claims that no other current technology can be established fast enough in effective numbers to stop the race to oblivion (my words). I was so surprised that he seemingly disregards the potential grave dangers of nuclear waste because he feels we're almost at the point of no return. He also cites the supposedly flawless or near flawless operation of French nuclear power plants. Any thoughts? Anyplace I can find someone that has "proof" that we can really do something "now" or just as effectively to provide alternative forms of electricity to offset reliance on nuclear power?
I think what Dr. Lovelock is saying is that we may have passed the point of no return -- or if you accept a slightly more optimistic view-- we may be 20 years from the point of no return. The degradation of the planet through a multitude of practices -- and especially global warming --- will reach the spot where it is -- for our practical means, irreversible. Obviously what is being done now by even more enlightened nations, e.g. Sweden and Germany is not sufficient. The United States and, now, China will clearly cancel out the good being done by the aforementioned two countries and a few others. And I do NOT believe Science -- our present Almighty God -- will be able to Save Earth and its inhabitants.
Naturally, the more we in the U.S. and elsewhere, "put off biting the bullet" -- ensures that we will pass even the last checkpoint to correct things. After that the planet's natural systems will be in an irrevocable pattern of self destruction.
Why have we not awakened? It's the same usual suspects: the irresponsible "infotainment" media, world wide savage capitalism -- and democracy itself. These three entities form an interlocking whole -- with capitalism being the major force -- by far.
Does our government put out through television, radio and newspapers the real situation as seen by the vast majority of reputable, sane, and professional scientists? No! Corporacracy would complain that there is not enough proof and cite "scientists" who agree with them. The conservative right would complain about "big brother". The media would be siding with these two and be publishing profitable ads decrying the alarmism of liberal environmental-nut scientists. There would be many articles appearing in the media written by those who espouse the totally non-realistic "ostrich" position. Most of these experts will be subsidized by self-centered corporations.
For me, it is impossible to see that the world will wake up and do something seriously radical enough to offset the decline of the planet and all of us -- not just the usual endangered species. This awakening would take, IMO, at least fifty if not a hundred years. After fifty -- there will be NOTHING that can be done but apply totally inadequate brakes to the spiraling dissolution of life as we know it.
You ask, I think, isn't there some technology available now that if immediately and vigorously applied could save us and the Earth.
Answer: Not that I have heard about! Wind power; thermal energy; solar energy etc. will not do the job. It's too late. They will help, i.e. delay doomesday The thing and the attitude we really need is CONSERVATION. We need to change our life styles. We need to buy less; consume less; throw away less. Become more attuned to the Earth. Think of ourselves as analog rather than digital; organic rather than synthetic; dwell in actual reality versus virtual reality.
To do this seems to be "UnAmerican". We have set the example for much of the third world that has resulted in many of these people wanting to realize the "American Dream" --- the highest "standard of living" conceivable. As though the result will be an earthly paradise --- whereas this dream will result in the nightmare of life's end-- at least as we know it. We will be gone; other species also. The Universe will not die. Our Earth's past history will disappear since there will be no one to recall it. Eventually life forms, perhaps similar to ours will eventually evolve. Maybe not . How can we tell the Chinese not to pollute -- not to want two or three cars, and at least one SUV; air conditioning; Las Vegas; DisneyWorld, etc. It's seems hypocritical.
Americans tend to think that we can do anything we set our minds to do. It just take ideas, money and will. NOT SO! Not always so. We have over the last two centuries chose standard of living rather than quality of life. Now --- we probably will have NEITHER.
Conservation; renewable energy; a drastic change of life style, values and attitudes are what is required to save us from ourselves. Capitalism will not permit it because it by definition serves the immediate goals of its major shareholders>>> MAXIMUM PROFIT QUICKLY. The people of the First World will not have the will nor the enlightenment needed to see the handwriting on the wall. They will be ill-served by our crass, third rate and biased main stream media which answers primarily not to imagined bogeyman of the LEFT -- but to the real monster of worldwide capititalism. Back in 1965 I heard Ralph Nader tell an audience at nearby Walsh College that the greatest danger to the United States (and, IMO, to the world) was not Communism---but capitalism both globalized and gone wild.
Ralph is usually correct, and this, certainly, was no exception. BTW, he raised irate protest from "patriotic" American in the audience, who believed that capitalism and democracy were really one and the same thing--and American as Apple Pie.
When Lovelock says that we need to move quickly forward with the nuclear option, it is not because he favors nuclear power, but because he believes the possible (probable) "accidents" resulting from this power source are of little consequence when compared with the DEATH of EARTH. And, I think, he is absolutely correct.
I remember forty years ago there was much talk of using the nuclear fusion method of producing power rather than the nuclear fission approach which is used today. Then we realized that fusion was much, much less dangerous and equally efficient as fission. However, it was not pursued. Why? Because fission was available. Corporations wanted to build the plants and realize profits. Energy companies saw dollar signs. Governments wanted to be on the cutting edge, but felt they could not (or did not want to) wait for the research into fusion.
And dollars for the necessary research into SANE nuclear power was not there, certainly no where near what it would take.
Nuclear fusion is still being reserarched and developed. Apparently despite the lack of paltry investment --- coming close to a reality.
If you are interested, here is one site to check: http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/faqs/faq5.html
It seems as though the Europeans are behind most of this progressive research. But, the Europeans seem to be ahead of the U.S. in many areas involving a human world.
If you are interested, here is one site to check this site.
If you are interested in more about Professor James Lovelock, go to the following site:
It seems as though the Europeans are behind most of this progressive research. But, the Europeans seem to be ahead of the U.S. in many areas involving the preservation of a humane world society.