by Alton C. Thompson
The July 6 – 13 issue of Time magazine includes “53 pages of answers,” divided into eight categories, one which is titled “Questions we should be asking.” In that section we find the following questions:
- What is the best job in America?
- Why don’t we have a cure for the common cold?
- What are my risk factors?
- What could America’s $18 trillion debt buy?
- What should I order?
- How does art work?
Oh, and there is also this question:
- Am I hurting the planet?
The page on the “planet” question offers some useful facts regarding the number of pounds of CO2 associated with various activities (per year in the U. S.):
- 7 Having a beer (“the ingredients, electricity and transportation”).
- 379 Running the dishwasher.
- 6 Answering email.
However, I suspect that any reader of Nature Bats Last will regard all seven of the above questions as trivial, and will especially wonder why there is not a question about global warming. Time, in an article dated June 18, discussed Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment. That article had said, for example:
Francis’ vision for change is comprehensive. He addresses the challenges of food production due to uncontrolled fishing. He reminds readers that migrants are forced to flee poverty induced by environmental degradation but are not recognized internationally as refugees. He offers a corrective to past theological interpretations that say that God gave humanity dominion over the earth and challenges the idea that humanity should be the center of concern when it comes to the Earth’s future. He calls out the failures big business, politicians, and international summits.
Thus, it is rather surprising that the current issue of the magazine makes no reference to global warming—especially given that nothing that is occurring at present is as important as global warming!
Of course, the question about “hurting the planet” implies that global warming is occurring. It also implies, though, that:
- Because human actions (such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation activities) are, and have been, “hurting the planet” (by causing global warming), then a reduction in those human activities will solve the problem.
- Our “hurting of the planet” is just that, and has no relevance for our well-being (or survival, for that matter!).
By “talking around the edges of” global warming it trivializes global warming; and in doing that, it fails to inform the reader that:
- Global warming is an extremely serious problem.
- So serious a problem, in fact, that it is likely to lead to the extinction of our species “soon” (by, e.g., 2030?).
Given the strong possibility that our species may not be much longer, rather than one answering the trivial question “Am I hurting the planet?,” one should (a) “face the music” about the future, and (b) ask oneself: “What, that would be worthwhile, should I do with the rest of my life?
The fact that Time does not take seriously is not surprising: It’s a business (like the energy production business), and doesn’t want to confront the future in any meaningful way; as a business, making money in the short-term is what it’s all “about”! End of story!
 Noted British climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson (Deputy Director of the Tyndal Centre), In a devastating speech “at the University of Bristol Tuesday November 6th, 2012, accused too many climate scientists of keeping quiet about the unrealistic assessments put out by governments, and our awful odds of reaching global warming far above the proposed 2 degree safe point.” The media must also, however, be blamed for failing to report on the research done by climate scientists.