The Times they are a’ Changin’.
I have always been a strong believer in global warming; it seems a little ridiculous that it is even something one can believe in.
That said, this is the first year that I have truly witnessed and been affected by its changes. Most notably for me, being an avid skier, the winter season has seemingly shifted.
Instead of opening on Thanksgiving, or even before, as was traditional growing up in Colorado, now mountains around the state, and nation as well, are lucky to be fully open by Christmas. In addition, the snow continues to fall well through April and even into the early days of May. In fact, it snowed three inches in the Colorado Rockies just last weekend (May 11-13).
However, this shift has had far more reaching consequences then disturbing my turns. The later snows combined with the early summer heat has caused flooding across the country. From the local regions like Estes Park and Boulder Canyon, all the way to Arkansas and Oklahoma, the threat of flooding has seemingly never been more prevalent. The frequency is ridiculous and the danger absurd; the flooding of the Little Missouri alone has killed 20 people and left several more dozens missing. In my young life I can never remember such a summer.
Nevertheless, the question is what is to be done? Our planet is seemingly falling apart at the seems; in the past decade we have experienced the single worst natural disaster in the history of our country and are now currently enduring, one of, if not the worst environmental disaster in the history of the entire world. Although Obama has taken a strong pro-green stance in his first year as president, pursuing an aggressive climate and energy plan in which he hopes to reduce US emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, partially though investing $150 billion dollars into clean energy resources.
Nonetheless, in order to make real progress this same level of commitment must be made on an international level. The Kyoto Protocol, which was signed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 to stimulate international cooperation in stabilizing the levels of greenhouse gasses within the atmosphere, runs out in 2012. Therefore, in 2009 the organization held a convention in Copenhagen to begin the process of creating a new agreement to combat global warming. This convention, however, yielded little tangible progress, as an agreeable level of limitations set upon a country’s emissions, and therefore industrial capabilities, could not be reached. For while more developed nations like the United States are more partial to such pro-environmental industrial limitations, due to the fact they already possess such a modernized and efficient economy, poorer nations, need industrial booms to stabilize their economies and enable them to compete in the world markets. With strict limitations placed upon the industrial sectors of their economy, they will continue to float in the rough waters of international mediocrity and widespread domestic poverty.
While this article has focused on global warming, I believe that the key in altering our fate is globalization and making our national economies so internationally interdependent, that the only option is one of cooperation. If these young developing countries were given selfless international aid in the form of money, technology, and vocational education (not political assimilation) not only would could these countries develop their own products and economy, but also, they would open vast markets for other states around the world to invest and grow. All the while, if a level of cooperation was reached where there was an open availability of technology; modern, more environmentally sound, and efficient equipment could be used to progress these economic situations, at last bringing the fight of global warming to a truly global scale. One thing is for certain, humanity cannot continue on this path for long. I believe that the realist model of politics must be put aside in this fight for the Earth, and in doing so; we just may discover our common interests far outweigh our sometimes conflicting cultures. As Bob Dylan once so adequately put it: “you better start swimming or sink like stone, for the times they are a-changing”.
John Spina currently attends the University of Vermont in Burlington where he will graduate with a double major in history and political science in 2011.
He writes sports for the school paper, the Vermont Cynic, as well as publishes weekly articles in the Mountain Ear, a local Nederland paper, and works as an Intern for the Elephant Journal. He loves spending time doing anything and everything outdoors with his dog, McKinley, and loves being home in Colorado working for the summer.
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