(HOST) Commentator Ruth Page suggests that we should have taken advice from Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen and started running much sooner in order to keep ahead of the dangers from greenhouse gas.
(PAGE) When Alice in Wonderland goes through the looking-
glass, she meets the Red Queen, who grabs her hand and starts running like the wind. When they stop, Alice points out that they’re right where they started. In Alice’s country, when you run you get somewhere. “A slow sort of country,” says the Queen. “Here,” she says, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
That’s a lesson the U.S. hasn’t learned, so far as earth-warming goes. Back in 1950, few anywhere in the world thought about it; but from that date on, one Charles Keeling kept track of the rise in CO2, a greenhouse gas that warms earth and ocean; and he reported its steady climb, year by year. Scientists explained the dangers and predicted a future of changes in rainfall, increasing danger from serious storms, risks to plant and animal life as their habitats warmed, chance of fires from unusual droughts, harsh effects on ocean life — including the precious corals vital to so many life-forms — and other disturbances. All these disasters are happening.
After some two thousand climatologists and other scientists agreed the warming was taking place, and humans were at least part of the cause, many nations faced the facts. They signed a treaty, the Kyoto protocol. They agreed to reduce their emissions from fossil fuel use to the level of 1990, and some are going even further.
The United States, however, refused to sign. We claimed it would have a bad effect on our economy — it could hurt us in the pocket-book. Never mind that the risk of floods and droughts might cost much more than the price of conservation. We kept trying to find more oil, threatening long-protected natural areas such as conserved forests and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We’re still not stressing conservation at the federal level, though some cities and states are taking steps to do so. Nation-wide, polls show that most Americans agree earth is warming, and favor conservation. We’ve been buying gas-saving cars from foreign countries, such as Japan’s Toyota Prius, because we couldn’t find any created in America, though that may be starting to change.
Like the Red Queen, we should have started to run thirty or forty years ago in order to stay about where we were at that time, when fossil fuels were not so costly.
It may be too late to play catch-up, but we should be trying. Our government should be offering major incentives to car manufacturers to make much more fuel-efficient vehicles, as they know how to do. It should be offering drivers and home-owners super incentives to save energy in any safe way they can. In short, our government should be worried.
This is Ruth Page.