EDITORIAL | Global warming calls for less dawdling and more attention

By Amanda Finnegan
February 22, 2007

As Americans, instant gratification is our middle name. We want what we want before we even know we want it. When our cell phones are on the fritz, we need them fixed instantly and we expect the body of our dreams after one trip to the gym. We’re impulsive and only care about what directly affects our own lives.

Americans feel the same about the nation’s problems. When our nation experienced the atrocities of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, we immediately wanted a quick fix to cure it all. Because it was right in front of our face, everyone wanted to take action.

But there is a greater problem looming over our heads, a more subtle one that isn’t flaunted in the news every day but still needs just as much attention. It’s global warming and it isn’t just a theory anymore.

Global warming-sounds pretty good right? Longer summers, shorter winters, more sun, less snow. Wrong. Global warming is not just weather change, but complete global climate change and we as human are at fault. It affects everything from wildlife to economics to everyday lifestyle.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released an assessment this month that stated that 90 percent of global warming is a result of human activity, according to Time Magazine. Six hundred scientists from 40 different nations contributed to the assessment.

The issue of global warming is so significant that former Vice President Al Gore has devoted his life-after-politics to the cause. Gore released a documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth” in fall 2006 in hopes to get the world on board with his latest campaign.

Gore is so passionate about global warming that he and Virgin founder Richard Branson started the “Earth Challenge.” The two are offering a $25 million dollar prize to the first person who can come up with a way to eliminate greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If someone is willing to give away an obscene amount of money all in the name of global warming, then maybe we should be taking a second look at what we as a nation and as individuals can do.

Presidential candidates are beginning to make their platforms “green” and even President Bush called for action against global warming in his 2007 State of the Union address. But it is still all talk.

Because global warming does not have an immediate affect on us or people aren’t dying in the streets (yet), we feel as if it is not a pressing matter. If our generation can survive it, then who cares? Let our children and their children deal with it. But just because it isn’t happening like “The Day After Tomorrow” does not mean it isn’t happening at all.

But wait. Think back to September 2005 and people were dying in the streets of New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina was a product of global warming and Gore thoroughly explains that in his documentary. Our nation’s officials didn’t listen to scientists when it came to Katrina. Just imagine the implications if the U.S. refuses to listen once again. The repercussions will be globally catastrophic.

The Kyoto Global Warming Treaty is an international treaty for global climate change that charges the signatory nations to reduce greenhouse gasses. More than 160 nations have signed the treaty; the U.S. refuses. The U.S. generates 23 percent of the world’s green house gases, according to KyotoAndBeyond.com.

We need to tackle global warming before we are in over our heads, literally. “Future generations will think why didn’t our parents wake up when they had the chance?” Gore said. People tend to think that the issue of global warming is too big for us to do anything about but if we don’t start somewhere, we will never get anywhere.

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Amanda Finnegan

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