AS I RODE MY BIKE through the rain this morning, my jeans and shoes becoming increasingly drenched, I thought about a news article I read yesterday. The Associated Press piece discussed the link between “global warming and global peace,” spurred by statements made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Prize:
“Climate change is and will be a significant threat to our national security and in a larger sense to life on Earth as we know it to be,” retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, former U.S. Army chief of staff, told a congressional panel last month.
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee agrees. In awarding the prize Friday to climate campaigner Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-sponsored network of scientists, the Norwegian committee said the stresses of a changing global environment may heighten the “danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.”
Those like Sullivan who study the issues point particularly to the impact of drought and altered climate patterns on food and water supplies, leading to shortages that could spur huge, destabilizing migrations of people internationally.
The large majority of us in developed nations live as though we are independent from our environment – myself included. It’s cold? Turn up the heat. It’s raining? Take the car. It hasn’t rained for a while? Use the hose to water the grass.
But we shouldn’t fool ourselves. However disaffected we may feel about melting sea ice, we must acknowledge that we are inseparably linked to our surroundings – to the changing seasons, to the quality of our water, to strength of the sun’s rays. Indeed, there may be a day not far in the future when the problems “out there” follow us into the house.
While ruminations on how nature and man are invariably linked coming from a guy in Wisconsin who’s still wearing damp socks might not bring home anything new for readers, I would encourage you to read an in-depth article published by the International Herald Tribune today. Journalist Joseph Kahn focuses on how the souring of a once-scenic Chinese lake has had real effects on the local community – (they were without drinking water for days because of algae blooms) – and how one man’s fight against pollution has nearly ruined him. Reading through the story I thought to myself, There is nothing abstract about this – we cannot continue to live the status quo.