October 22, 2019

The Ethics of Climate Change


October 17th 2019 will forever be remembered as the day the city San Antonio drew the line regarding its environmental future.  That day will go down in history as the day SA City Council adopted SA Climate Ready.  SA Climate Ready is a comprehensive plan that takes specific steps to protect and improve our precious natural resources and environment.  As with all well intended initiatives, the plan was immediately ridiculed by opponents.  The Sierra Club, a well respected human and environmental rights organization,criticized it for not going far enough.  Life: Powered,a national initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said the plan destroys more of the environment than it protects and will cost tax payers over $1000 per year.


The facts are in, (drum roll please)! Climate change is the disruption in the long-term seasonal weather patterns. It's caused by global warming. 


The average global temperature has risen around 1 degree Celsius, or 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1880. That’s faster than at any other time in the Earth’s history. Sure, we have had other climate anomalies throughout the history of our great planet.  What makes this one different is that what we are experiencing is the effect of intentional acts committed by human beings.  The greenhouse gases we emit while burning fossil fuels have caused the oceans to become warmer and more acidic.   Immigrants are leaving flooded coastlines, drought-stricken farmlands, and areas of extreme natural disasters. Since 2008, extreme weather has displaced 22.5 million people according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. By 2050, climate change will force 700 million people to emigrate. A 2019 study also revealed that higher temperatures have a negative effect on fish yield globally.  Since 1920, 1.4 million metric tons of fish were lost. In the North Atlantic and Sea of Japan these numbers correlate with a 35% decline in total fish. Many species are threatened with outright extinction. The economics are simple: the 100 billion dollar fishing industry is being decimated and 56 million jobs are at stake!


The same people who argue about national security also believe that greed and self-indulgence should trump climate change (no pun intended).  Those same people want to destroy Bristol Bay, Alaska.  It is home to the largest salmon run in the world and some of the most unique wild life on the planet.  Bristol Bay is also a place where you can still drink water directly from a lake. Why? Many believe the largest gold vein in history lies below the bay which is the size of Lake Erie. Mining is one of the most environmentally damaging activities ever undertaken.   Politicians like Trump and Cruz can’t have it both ways.  Life: Powered is correct!  


There is a cost involved in climate change and we all must pay our fair share.  If the climate change naysayers had any ethical underpinnings they would tell the truth.   Greed is their sole motivation, and they believe climate change only affect the powerless.  San Antonio is an ethical metropolis but the Sierra Club is right that we can and must do better!


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