Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Friday, September 16, 2011

I’m Afraid My Child’s Got Cancer

I’ve consulted 100 doctors.  97 say it’s cancer, and her only chance is to start treatment immediately.  Two aren’t sure.  One says the others all just want my money.

So what do I do now?

Well, what would you do, if you faced this hypothetical crisis?  Maybe you’d wait till the three holdouts agree with the near-unanimous diagnosis.  After all, why should you put your little girl through all this when “the science isn’t settled?”

And have you seen the cost of cancer treatments lately?  In times like these, who can even talk about incurring these costs, especially when there’s doubt about whether she’s sick in the first place?

Okay, okay then. Maybe I’ll just give her chicken soup for another year.

Really???  You’re thinking, of course, that I’m nuts.  Someone else should have custody of my child.  Who would ever sacrifice the most precious things on earth – their children – to save a little money, justified by a thin veneer of scientific doubt?

Who would?  We would, that’s who.

That’s right.  We would.  Just look at the warnings we’re getting about the future of the earth's ecosystems.  97 of 100 climate scientists agree that the earth’s climate is changing dangerously due to human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning oil and coal, as confirmed in a 2009 peer-reviewed Univ. of Illinois survey of 3,146 earth scientists.

Warning! Ralph Cicerone, Pres. of Nat'l Acad. of Science
Not satisfied with 97% of climatologists?  Okay, then how about the U.S. National Academy of Sciences?  This august body was established by Abraham Lincoln, precisely because political leaders need expert scientific advice.  Last year, they issued the following warning: 

“There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.  Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence.”
Still opting for chicken soup?  What if all the Academies of Science from all the developed countries got together and issued a combined, comprehensive and urgent warning about human-caused climate change?  Now that would be convincing, wouldn’t it?

Well, they did.

In May 2009, the National Academies of developed-world-leading G8 countries, plus five other major countries, published a joint statement.  “The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable,” they said. And then they confirmed what people like me dreaded to hear:

"Climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated; global CO2 emissions since 2000 have been higher than even the highest predictions, Arctic sea ice has been melting at rates much faster than predicted, and the rise in the sea level has become more rapid. Feedbacks in the climate system might lead to much more rapid climate changes."
But despite all these warnings, none of the nine Americans who want to be our President for the next four years are willing to take a stand to save our children from the dire consequences the scientists are warning us about.  For starters, the GOP and its oil & coal financiers have virtually blacklisted anyone who doesn’t blindly deny the overwhelming evidence regarding climate change (see my last post on this).  And our Democratic President, while speaking eloquently about the threat of climate change, has repeatedly backed down in the face of pressure from the polluters, and is even now poised to approve the massive Keystone XL tars sands pipeline, linking our economy to the filthiest fuel on the planet for a generation.

Some people just aren't listening.  And CO2 continues it's steady march.

So the politicians are willing to settle for chicken soup for your sick child.  But you aren’t.

Are you?

You know, you can do something. You can help stop the Tar Sands Pipeline (here). You can pull out your electric bill, and schedule an energy audit of your home with your utility, or do your own (here). You can write your congressperson (here or the President (here) and demand action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And you can start talking to your friends and co-workers.

It’s time to get serious.  You see, this is like your child’s got cancer.

Thanks for doing something, and may God bless your efforts.

J. Elwood

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