Although I grew up in a place that is considered to be very forward-thinking, throughout my day to day operations, I was not too environmentally conscious. Although I was taught not to litter and recycle whenever I could, the environment and state of the planet earth were not on the fore front of my mind...until last night, when I watched "Too Hot to Not Handle," a great HBO documentary (made post-Hurricane Katrina) demonstrating in basic language and visuals with scientific evidence how global warming effects the earth and how we are contributing to its' destruction.
Out of all of the conferences, lectures, and forums that I've been to, original people, and specifically Black folks are not talkin' about the planet! We do not seem to be in on the discussion, understandably so, due to dealing with life on life terms. It's a discussion that we don't make time for, and we play it off, sayin' "That shit is for tree-huggers, hippies, granola eaters, etc," and don't really give it a second thought. But the very places we call home are suffering due to our carelessness.
The Black woman has been mistreated, abused, and used, and so has the planet. If the Black woman is suposed to be the home of the Black man, she should be treated with respect and appreciation, and so should our home, the planet. As a person striving to be the Earth, it is important that I and other sisters and brothers know what is happening on the physical planet, good and bad, and that I at least educate myself more about the conditions that effect our world, which effect me, and you in very practical ways (Case in Point: Hurricane Katrina). Below, I have posted my notes on the documentary, and if you have On Demand, you should be able to view it (go to On Demand, Premium Channels, HBO, then the Documentaries section). Do the knowledge and apply what you can. Only we can get ourselves out of this mess we've created.
"Too Hot Not to Handle"
We are addicted to energy and a lifestyle of consuming and wasting
The United States uses more energy than any other country in the world. The U.S. is 5% of the world population but contributes 25% of carbon dioxide emissions. Molecules of CO2 that go up into the atmosphere remain for about 100 years. The Industrial Age brought about wealth and a certain standard of living and comfort. But by burning coal, oil, and gas, this also brought about global warming. Global warming is similar to the greenhouse effect. There is anbundance of poisonous emissions (namely carbon dioxide) due to how we use energy. These gases block the energy transferrence between earth and space. Heat from the sun is absorbed by the earth and instead of it rising and leaving the atmosphere, it is trapped, like a blanket covering the planet, increasing the temperature.We (humans, ecosystems, biosphere) are adapted to the current climate we have and will not be prepared to address the gradual and severe changes due to global warming
Effects of Global Warming
Increase in extreme climate and weather events
a) The heat warms up the ocean, which increases evaporation. More water goes up into the atmosphere causing more rain. Moderate rains have decreased, and heavy rains have increased, which will lead to more floods, which will flush water from sanitation into clean water supply
b) Droughts will become more common. The increased heat bakes the moisture out of soil, which effects the agriculture and water supply.
c) Snowpacks (the snow you see on mountains) In western states, 75% of the water supply comes from snow packs. States that rely on snowpacks for water produce 75% of the nations' fresh fruit. If its' too warm in the winter the snow melts early into the rivers at the wrong time and man made water storage facilities cannot hold it, therefore it is wasted. No water; no trees. Since 1950, the spring snowpack has declined as much as 60%
Forest Fires- just need a combination of heat, drought, and dead trees
Extinction- there has been large scale damage to coral reefs. Causes species to move from where they are, and if they cannot move, they die because they are not able to adjust to the changing climate. By the end of the century, an estimated 1/4 of plant and animal species will be extinct due to global warming.
Tropical Diseases-i.e. West Nile Virus in NYC (1999). Bugs that don't thrive in the winter multiply because of the increased temperature (thrive in heat). Bugs bite bugs that bite humans (i.e. mosquitos).
Heat Waves- the greatest weather-related killer in the U.S. In Chicago in 1995, one week of a heat wave that approached 106 degrees farenheit killed 800 people. In 2003, a heat wave in Europe killed 6,000 people in Germany, 14,000 in France and 19,000 in Italy.
Increased Pollen Production-Carbon dioxide makes plants grow, but also contributes to global warming. Produces an increase in weeds, specifically ragweed, which produces more pollen, which causes more hay fever, conjunctivitis, and asthma flare ups. CO2 also makes the ragweed stronger, so it develops a resistance to herbicide. To continue to kill the ragweed, would have to use a more concentrated form of herbicide, which costs more financially and environmentally.
Melting Alaska- Alaska is the frontline of global warming. While the world warmed 1 degree Farenheit in the last 50 years, Alaska warmed by 5 degrees. Doesn't sound drastic but imagine if your body temperature permanently rose from 98.6 to 103.6. You wouldn't last long. As ice melts, the dark hard land underneath absorbs the heat from the sun, which continues to melt the area, creating a self-reinforcing cycle. Showed comparative pictures of 50-100 years ago and the present. For example, Menindenhall (sp?) Lake used to be a large glacier (at least 100 feet tall) 100 years ago. Melting of glaciers end up in the global ocean, which raises the sea level. The ocean is like a tub of water. If you put ice cubes in the tub, it rises. Heat it, and it will expand and rise. The rising sea level will eat away the coast. Parts of the east, west, and gulf coast will be lost to rising sea level. In parts of Florida, they're having to put more sand on the beach to hold water back. Over 1/2 of U.S. residents live within 50 miles of the ocean. Since 1970, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have nearly doubled. The average hurricane generates over 2 trillion watts of power. As the ocean warms, the intensity of the hurricanes will increase.
How to Change
-Remember to turn your lights out, be mindful of wasting water (i.e. letting the shower run while your're getting your towels and soap together), don't leave your car on longer than it has to be, purchase lighter, fuel efficient cars (i.e. hybrids, which use a combination of electricity and gas).
-The U.S. spends 10% of its' fuel idling at stoplights. If everyone switched to hybrids, that would be the equivalent of removing 100 million cars off the road. Use ethanol gas whenever you can find it (an alcohol fuel made from corn or anything with starch or cellulose (woodchips, switchgrass, things considered waste products)). Every gallon of corn ethanol that replaces a gallon of gasoline reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 15%.
-Use biodiesel (made from vegetable oil or waste products) whenever you can. Every gallon that replaces regular diesel reduces greenhouse gases by 78%.
-Need replacement for coal. More than 50% of electricity we generate comes from coal. Its' cheap and abundant, B.U.T. it produces the most carbon dioxide for the amount of energy you get out of it. Dangerous to the atmosphere.
-Need federal envirnomentally conscious endorsement, legislation, policies, and accountability measures, especially for corporations and businesses, where the focus is cost efficiency, but are not environmentally sound.
-180 U.S. cities made a formal commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. Case in point: Portland, Oregan (since 1993). They have reduced their carbon emissions by 13% and increased the workforce by 16%. They use flex cars (mostly hybrid cars that you can rent on the street for a couple hours to encourage more bicycle riding, walking, and public transportation to decrease the number of cars on the road). Even a pizza business uses hybrid vehicles for delivery, since a lot of CO2 emissions are created during short trips around the city. They instated the Greenbuilding Policy, which means that in order to use public funds, you have to be in compliance with the standards stated in the policy. If not, you don't get funded. Buildings also share energy and use recycled energy, which keeps the energy bills low. Environmentally sound and cost efficient!
-Each year in the U.S., 57 million trees are used to make catalogs...use recycled paper!
-Use locally grown fruit. The average piece of food in U.S. travels 1500 miles from farms to business, which uses more fossil fuel and refrigeration time, which uses more energy and causes more CO2 emissions.
Alternatives to Carbon Based Energy
Solar Power (to power the U.S., it would only take solar reflectors 100 miles on each side of the Mohave' Desert). Solar Power Plants (California)
Wind Power (Texas)
By using new and innovative alternatives, this would create new industry, money making opportunities, businesses and jobs.