Friday, April 14, 2017

Great Barrier Reef in Critical Condition, Perhaps Humanity's First Major Test Before Extinction

We keep hearing about this truly horrible story, which seems to be slowly developing, although that is actually quite deceptive. This has been a real tragedy in the making, and of an epic scale.

The Great Barrier Reef just off the coast of Australia is dying, and some scientists are even calling it dead already.

The thing is, the reef is the oldest and largest living organism in the world, and by far, at that. To think that this incredible wonder of the world - the only living organism that can actually be seen from space - is dying, and at an unbelievably fast pace, should be enough to make the entire world stand up and take notice.

Frankly, if we were wise and understood the full extent of the ramifications of all of this, we would collectively do something, as an entire world.

Instead, it is just a novelty, another story that people are taking in, maybe shaking their heads over, and going about their day. Perhaps some of the wealthiest among us will buy airplane tickets to Australia, and try and catch the reef before it is gone and dead. Perhaps some of the rest of us will watch Youtube videos or buy new DVD's or Blu Rays of footage from the Great Barrier Reef when it was still at it's peak, and showing the magnificent colors of life, or perhaps they will get a shiny new coffee table book to remember it by.

However, we are not doing what we need to do to finally end such a travesty, which will stand as one of the major failures of our world society and the damage that it is doing to the world, which is the first one that is of a truly staggering level, by which I mean which we can actually understand, quantify, and appreciate (if that is the right word).

The reef is being bleached. The process has occurred remarkably quickly, and in less than two years, huge sections of the reef have been killed off.

Last year, it was more of the northern part of the reef, which is warmer. That seemed to make sense, since we are talking about climate change/global warming, and rising temperatures in the oceans.

This year, it further to the south, which has some scientists, and many other people, quite perplexed, as well as not a little alarmed.

Here in the United States, polls show that as much as 70 percent of the American public believes in climate change. Yet, we consistently have very prominent politicians who either mostly pay lip service to action on climate change, or we have major politicians who deny the science behind it, and moreover, who actively mock it. In fact, we have a president right now who infamously denied climate change, claiming that it was a hoax invented by the Chinese to hurt the American economy. Our environmental standards have already been significantly reduced in just the twelve or so weeks since Trump took office. This should serve as a humiliation for all Americans, yet it seems that either most Americans do not seem to care, or that those Americans who do care are starting to get a little too used to this kind of backwards position that makes the rest of the world just kind of roll their eyes and kind of repeat what President Ronald Reagan used to say all of the time, "Here they go again."

But is Trump's position on this key issue a disgrace? Should we really all be concerned with Trump's denial of global warming? 

Absolutely! Trump's position on climate change is embarrassing to all Americans on such a staggering level, that it is hard to imagine. The rest of the world already collectively rolls their eyes at America's failure to provide affordable, universal healthcare to it's people, and it also rolls it's eyes at American interventionism and notions of exceptionalism and superiority complex. But this failure to either comprehend or accept science is an insult to the scientific community, and a big "F You" to the rest of the world that is actually trying to address this issue. At a time when the Great Barrier Reef is rapidly dying, the world should finally come to an understanding. But once again, American exceptionalism is bleeding through for all of the wrong reasons. Whatever happened to the era when the United States had leaders who actually wanted what was best for the country? 

It appears to be gone now. So do America's claims to be the leader of the world, the first country that others turn to for leadership. Frankly, I am not sure that this whole thing was overblown in the popular Americans imagination to begin with. But if there was still significant leadership coming from this country on this issue, then that was compromised significantly when Americans allowed a narcissistic clown who believes himself an expert on everything and shows himself to be a real authority on nothing to take the highest political office in the land, and to give his extremist party full control over the government. President Clinton was not great for the environment, and President George W. Bush was worse. President Obama was a bit better with regards to science and climate change, but President Trump offers nothing but big steps backwards, going exactly in the opposite direction of where we as a country need to go.

Let's be honest - most Americans might express concern that the Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, but they will also not themselves necessarily feel any real sense of urgency in this regard. Hell, let's face it, while major storms within the United States, such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, got the attention of most Americans and indeed convinced millions that maybe there really was something to this whole climate change thing, the memory of Americans on this key issue, among others, seems to be impossibly short. Much like Americans put away their gas guzzling SUV's when gas prices go through the roof, only to bring them back in force the minute that prices go down, Americans just do not seem to care very much about climate change, or pollution in general. It is now 2017, and the signs are everywhere. I was driving by some guy standing on the corner just a couple of days ago, and I saw this man opening some kind of a plastic package for something he apparently had just purchases, and he just let the wrapped simply drop out of his hands and to the ground. Hell, I saw the same thing with food wrappers when I took my son to the Grand Canyon in 2015! And many people are equally as disrespectful towards their own backyards, as the walkways to my home are filled with signs of littering, and the indifference and seeming sense of exemption (or American exceptionalism?) that people feel towards their own natural world. 

Kind of brings a whole new meaning to "Only in America" doesn't it? Only this time, it is nothing to swell up our breasts with fresh air and a renewed sense of pride of who we are. Frankly, it is just one more thing that makes me feel like slumping my shoulders down, or holding my head in frustration and exasperation. Just one more thing to make me feel ashamed of just how arrogant and ignorant so many of my fellow Americans have allowed themselves to become. It makes me feel that perhaps it actually is fitting that Donald Trump should be in the White House right now, since he really does symbolize a certain spirit in this country that gets in the way of progress, and that just refuses to go away or even yield one damn inch from time to time.

So, I do not expect this horrendous news to change American minds, although what is frightening is the scope of this tragedy.

Frankly, when things like this happen, and when it is met by serious and stubborn indifference by so many tens of millions of my fellow countrymen, the vast majority of whom have the same level of access to information that I do, then believing that we are too stupid to avoid a mass extinction event somewhere down the road becomes a lot easier to believe.

Another thing that becomes easier to assume is that this extinction just might be deserved.

Great Barrier Reef dead at 25 million By Tom Gillespie, The Sun October 14, 2016

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