JayMac: Why does protecting Earth have to be political?

Apr 23, 2019, 2:36 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm
Photo: Shutterstock...
Photo: Shutterstock

Disclaimer: the following story is an opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

Happy Birthday, Mother Earth! But on this Earth Day, I have to ask: Why is protecting the environment a partisan issue? Why are we divided on the subject of protecting our planet, our only planet?

We so often begin conversations about protecting the Earth with these non-starters: Is climate change real? Is it manmade?

The questions don’t matter if you are breathing in dirty, toxic air. They’re academic. A political distraction.

Let’s start with these three agreements: First, everyone is in favor of clean air. We can debate how aggressively we want to pursue clean air or the methods we chose to achieve it, but let’s just say we all want clean air.

Second, we all recognize that switching to renewable energy is something that needs to be accomplished. With clean, renewable energy, we can cleanse the air, and also, we can end our dependence on other nations for our energy supply. Other countries do not have our best interests at heart.

Third, let’s agree that animal conservation should not be a politically divisive issue. Who’s in favor of standing around doing nothing while watching an entire species get wiped off the face of the Earth and be OK with that?

I get that there should be a balance in approaching these challenges, but why does it have to be all or nothing? Why can’t we come together on these three issues? What am I missing here?

If we can muster the courage to take partisanship out of the equation, we can focus on finding solutions.

It doesn’t even have to be about the air. Jellyfish are dominating certain ocean ecosystems because one of its key predators is being overfished. This is important because one species can affect all other species. Circle of life right here on Earth.

My guest on Science Mondays, Luke Gangi-Wellman, of the Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City, says humans need to be “incredibly aggressive” today in repairing the damage that we have done to the Earth. He says the damage has moved beyond just a state of damage control. Global warming is bringing “intense amounts of flooding to this country,” he noted, and flooding brings mosquitoes, a major carrier of diseases.  Global warming is melting ice sheets that are not just the largest source of fresh water but they also reflect the heat of the sun’s rays. Without them, the Earth’s core heats up.

Gangi-Wellman points out that 11 months after completing the $14 billion upgrade to the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels.

“The science is saying we need to move quickly,” says Gangi-Wellman, “and we need to move in some really drastic steps.”

President Donald Trump has chosen to ignore our climate needing urgent care in favor of jobs and the economy. Generating jobs today and ignoring this emergency places the burden of remedying the environment on the shoulders of future generations.

Turning a blind eye to today’s climate calamity is no way to treat Mother Earth on her birthday.

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JayMac: Why does protecting Earth have to be political?