We’re glad for the science, but do we really need it?
It’s common sense. When you were a child with your family around a campfire if the wind shifted and the smoke blew in your face, your eyes got red and started hurting, or you started coughing. Nobody needed to tell you to move out of the smoke. You did it instinctively because your body was rejecting the smoke. Smoke is a foreign element for us.
The first time I ever tried a cigarette at about 10 years old with my buddies behind the schoolyard, I got dizzy and fell right out of a tree. Later I smoked for a few years thinking it was cool, but basically, smoke was a foreign intrusion, and after I quit I coughed up some ugly stuff for a few years, from the little cigarello things I’d been smoking. We can now point to an overwheming number of studies that prove that sucking smoke into our lungs causes lung cancer. Smoke is bad for humans. Duh.
This summer forest fires caused by heat, lightning or by careless people will be raging across North America, and a large number of other parts of the world. Our governments will send in firefighters to limit them, control them, or extinguish them. But what if they did the opposite?
What if instead, we sent people into the forest to start some more fires? I don’t mean a controlled burn. I mean what if we lit the world on fire in about a hundred places and then just stood back and watched it burn wildly out of control? For fun. You know, light the world on fire. Burn it all down. Would that be scary? Would that seem stupid?
Guess what? That’s basically what we’ve been doing. We started in the 1800s and we’ve been doing it ever since. I mean it’s controlled. We’re burning everything in nice sophisticated furnaces and boilers and carefully channeling the fire away from our faces, using smokestacks, but really we’ve lit the world on fire. And we haven’t just grabbed the local rotting firewood for this job, no we’ve gone deep underground for the good stuff. Down where trees and bushes have been rotting for millennia and have turned into oily, gaseous bubbling stuff that really burns well. It basically explodes when you light it up. It’s awesome.
Yup we’ve set the world on fire and we’re watching it burn and were talking a little about the damage it’s doing to our atmosphere and our kids' lungs, and how it will help destroy all our water and food production and spawn epidemics of deadly disease. We’re having a nice little chat.
But guess what? The party’s over. We now have better ways to keep warm and make electricity. It’s crazy to set the only planet we have on fire. Fire is dangerous and smoke is bad for us and for our home. So it’s time to put the fire out. I hope you’ll all join me. The earth has been on fire for 150 years. Let’s get rid of the oil and gas, and let’s put out the fire. Thank you.
Author of 150+ feature articles on clean energy. His new book will be published in October of 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield in Washington DC. It contains clean energy solutions and Top 10 lists of climate actions for all of us. Would you like to see your list? Learn more about his new book here.