In the overall history of human life here on Earth, we have never faced more broad-based and existential environmental threats than those posed by the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. On a geologic time scale, we are accelerating toward our own oblivion at laser-focused warp speed. Right now—every day—the world is adding more layers of atmospheric pollution and species disintegration to the enveloping shroud that may eventually doom our own species (Homo sapiens) to extinction.
These twin towers of environmental degradation are not something that might become a problem in the future—maybe by 2030 or 2050 or 2100. They are problems right now—and they’re getting worse every day that we sit by and pretend that nothing important is really happening.
But now—with a new administration that will make decisions based on solid science instead of insouciant lies—there is hope. The climate crisis and biodiversity loss do not have to remain problems. In fact—if we focus and work together—both of these conundrums can be well on their way to full resolution in as little as ten years.
If we play our cards right, we can use the perpetual, inextinguishable energy of Earth—the sun’s glorious rays, the wind’s constant breezes, and the water’s endless waves—to work for us all. And, in the process, we’ll leave the polluting fossil fuels right where they belong—buried in the ground, never to see the light of day.
Think about it: Renewable energy here on Earth is abundant and omnipresent. Each time you go outside, you see and feel it everywhere. It’s like an endless symphony written by a master composer and played by a world-class orchestra. The golden rays of streaming sunlight are the strings—always there, maintaining the basic rhythm of the interwoven movements. The wind provides the percussion—rising from gentle whispering breezes of the snare drum to bold resounding gusts of the tympani. Then moving water blends in with the woodwinds and the brass—transitioning from gently lapping melodic notes of the flute to lazy ripples of an oboe’s dulcet tones and concluding with rolling waves of trumpet blasts.
We are right on the cusp of what will be the Renewables Revolution,—providing a mighty parallel to the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution resulted in the transformation of our nation from a rural agrarian society to an urban, manufacturing society. Now we are about to transform ourselves again—from a hard-edged, fossil-fuel driven economy to a softer-sided renewable energy world.
The transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy is already possible. The Solutions Project (www.thesolutionsproject.org) lays out immediate plans for converting each of our states—plus many countries—from fossil fuels to renewable resources. And we can accomplish this at the same time as we create numerous new industries in wind, solar, and water power.
In fact—right now—“Big Oil” has the wherewithal to lead the transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy. They know it’s coming—they’ve known for more than 30 years. They’re already planning for the transition. They just want to delay things as long as possible because—in the short term—they will take a financial hit. But—in the long run—they will actually make more money from renewables than they are currently making from fossil fuel production and processing. The sooner we can make the fossil fuel giants acknowledge this fact and make the switch, the better off we’ll all be.
Overall, the mighty impetus created by nationwide conversion to renewable energy will bolster every sector of our economy. As the old adage goes: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” This renewable energy boom will create millions of new jobs—leading to increased financial security for everyone. And that’s a “win-win scenario” we can all live with. Plus, our children, grandchildren, and all future generations will look back and be forever grateful to us for being proactive in tackling and resolving our current climate and biodiversity dilemmas.”
So, now—finally—the decision is in our hands. The issue is about preserving the existing quality and character of the human species here on Earth. Will we decide to make the changes that will save our ice sheets, oceans, coral reefs, rain forests, and polar bears? Or will we just watch while our world slides into oblivion—at least for Homo sapiens?
Budd Titlow is a professional wildlife biologist, wetland scientist (emeritus), nature photographer, and author of four books. His most recent book—written with his daughter, Mariah Tinger— is PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change.