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What are the Biggest Threats to our Environment?


Interestingly, and happily, in the United States and in other prosperous countries, pollution of all forms has decreased over the last few decades. Our air, rivers, and lakes are cleaner now than they have been, and still getting cleaner. Why? Automobiles burn gas much more efficiently, and have catalytic converters. The amount of industrial waste is decreasing because of legislation, and because industries are finding inexpensive ways to turn their wastes into substances that are of value. Conservation measures are increasing and becoming more affordable every year.
 

Importantly, the way we generate energy is much cleaner now. New power plants usually use natural gas, which burns very cleanly. And more and more energy will be derived from solar and wind power.  Nuclear power plants give off no pollution or greenhouse gasses. And the new Gen. IV nuclear power plants are passively safe, and can even 'burn' previously-made nuclear waste. If we'd follow France's lead, we could get 70% of our electricity inexpensively from nuclear power and soon get the rest from solar and wind energy. 

So I'm not really worried about prosperous countries’ pollution. Except for one: noise pollution. It is more damaging than most people realize, and we need to do more to make our cities quieter. Silence is truly golden. 

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What about global warming? The best data we have shows a warming of less than 2C by the year 2100. That shouldn't be much of a problem, and may actually be better for humanity as a whole.
 

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What about the developing world? China and India alone account for about 2.5 billion of the Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. They are giving off an increasing amount of pollution and greenhouse gasses. And other developing countries are responsible for deforestation. However, as they get more prosperous, as almost all counties are, they will have the resources to cut pollution. And they will be able to use our advances in solar power, wind power and nuclear power to develop more quickly. 

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Worried about a population explosion? It's not happening. We have 7 billion people now and demographers expect world population to top out at 9 to 10 billion people. There is plenty of food, water, and other natural resources for that many people. Consider that the continuing exponential growth of technology has made and will continue to make our natural resources less expensive, and will allow us to recycle them inexpensively. They don't disappear. (Except for fossil fuels, which we will need little of as the decades pass).

Actually, UNDER-population is a big concern in developed nations. Russia, Japan, Italy, Spain and many other nations are literally dying off. (Immigration helps, but is not a long-term solution).
 
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So what am I worried about?

There are too many of us who terrorize, murder, rape, and steal. 

There are too many of us who hold hate in our hearts for others.  

There are too many of us who don’t take responsibility for our thoughts, words or deeds.

And there are too many of us in the United States who want to force others, using legislation and the courts, to live our lives, run our businesses, and educate our children, by what they believe is best, and not how we believe is best for ourselves and our children.

It is we who are the biggest threats to humanity.
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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
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Comments

Anonymous said…
I think what this argument fails to consider are factors that aren't just based on CO2 from power plants and other resources. I agree that China and India are contributors, but what about the cars. In the United States, there is roughly 1:1 ratio of people to cars. The problem extends beyond just power plants. Nuclear power isn't going to solve all our woes. Also, 1.8 degrees celsius is a huge increase, even if it took 100 years. If 0 degrees is freezing, a 1.8 degree increase would most certainly trigger a sea level rise. How is that not bad? I don't know if it will cause the world to end, but it might be enough to disrupt our everyday activities on the coast. Also, I think it's not just on a global scale that climate change should be considered on. Think about your local area, your cities. There's so much smog from cars, this triggers a global warming phenomenon, but more importantly it diminishes air quality, and that matters. One might argue that cars are getting better, that's great, but so is our population! It doesn't even matter if we have enough food for everyone, because I know for a fact we have a lot of food today, but what's the point if you can't distribute it. Also what about our world's garbage problem? Plastic? We need to take stricter measures to sustain our planet. I also don't agree that our rivers are getting better, we have a higher population on this planet than ever before, how is it even remotely possible that our rivers are cleaner? It's contradictory to to have developing countries take pollution cutting measures once they get resources, why not teach them the right way first and then let them grow. I can live today, but I don't want my kids to live in just a bad of an environment. Climate Change is real and we shouldn't even approach it from a global perspective, it's enough to understand it on a local level, because that's where you feel the real impact. I want clean air, clean water and a clean landscape and I know that fossil fuels, growing trash heaps and hotter temperatures won't help.

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