Global warming is for real. The argument persists, is it a natural cycle, or is it being caused by humanity, but regardless of which side you are on, it only takes a small amount of simple observation to realize global warming is happening.
It came home for me when I made a trip to Portland at the beginning of January, 2007. I was driving through the area where my great-grandparents lived the latter half of their lives, Ellensburg, Washington. I have pictures of their house in Cle Elum with snow clear up to the eaves of the roof. Now it WAS an unusual year, and yet it wasn't unheard of for the snow to be that deep, it happened every ten or fifteen years. In a normal year, there would be two or three feet of snow around their house much of the winter. As I drove through in January of 2007, there was little to no accumulation of snow on the ground in Ellensburg, and it hit me hard, this global warming thing is really true.
Years ago I read an article about the impact of human activity on the climate of Southern California. This article stated that when western people began moving in to Southern California around the turn of the 20th century, they went crazy planting orange and avocado orchards. They planted so many trees that the average ambient temperature of the region dropped by two degrees, and rainfall actually increased. The whole region became so pleasant that a great many people wanted to vacation, and eventually, to live there. As the cities grew, orchards began to give way to housing, shopping, industry, and the like. At the writing of that article, the combination of orchard loss and pavement gain had resulted in an eight degree gain in the average ambient temperature, with average rainfall correspondingly down. In addition, the rainfall that did come often resulted in devastating mudslides, a problem still very prevalent today. The combination of higher temperatures and lower rainfall also exacerbates the danger of wildfires in the region. All these problems directly related to the human activity in the area.
It is a well known fact that trees help to combat air pollution. It is a somewhat lesser known fact that trees emit a great deal of moisture every day. By using sunlight and shading the ground, they help to regulate ambient temperature. Of course they are also very useful in preventing erosion, due to their extensive root systems.
In considering all of these facts, I came up with a relatively simple proposal for dealing with Southern California's pollution and climate issues. Before I describe my proposal, let me say that I realize there are a great many political and financial roadblocks to this idea. Also, I am no scientist, merely a layperson, so it is possible that I do not understand the problem fully. But I feel that implementation of this proposal would positively impact Southern California (and any other urban area that chose to implement) by improving pollution levels, reducing heat, and creating a more pleasing urban environment that would be a boon for both people and animals.
In its simplest form my proposal is this, take every parking lot and put it underground, creating green space full of trees, grass and flowers above it. Simple to state, far harder to engineer and execute, yet it would have a huge positive impact. And when considering the problem of global warming: the loss of land mass, the terrible storms, the possibility of triggering an ice age, etc., human beings need to have huge positive impacts or this planet could end up as barren as Mars.
Is this proposal a total solution? No it isn't. Conservation, recycling, reduction of waste and consumption, alternative power sources, etc., all must be pursued to the largest extent possible. Human beings have a responsibility to steward this planet and its lower life forms, not use it up and try to move on. Even if you belong to the use it up and move on group, you have to admit that we simply do not have the technology to do so, and probably won't before global warming destroys life as we know it.
I challenge large private companies to take the lead and begin covering their parking lots at corporate headquarters and large manufacturing facilities with beautiful green spaces. Including water features with the trees and plants would further enhance both the beauty and positive environmental impact. This is not about profits, this is about being responsible and setting a good example. This is about going down in history as a leader and role model. This is about saving the long term possibility of life on this planet.
Politicians can help as well by turning their influence back on the companies that have lobbied us into the deplorable situation in which we find ourselves, and in turn lobbying them to scale back their expectations of profit and growth, and take the lead in saving the world for humanity and the universe. This is how to be a true statesman, take risks that have the possibility of saving the world. Imagine how many voters you will be impacting . . . let's see, that would be . . . 100%!
Global warming is reality. It is at least compounded by human activity. And we can reverse it if we are willing to make sacrifices and do what is necessary. It may take going above and beyond what we think is reasonable. So be it. Humanity needs somewhere to live, and the only place we have is right here.
Save planet earth.