From: Subject: The environment On the edge of destiny - ithacajournal.com Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 23:11:30 +0800 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; type="text/html"; boundary="----=_NextPart_000_00B7_01C54AB5.480302A0" X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.2180 This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_00B7_01C54AB5.480302A0 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Location: http://www.theithacajournal.com/news/stories/20050418/opinion/2115011.html The environment On = the edge of destiny - ithacajournal.com
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 Opinion - Monday, April 18,=20 2005


The environment On the edge=20 of destiny



EDITORIAL=20

Through the arrogance of hindsight, all Americans find = some=20 things hard to imagine.=20

How could anyone have sat back silently and allowed = millions of=20 fellow human beings to be bought and sold like livestock, = then=20 tortured, raped, murdered or worked to death and thrown out = like=20 trash?=20

How could anyone have allowed promises of peace upon = promises of=20 peace to be broken, and millions of fellow human beings = stripped of=20 their native land, ancient culture and often their very = lives so an=20 invading horde of slaveholders and industrialists from the = east=20 coast could devour a continent?=20

How could so many have been idle for so long while that = horde=20 kept women as possessions, turned children into cheap labor = and left=20 the old, the weak and the poor to die every time the tide of = their=20 economy turned against them?=20

To survive as a modern American, we either ignore these = parts of=20 our public past or we convince ourselves we are different = people. If=20 we were there, in our grandparents' time, we would not have = been=20 blinded by greed and comfort. We would have changed things.=20

Well, we are there.=20

In recent years, the world has been repeatedly presented = with=20 evidence that we are on the road to an environmental = catastrophe. In=20 one major study, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment = released March=20 30, more than 1,300 experts from 95 countries worked for = years to=20 look at the future of the earth, and how that future will = affect=20 humanity. The study found 60 percent of ecosystems that = support life=20 are being degraded or used in a way that cannot be = sustained. That=20 destruction - to fresh water resources, the ocean's = fisheries, to=20 clean air, to forests and species diversity - threatens = humanity=20 with new diseases, loss of water and food, and shifts in = regional=20 climates. Those consequences could cost billion of dollars = and claim=20 millions of lives.=20

We, as Americans, play the largest single role in all = this. We=20 have the world's largest economy, and the single largest = source of=20 greenhouse gasses. We are 5 percent of the world's = population, yet=20 we consume 26 percent of its energy resources. More than = that, we=20 are the sole superpower on this planet. In that position we = steer=20 the politics and economics of the world - and with them the=20 environmental choices others around the world are driven to = make.=20

Even here in Tompkins County, as a new series by reporter = Jennie=20 Daley on growth and environmental issues that began in = Saturday's=20 Journal highlights, we are now facing critical decision that = will=20 define our quality of life for generations. Tompkins County = is=20 expected to add 5,300 new homes between 2000 and 2009, with = the bulk=20 of that development going in rural areas light on the = infrastructure=20 needed to protect key environmental resources.=20

But being at this critical time locally, and beings = Americans at=20 this critical time in human history, offers us a historic=20 opportunity. The choices we make on consumption, resource=20 allocation, and conservation can have a greater impact on = the health=20 of our planet than any people, anywhere, at any time have = ever been=20 allowed. We can make choices in global politics and in how = we live=20 every day in our homes that can recast the fate of the = environment=20 our grandchildren will inherit.=20

Learn. Talk. Use public forums - including this opinion = page - to=20 share ideas and solutions. Demand more from the corporations = and=20 governments that serve you.=20

Or risk being the people our grandchildren will imagine = they=20 could never have been.=20

Originally = published Monday, April 18, 2005

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 Opinion - Monday, April 18, = 2005
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The environment On the edge of = destiny



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=20 =20 =20 =20 =20 =20 =20 =20 EDITORIAL

Through the arrogance of hindsight, all Americans find some things hard = to imagine.

How could anyone have sat back silently and allowed millions of = fellow human beings to be bought and sold like livestock, then tortured, = raped, murdered or worked to death and thrown out like trash?

How could anyone have allowed promises of peace upon promises of = peace to be broken, and millions of fellow human beings stripped of = their native land, ancient culture and often their very lives so an = invading horde of slaveholders and industrialists from the east coast = could devour a continent?

How could so many have been idle for so long while that horde kept = women as possessions, turned children into cheap labor and left the old, = the weak and the poor to die every time the tide of their economy turned = against them?

To survive as a modern American, we either ignore these parts of our = public past or we convince ourselves we are different people. If we were = there, in our grandparents' time, we would not have been blinded by = greed and comfort. We would have changed things.

Well, we are there.

In recent years, the world has been repeatedly presented with = evidence that we are on the road to an environmental catastrophe. In one = major study, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment released March 30, more = than 1,300 experts from 95 countries worked for years to look at the = future of the earth, and how that future will affect humanity. The study = found 60 percent of ecosystems that support life are being degraded or = used in a way that cannot be sustained. That destruction - to fresh = water resources, the ocean's fisheries, to clean air, to forests and = species diversity - threatens humanity with new diseases, loss of water = and food, and shifts in regional climates. Those consequences could cost = billion of dollars and claim millions of lives.

We, as Americans, play the largest single role in all this. We have = the world's largest economy, and the single largest source of greenhouse = gasses. We are 5 percent of the world's population, yet we consume 26 = percent of its energy resources. More than that, we are the sole = superpower on this planet. In that position we steer the politics and = economics of the world - and with them the environmental choices others = around the world are driven to make.

Even here in Tompkins County, as a new series by reporter Jennie = Daley on growth and environmental issues that began in Saturday's = Journal highlights, we are now facing critical decision that will define = our quality of life for generations. Tompkins County is expected to add = 5,300 new homes between 2000 and 2009, with the bulk of that development = going in rural areas light on the infrastructure needed to protect key = environmental resources.

But being at this critical time locally, and beings Americans at this = critical time in human history, offers us a historic opportunity. The = choices we make on consumption, resource allocation, and conservation = can have a greater impact on the health of our planet than any people, = anywhere, at any time have ever been allowed. We can make choices in = global politics and in how we live every day in our homes that can = recast the fate of the environment our grandchildren will inherit.

Learn. Talk. Use public forums - including this opinion page - to = share ideas and solutions. Demand more from the corporations and = governments that serve you.

Or risk being the people our grandchildren will imagine they could = never have been.

Originally published Monday, April 18, 2005

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