The president of Pittsburg, not Paris

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

There are plenty who embrace space travel and the science that might take us to Mars – in part because a lot of these wannabe astronauts have given up on saving earth – and think space flight to Mars is next up to form colonies.  Any takers?

These self-styled survivalists delude themselves that these other worldly colonies are a good idea because of what Matt Damon’s stranded character did in a sci-fi movie – given the ingenuity of this imagined scientist to stay alive until he could be rescued.

If we do the kitchen table math, to get to the fourth rock from our sun, to Mars, we could travel the 35 million miles in several hundred days if we were going at about 36,000 miles an hour.

But here’s the rub, putting aside how complicated that space mission would be, based on low bidder equipment, when we get there with our landing party, we have to terraform Mars, modify its atmosphere, temperature, topography and ecology so that Mars is habitable.

What makes us think we can or would make Mars livable when we won’t take the time or effort to sustain the planet where we now live – and the only known space rock in the universe where we can live.

You might ask Mr. Donald Trump that question.

The Paris agreement was a break through to address the threat of global climate change.  The objective was for the nations to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

After all, we are the 2nd greatest carbon emission polluter on the planet.  We are a large part of the “problem.”

It took more than twenty years for nations around the world to agree to an approach, and Mr. Trump preferred instead to join Syria and Nicaragua in dissent from that approach, with a thumb in the eye and thug shove to every other nation who might have believed we were all in this together to save the planet. 

The abiding question is have we crossed a tipping point in global warming that makes any effort to save the planet futile.

195 nations think not but all agree that the planet is in peril — if we don’t act.

It was a bad start when our Commander in Chief, Mr. Trump, insisted that global warming was a Chinese hoax and he was uncertain that we humans contributed to this denigrating planetary process starting with the Industrial Revolution and that toxic carbon emissions have accelerated since.

Both Bush Presidents, and Both Clinton and Obama agreed that poor countries were not going to get a pass on reducing carbon emissions.  While China and India thought the United States had the advantage economically of polluting for years and believed that disadvantaged their poor citizens, they came around and agreed to take responsibility for their emissions.  It helped China to change that bad air choked the people.  China is now knowingly leaving coal in the ground.  China has increased its solar generation 80 percent this year alone.  India has cut off 14 gigawatts of planned coal facilities, and is looking toward solar.  The United States had agreed to put its shoulder to the effort until Trump pulled the plug on this united effort.  Many had thought something had changed for the better when Exxon and Conoco Phillips supported the Paris agreement.

No serious nation or energy combine can ignore the trend away from coal to solar and wind.  But Mr. Trump’s public statements are of a man who is clueless.

As a result, Mr. Trump compromises American investment in the burgeoning renewable energy market and, yes, costing us jobs at home.

When Mr. Trump says he represents Pittsburgh when he runs away from the Paris accord, nothing could be further from the truth, as Pittsburgh is out of coal mining, has been for a long time, and is trending solar and wind and renewables.

In other words, Mr. Trump represents neither Paris nor Pittsburgh.

There are those who honestly believe that the billions of tons of carbon dioxide pumped into the air, released from the earth, from the black rock that preserved it, has not affected our earth’s atmosphere or its temperature.

No matter that Russia can now escort ships through North Seas that were ice, and that Greenland and Antarctica are thinning shells of ice prompting a rise in the oceans that may submerge land now inhabited by as many as 600 million people in or near coastal regions.

Pope Benedict XVI said, “With increasing clarity, scientific research
demonstrates that the impact of human actions in any one place or region can
have worldwide effects. The consequences of disregard for the environment
cannot be limited to an immediate area or populus because they always harm
human coexistence, and thus betray human dignity and violate the rights of
citizens who desire to live in a safe environment.”

Doing nothing denies human dignity and compromises human life – and that
is what “industry leaders” prefer as to choose anything else compromises their profits, no matter to them that it also compromises the life of the planet.