The Tipping Point: Are We There Yet?

At a family dinner last weekend, seventeen year old Samantha said, “In class we discussed how radiation from the Fukushima Japan nuclear plant has already drifted over Kansas.” A degree of anxiety showed in her eyes.

“Not enough to hurt you,” her father said.

“This time,” she answered cynically.

Maybe that’s what it will take, I thought, a global disaster big enough to bring all the people of the world to the realization that we are truly on the brink of a catastrophic disaster.  The planet will survive but will we?

First, consider the countries that are overpopulated and already have little or no clean water, sanitation, health care or food, failed states fueled  by violence, far away countries with strange sounding names like Somalia, Chad, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Closer to home, poor little Haiti, already in desperate straits, suffered an earthquake that decimated  its population and left millions more homeless and starving.

We continue to build ethanol plants, even though we know that one tank full of ethanol takes enough corn to feed a human being for a year.  In fact, most of the commodity crops go to feed animals, not people.

In The Republic of the Congo, half the population is under the age of 14 and everyone is at high risk for food and waterborne diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid fever as well as litany of other illnesses.

It’s not as easy to see the results of carbon emissions, but our atmosphere is changing and the results will have a profound effect on food production, health, water and sanitation the world over.

We must do something, and soon!

Maxwell Gladwell defines the tipping point in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differences as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” Lester Brown, described as “one of humanities greatest voices for the environment,” believes we are nearing the tipping point and unless we recognize the peril and do something, we may be too late.

Here are ways to avert disaster.

Build renewable energy plants. 90% of the homes in Iceland are heated by geothermal  power, an energy source gaining in popularity here in the U.S. China is the largest producer and user of solar panels. The deserts of Algeria contain enough solar energy to power the economy of the world. Instead of building more coal plants which are irrefutable causes of pollution, or nuclear plants built in highly populated communities, we must make geothermal heat readily available, expand production of wind farms and build solar plants which utilize the incalculable  power of the sun.

Get involved. Join and support one of the conservation organizations (i.e. The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.)

Elect people who care about the environment, will help to cut co₂ emissions 80% by 2020 and will vote to raise taxes on companies like coal plants that produce deadly pollutants.

Become a participant in one of the micro-credit organizations of the world such as KIVA.

Working together, we may be able to make the crucial difference.


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