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Watching as the world vanishes

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    Fw: [fuelcell-energy] ... Watching as the world vanishes Roxana Robinson The Boston Globe MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2006 It was shameful, everyone agreed afterward,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2006
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      Fw: [fuelcell-energy]
      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Watching as the world vanishes
      Roxana Robinson The Boston Globe
      MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2006

      It was shameful, everyone agreed afterward, that no one did anything
      at the time. Because people knew it was happening. There were
      reports, early on. People saw things, near where it was happening.
      They knew. Later, they said they hadn't known, really; they hadn't
      understood the scale of it. Maybe this was a place where the curves
      of ignorance, courage and survival instinct intersected, to exclude
      the possibility of action.

      The evidence is still growing, and growing worse, but we're still
      resisting it. When the scientists grew more serious and more
      impassioned about the situation, when they began giving numbers,
      offering proof, asking for action, we decided that we no longer
      believed in science. We distanced ourselves; we hoped we wouldn't be
      affected. The population at risk is not our population, at least not
      right now, so we needn't do anything right now. We might do something

      We trust the government to take care of us, to act responsibly.
      Believing this is easier than taking drastic steps to stop what's
      happening, particularly since this government is very much intent on
      pursuing its present course, which results, as a side effect - though
      the government would not acknowledge this, or even comment on the
      fact that it is taking place - in the complete destruction of the
      affected population. The affected population is one-half of all the
      species presently living on earth.

      Fanaticism is a driving force here, as it often is behind great
      crimes. This is a crime against nature, and this fanaticism is
      economic - the belief that money and profit should outweigh all other
      considerations, including survival of the species. If we maintain our
      current rates of consumption and environmental strategies, by the end
      of this century, one-half of the species now alive on earth may be

      We're presiding over the greatest extermination of living species
      since the end of the dinosaurs. We're eliminating habitat, reliable
      climate, fresh water, clean air and nourishment. We're imposing
      intolerable living conditions on thousands of species. The current
      rate of extinctions is thought to be at least 1,000 times higher than
      the natural level. Right now, one-quarter of all mammals are
      endangered with extinction; one-third of all species, animal and
      vegetable, may be gone by 2050.

      It may not be evident to us, as we sit in our cubicles, at our
      laptops, but we need these other species. We need the Northern
      lapwing, the Scottish crossbill, the king protea (South Africa's
      national flower), the albacore tuna, Boyd's forest dragon (an
      Australian lizard) - all of which are in dire straits. We're
      connected to everything. All living species perform functions
      valuable to the ecosystem, to the planet, and to the people who live
      on it. But species everywhere are being systematically deprived of
      the possibility of life.

      Cutting fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gases would save many
      species from vanishing, but we're not committing ourselves to that
      strategy. The Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified by 182
      countries; the United States - largest producer of greenhouse gases -
      is the only industrial country that refused. America didn't want to
      be subject to any regulation over its destruction of the air, the
      water, the habitat and the voiceless inhabitants of the earth.

      Others agree. Many developing countries wanted nothing in the treaty
      that might limit their freedom to exploit - and destroy - their
      natural resources. So the treaty is neither very powerful or
      effective, since almost everyone involved places short-term economic
      goals ahead of the long-term health of the planet. Similar issues
      affect the Kyoto Protocol. It seems we're all in this together, this
      destruction of species. This is an international effort.

      Do we not think we need a healthy planet? Do we think that the
      animals dying around us means nothing? That this wholesale
      destruction won't affect us?

      The use of fossil fuels, and the resulting climate change, is
      wreaking havoc everywhere. Erratic, destructive weather takes its
      toll on agriculture, construction, transportation and communication,
      as well as wildlife. Do we still think we don't belong to the
      affected population? What if the group we're destroying turns out to
      include our own?

      What will we say to our children, and their children, when they learn
      about the beautiful, rich and varied life on earth that we were
      privileged to know?

      (Roxana Robinson's most recent novel is ''A Perfect Stranger.'' This
      article first appeared in The Boston Globe.)




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