Saturday, April 7

We're All Animals

Am I the only person vulnerable to emotional breakdowns while watching Animal Planet? In the past, avoiding "Animal Cops" would have guaranteed composer through a spell on such a channel. Programs containing straight-up information about a species don’t tend to rile me up. But this is no longer the case. It is not possible to view a fuzzy little critter on a TV without feeling some responsibility for its well being. A haunting clip of a severely emaciated polar bear has scarred me forever.

A younger, more energetic, me was passionate about environmental issues. I never chained myself to a tree—destined for clear cut, or anything, but the impact of our actions lay heavily upon me. And then, I guess, it just became too depressing, too overwhelming, and I too insignificant. It was easier to just go with the flow.

I recently watched the movie An Inconvenient Truth. It inspired me to pay more attention to the issues surrounding global warming. It seems that my selective observations have sheltered me from truth for quite some time. Global warming is real; its wrath displayed daily. We are destroying our delicate habitat at an alarming rate. There are too many examples to list here, but I invite you to keep your eyes and ears open.

The polar bear, for example, has already been afflicted. Polar bears are magnificent swimmers; they've been observed swimming up to 60 miles. The decline of the glaciers has forced these bears to swim farther in search of food, and they can end up drowning in exhaustion. In 2004, four polar bears drown. Cub survival rates and populations plummet. The fate of the polar bear could affect the entire Artic ecosystem.

If innocent animals don’t encourage you to take action, think of something you care about dearly. Chances are good that it is—or will be—affected. We have the technology and the knowledge to lessen our impact.

Even before Animal Planet burned that horrific vision in my mind, I committed to make some adjustments. I changed almost every single light bulb in my new house to compact florescent bulbs, I'm waiting to buy a hybrid vehicle instead of a Mini Cooper, I recycle like crazy, and each of my fire drops this year will be dedicated to the polar bear—all in effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

If your sadness and determination in the matter begin to match mine, has some good information and tips on what you can do to help. A general web search on global warming prevention might be intimidating; you’ll find over a million results.

I certainly don’t want to be the one explaining our selfishness to successive generations.