My Two Cents on Global WarmingBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
I’m sure you’ve heard the rhetoric already. Global warming has caused havoc upon our fragile environment. Stories in the media abound about the loss of polar ice caps, the rise in sea levels and the escalating frequency of powerful hurricanes all due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Stirring warnings have been given from the likes of Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical scientist, who recently believed the world would end up like Venus with storms of sulfuric acid raining down upon us.
I don’t think many would dispute the impact global warming is having upon the world. Even Governor Schwarzenegger and President Bush have admitted its existence to some degree. I also understand the impact global warming is having but I have issues when it comes to some of the responses we have taken to lessen its impact because it goes against the theory of evolution.
Here’s my understanding. According to Evolution, organisms change over time in order to increase their chances for survival. Only those that have adapted to their changing surroundings will come out on top while those that haven’t adapted, would die off, becoming extinct. Our influence on the environment has increased recently the rate of extinctions vastly with hundreds of species on the brink whether from the destruction of the rainforests or the changing directions of the world’s ocean currents. In response, environmentalists have placed endangered species in captivity, releasing them back into the wild only when suitable conditions have returned.
In a way it’s a good idea but in a way it’s not. As much as I would like to save every species on earth, I believe that saving every species upsets the evolutionary setup based on extinctions that have been running for millions of years.
Those who try to save every species on Earth fail to realize that species are rarely stagnant. Had we locked the world during a certain period of the time, say 20 million years ago and saved all the species without letting them evolve, we would never have the elephants, giraffes and whales that we have today. We would have fauna of 20 million years ago, which would now be obsolete for our present-day environment. The earth continually throws disasters after disaster, from asteroids to massive volcanic eruptions, testing which organisms would succeed and those that will ultimately fail. This makes species more dynamic in nature and extinctions of species help that process along.
If one could see from the organism’s perceptive human activity as another stress on the environment (as opposed to a strange anomaly in earth’s history that is here inevitably to destroy life), one would understand that we are just another test to see who could survive the effects of burning fossil fuels and those who will not.
This doesn’t mean it’s ok to go out and kill all the species you find because it’s “survival of the fittest” anyways. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that it’s illogical to save every species of the world from the effects of our presence. For instance, warming of the ocean waters may leave the present coral reefs susceptible to disease but that same warming may make other places which were formerly averse to cold to have sustained coral reefs, areas where corals could now grow and thrive -- again, another example of evolution in action.
On a species standpoint, there exists only one species that will be impacted by global warming -- it’s us. Whereas other species adapt and evolve to suit the environment they live in, we attempt to keep the environment stagnant for our own benefit. We build sand bars to provide protection for our homes along the Jersey Shore and the Outer Banks; we make levies to provide flood protection from our sprawling cities; we build fire lines to stop wildfires from spreading into our neighborhoods. We cannot accept the fact that the boundaries of the beaches change year to year, that those rivers could flood and change course all the time and that wildfires are a normal process of rebirth for the land. When our fail safe ventures give up, we wonder why they didn’t work, not understanding that they weren’t meant to work because it upsets the natural processes of life.
Humans may be threatened by the effects of global warming but for the environment, it sees it (and human activity in general) as a normal part of the evolutionary process. In the unlikely event, Hawking’s predictions come true; we’ll be the ones running to the moon. The ecosystem on the other hand, will adapt -- to the point, millions of years later, whole kingdoms would use sulfur and not carbon as their main building block.
Anything is possible. - PDM
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