Lewis Diuguid: Once a week, let’s give Mother Earth a day off

First Posted: 8/10/2011

Global warming naysayers will continue to deny that humans worsen the health of the planet until the rising tide overtakes coastal homes and 100-degree heat is a Midwest constant.The prevailing science provides clear evidence that the polar ice caps are melting. Arctic shipping lanes, which for the centuries of humanity's existence have been frozen, are now clearing in parts. The air overall is sodden with water vapor, and temperatures worldwide continue to climb. Also note the rising sea levels.Weather patterns are changing, and severe weather is becoming far more extreme and violent. We have seen it in this region in the heavy snowfalls in some places, droughts and searing heat in others.We've also watched helplessly as tornadoes touched down and devastated Joplin, Mo., and parts of Reading, Kan., and Sedalia, Mo., in May. Some point to tornadoes and heat waves that preceded this current weather. This isn't global warming, they say. But others believe differently.It is humanity's collective fault, with the United States leading the way. Our population of 308 million represents about 6 percent of the people on the planet, but we consume more than 25 percent of the world's energy. Coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels that we burn produce the energy that we use to heat, cool and power our homes, businesses, churches and other places.Our addiction to oil runs our vehicles and gets us to jobs, schools, shopping and fun things. Oil keeps the engine of commerce going. We use a lot of it in this country, but that appetite is growing in other nations such as China and India. The world can't tolerate more fossil fuel gluttony.Humanity's growing energy use leads me to renew a plea made four years ago in a column. Earth needs an energy-free day each week. All flights would be canceled, and massive amounts of toxic hydrocarbons won't be spewed into the air.On that weekly energy-free day, only emergency vehicles would operate. Everyone else would drive battery-operated cars with a previously stored charge, ride bicycles or walk.Fossil-fuel-burning power plants would shut down. Trains would stop, and stores would close. Air conditioning or heating would shut down.Televisions, radios and other media would go silent. Instead of being connected to social media, people would have to reconnect with real people in living color and 3-D.One day a week would give Mother Nature a chance to catch her breath. It also would provide asthma and other bronchial sufferers a chance to feel more normal.What's clear is the industrial revolution spawned the creation of large cities for work-related efficiencies, which are killing people and the planet. The 19th- and 20th-century model is not healthy.Global warming naysayers in 2007 hated the idea of an energy-free day. They don't see a problem.They deny that there is a growing hole in the ozone layer. They deny the increase in skin cancers because of the growing and dangerous intensity of the sun's rays, they deny the rising temperatures and the more intense summer heat and humidity, and they deny that deserts are growing and that flooding in other parts of the planet is becoming more common.It's hard to see the devastation from flooding this spring and not think global warming played a part. It is impossible to turn away from the massive destruction of tornadoes this year and not think humanity was implicated. Now a drought rivaling the Dust Bowl of the 1930s grips the nation's midsection, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, and doesn't want to let go.It also would seem impossible to ignore Mother Nature's wrath hitting where we live. Until non-polluting, non-fossil-fuel alternatives are developed, an energy-free day is a constructive example of how to change a wasteful lifestyle.It even could be better in the long run for humanity, bringing people closer together. That was an effect of the blue laws, which used to be in place in states like Missouri.Until they were abandoned, people could only buy essential items on Sundays because that was supposed to be a day of family togetherness and worship. Capitalism and consumption overruled it.Now for the sake of having more quality days on the planet to live, work and play, an energy-free day once a week would be a good start.Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Kansas City Star's editorial board. Readers may write to him at Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108-1413, or by e-mail at Ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

Lewis Diuguid: Destructive behavior to planet must stop

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