The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 27, 2013

My View: Act now on Earth Day: The future of our grandchildren is at stake


Will they want to visit Brazil and the Amazon rainforest? The good news is that many species of rainforest trees will be able to survive the heat; the bad news is that up to 85 percent of the rainforest may be gone due to deforestation, drought, fire and extreme weather.

Will your grandchildren have plenty of clean, fresh water? Fortunately yes, but most of it won’t come from aquifers, rivers or lakes like today. It’ll come from our society’s waste liquids — including our own pee and poop. In fact, comprehensive wastewater recycling systems already exist and are being installed all around the world, including in cities in the U.S.

Will your grandchildren like people? Well, they’d better, because there is going to be a lot more of us on the planet in 2100 — as many as three billion more than the seven billion who live on earth today.

If this scenario seems too scary, there are silver linings on the horizon. The primary one is technology, which has saved us many times in the past — for example, the so-called green revolution in food production in the last 50 years.

Long over is the debate on whether man-made climate change is occurring. The scientists are universally in agreement even if too many politicians and pundits disagree, mainly because their next hefty paychecks depend upon their continued denial of reality.

Long over is the argument over the carrying capacity of the planet. While we don’t know exactly how many Homo sapiens the planet can comfortably hold, we know that already there are too many. Just look at the far-reaching negative impacts we’ve already forced upon other species.

Taking a stand means projecting yourself into the future of your grandchildren and deciding what kind of planet you want to bequeath them.

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