Global Warming Daniel Botkin Delivers Term Paper

We are already at a point where many countries have very little agricultural land under cultivation. With rising populations -- the planet just cracked seven billion last year and is headed for upwards of 10 billion by the end of the century. Those are all people who will want food -- if we have no more land (under an arable land net loss scenario), feeding them will be a challenge. Especially if we run out of oil for fertilizer -- that is going to happen in the next hundred years or so, too. So while we may gain 4% extra arable land, we are going to gain 40% more people, and we will be running low on the oil that has allowed agricultural production to keep pace with population growth in the last fifty years. These are just two of many issues relating to climate change. But both of these issues are important to the survival of humans as early as the latter part of the 21st century. In other words, our grandchildren, and their children. This is what I mean when I say we are faced with a choice of our short-term gain vs. The long-term benefits of the human race. We can choose to commute twenty-five miles in a single occupancy vehicle each way every day because we want a slightly bigger house. We can buy cheap plastic junk from halfway around the world, because its low price allows us to buy more of it. These...

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It may not be hyperbole to argue that the extra patty you put on your hamburger is coming from the mouth of your great grandchild. When you dismiss the idea of living close to where you work, you may be condemning your descendants to do exactly that. When you fly to Miami Beach to party for a weekend, you may be ensuring that there is no such thing as Miami Beach when your grandchildren are looking for some fun in the sun -- assuming they could afford such a thing.
It is certainly easy to choose the selfish thing. We are conditioned to do what is easiest, to behave in our own interest. We are even taught that this is best. But in nature, individual self-interest is sometimes subsumed for collective self-interest. This is because in nature, individuals never survive, only species. Adaptation and survival is a species trait, with individuals serving merely as examples. The earth will survive climate change just fine. The fate of the human species is less certain. We are capable of adaptation -- we are actually very good at it. But when we put short-term self-interest ahead of all other considerations, we are shutting off that part of our brains that is hard-wired to long-term adaptation and survival. We are doing the exact opposite of what we would do in nature, which is to ensure that our future generations will survive as with as little difficulty as possible. And for what? A shinier phone? A Super Big Gulp?

Works Cited:

Vigran, a. (2008). With climate change comes floods. NPR. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18022014

Zhang, X. & Cai, X. (2011). Climate change impacts on global agricultural land availability. Environmental Research Letters. Vol 6 (1) 1-8.

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