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Forestalling the coming climate crisis

by Bradly Gill | September 20, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

Just the idea of a legislative bill addressing the environmental emergency being introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly is close to Don Quixote tilting at windmills, and if one were introduced and passed, it would be lottery odds. But we have to start somewhere.

One day, our environmental laws and regulations will, believe it or not, closely resemble California's. So this is a shot across the Arkansas bow, so to speak, to start us moving in the right direction. Let's not do it kicking and screaming.

Surely we can see the wisdom in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Let's not wait until the situation becomes worse and we are desperately forced into making more restrictive decisions. Instead, let's focus on the easy items, which should be a part of our everyday lifestyles.

Let's recognize the obvious reason for regulations that we may find onerous. Unless you are living under a rock, the huge change in climate, caused by the warming of Earth's atmosphere, has already accelerated beyond even the most severe predicted scenarios.

Ask people living in America's southwest, or check with folks closer to home in Mississippi or Kentucky. Some predictions, based on the past year's severity of weather events around the globe, forecast even more dire climate change consequences in the next few years, strictly because of the ever-increasing global atmospheric temperature.

The weather changes we're seeing currently were predicted to happen 20 years from now, but they have become a reality, and they will only intensify. Can you imagine living where summer temperatures regularly soar to over 125 degrees?

We're faced with a looming catastrophe, and we will look back and regret doing so little to circumvent the horrible consequences. The past several years of weather events are causing a new urgency to set in worldwide. Even though Arkansas is in a better position than other areas of the country, we must combat the consequences in our country as if they are occurring in our state.

We honestly can do no less as Americans.

These items should be the focus when the Legislature convenes in January. However, since we all know the Ledge will probably spend its time saving us from the woke and cutting fat cats' income taxes, they won't be able to work on anything environmental. That leaves responsible citizens to take individual actions.

If we look back at past reforms and progressive actions which are beneficial to our state, they were initially demanded by our citizens. It will be the same with this environmental emergency.

Here are some minimal things responsible citizens can do. The key is to reduce excess use of energy. The residue from energy usage adds carbon dioxide density to the Earth's atmosphere, which causes heat from the sun to be trapped. Global atmospheric warming and climate change is a lot more complicated, but that is the root cause. We must reduce wasteful uses of energy. Here are a few ways that would help:

- Stop using one-use items. That means non-returnable beer and soft drink bottles and virtually everything that you purchase from a fast-food restaurant. Don't worry about running them out of business. They will adapt, as they do when one-use items are restricted in other states.

We are spoiled by convenience. It is more trouble to return a beer bottle or not use a straw. You buy a burger, they wrap it in paper, put it in a burger box, then in a sack along with paper napkins, plastic forks, and condiments in a throwaway plastic sack. That's wasteful, and unnecessary.

- When we get one-use items out of daily use, we can tackle bigger problems such as Styrofoam. Yes, Styrofoam is about as big a problem as the more common one-use items. In the United States, Styrofoam accounts for a huge amount of the trash in landfills and along roadsides. Several states have already banned Styrofoam, and I don't have any doubt Arkansas will in the future, but don't count on the Ledge to do anything about it in any near-future environmental bills.

Do you give a damn when you are flipping channels and watch a family cry as they look at the ashes of their house, burned down from a wildfire caused by climate change? Don't you have the compassion to be just a little inconvenienced? We are all part of the reason their house burned. Do you really not care and or want to be bothered?

Change always comes down to desire, and desire is always caused by the need to do or accomplish something. When I walk out of a big box grocery store with my multi-use sack and look at my fellow shoppers with 15 sacks of groceries in plastic bags, then take a late afternoon walk and nearly wade through roadside trash, I know we have a long way to go.

But as surely as we finally got cell phones, we'll get the climate crisis whipped, and one day in Arkansas will have regulations banning one-use items and Styrofoam. Hopefully we won't be 49th. Just start with a mindset to slowly reduce the one-use items you use on a daily basis one at a time.

A final note: Don't even think about burning leaves this fall!

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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