Peace with nature


It’s time to make peace with nature.


Last Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the nations of the world to stop the war with nature. “The climate emergency is fully upon us and we have no time to waste. The answer to our existential crisis is swift, decisive action, and solidarity among nations.” On Saturday, December 12, the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, decarbonization goals will be reported to the UN.

Climate crisis

When the Europeans landed in the New World they came as conquerors, armed with horses, weapons, smallpox and many other diseases. They found magnificent forests, rivers, and fish, a place where the Lakota and other tribes cared for the land.

In a letter to the Federal District Court opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, Jon Eagle, Sr., the historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said, “I do not look at myself as a victim. I am standing on my own two feet, protecting my wife, and providing for my family. The world my family prepared me for no longer exists. I was taught how to live off the land, following ancient protocols that stimulate new growth. Never taking more than we need. And yet, in my lifetime I have witnessed changes to our natural environment that cause me to worry about my children and grandchildren. Will they be able to live off the land like I and everyone before me did?”

We have failed to understand our place on Earth, as caretakers of the most beautiful planet. Why would we pretend to own nature and dismiss the waste, pollution, and emissions from extracting fossil fuels and clearcutting forests?

No economy on a dead planet

We are incredibly lucky to be on such a beautiful planet. But we take it for granted and treat it like dirt.

We sacrifice peace, clean water, clean air, and wildlife for economic growth. The economic “externalities” are not free. Creating emissions and pollution is stealing from the environment that sustains the balance of nature for generations to come.

Last month, a Yale Climate Connections story, “Fighting climate change: Cheaper than business as usual and better for the economy,” made the case that “moving now to combat climate change is cheaper and better for the economy than postponing action.” We can have both, a good economy and a green planet.

State of the climate

In the last four years, we have lost the bright outlook of the 2015 Paris Agreement goals. Leaving the climate agreement “to protect the booming US economy” opened the door for other countries to follow the irresponsible path.

In 2018, Trump defunded NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which used satellites to measure emissions in the atmosphere. Many CMS projects measured the carbon flux in forests around the world.

The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane keep rising. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas with a higher warming potential than methane, and 300 times higher warming potential than carbon dioxide.

The Earth does not care how we measure greenhouse gas emissions. Pretending methane leaks don’t count in order to burn “natural” gas, selling “clean coal,” and selling our forests to be burned as “clean fuel,” is the road to ecocide.

           The GOP gets an F on climate, F for fracking, F for forests, F for a failed administration, and a GOP Congress that won’t admit who won the 2020 presidential election. The Arkansas Congressional Delegation is asleep at the wheel, as our health, democracy, and security are at risk.

Air pollution kills

Several studies have shown air pollution from burning wood increases the morbidity and mortality of Covid-19. Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, wrote a great article last week on the impact on air quality of a proposed “inland port,” an intermodal transit hub that would increase truck traffic and pollution.

Moench says, “Let’s start honestly acknowledging the obvious. More air pollution, more deaths, and a hotter planet will be the enduring legacy of the dirty energy inland port, not more jobs.”


  1. > Safe climate and economy is the smart choice

    Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, make strong arguments that bold investments in infrastructure right now make perfect sense even in free-market economic terms.

    With interest rates low and private sector unemployment high, the market is signaling there are more than enough investor funds and skilled labor to supply the needed capital and workforce.

    These investments would boost employment while also making the U.S. energy supply less expensive, more efficient, and cleaner, which could help reduce other non-climate related social problems such as air and water pollution, poverty, and crime.

  2. > Why would anyone in their right mind kill the best information on carbon dioxide emissions?

    “Trump’s administration ended the US space agency Nasa’s monitoring system into greenhouse gases”

    The Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10m-a-year project which remotely tracks the world’s flow of carbon dioxide, is no longer in operation

    Science magazine reports that this loss jeopardizes the ability to measure national emission cuts – as agreed by the nations signing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

    Leadership in the field of carbon monitoring will likely pass to Europe, which has one carbon-monitoring satellite of its own and more to come.

    And the scientific shift to Europe may have already begun. In December 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron lured 13 US climate scientists to France by way of a “Make Our Planet Great Again” project, awarding $70m in research grants.

  3. Air pollution kills

    Every year air pollution causes more death and suffering than what we are likely to ultimately attribute to the pandemic when it is finally over. Numerous studies have also demonstrated that air pollution increases the spread of COVID and its severity.

    But instead of working diligently to reduce our air pollution, state lawmakers plan to make it much worse, remaining firmly in the pocket of special interests pushing the “inland port,” an intermodal transit hub.

    Failure to control the pandemic is rooted in pervasive, intransigent, egocentric denial of science and reality, about the disease and the public policy and behavioral adaptations necessary to suppress it.

    Likewise, self-serving denial of reality is essential to advocacy for the inland port.

    At full build-out, the port could add 70,000 daily semi-truck trips and twice that many passenger cars to our already congested freeways.

    Pollution from new train locomotives, port diesel equipment and increased air traffic may be even greater.

    Brian Moench, M.D., is president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

  4. Price on carbon

    For years, many climate experts and activists have called for the cost of carbon-based pollution to be factored into the price of fossil fuels, a step that Mr. Guterres said would provide certainty and confidence for the private and financial sectors.

    Companies, he declared, need to adjust their business models, ensuring that finance is directed to the green economy, and pension funds, which manage some $32 trillion in assets, need to step and invest in carbon-free portfolios.

  5. President Biden will stop the war against nature

    With new reports highlighting 2020’s record-breaking weather and growing fossil fuels extraction that triggers global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered yet another urgent appeal to curb climate change.

    As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations challenged world leaders to make 2021 the year that humanity ends its “war on nature” and commits to a future free of planet-warming carbon pollution.

    “The state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University.

    “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal.”

    “Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said.

    The UN gears up for a Dec. 12, 2020 virtual climate summit in France on the 5th anniversary of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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