Letter to the editor: Saving planet means sacrifices

I read the group letter re: climate change with interest. While I agree with the gist of the content, I have one question to pose: What are you willing to give up?
I’m a Baby Boomer. I grew up in the age of technology, that being basically the second half of the 1900s. What was invented during that century was mindboggling, fantastic, impressive and the beginning of the end of human life on Earth, quite possibly. 
These fabulous inventions brought on consumerism, the basis of global warming, which is the cause of climate change. As a result of consumerism, every single one of us is responsible for the astronomical problems that we are now facing, problems that we all finally realize are truths and not media hysteria, what with the growing critical weather conditions that are happening and affecting millions of Americans yearly. No more hiding our heads in the sand.
Let me list what we use on a daily basis now that we “could not do without”: Food, shelter, clothing. The true basics. So, what is it that we use that is extraneous, but which we all feel that we could probably not live without, things that we simply take for granted?
• Oil, gas and coal: Fuels for airplanes, cars, buses, trains, trucks, tankers bringing cheap crap from Asia for us to buy; heating fuel; industries; electricity; metal and plastic production.
• Electricity, which runs the world: The lights in your house, your flushing toilet; oxygen tanks; running water (while we still have it — this will be the first thing that countries fight over); your computer and cell phone; newspaper; instant-on heat; hot showers; microwaves; refrigerators; washers and dryers.
• Food: Pesticides/fungicides/herbicides/rodenticides — all poisons on your table; meat/seafood/poultry, all of which now have antibiotics and hormones added to their bodies that we eat or drink, plus their feces, which make tremendous amounts of methane, a huge air pollutant; pills to keep us living ‘til we’re 100, to keep us sane, to keep us quiet.
• Plastics: Body parts, computers, iPhones, DVD’s, cd’s, televisions; beverage and food containers; plastic wraps and bags; vinyl siding; body cleansing and make-up containers; pill bottles; pens; Scotch tape; fans and air conditioners; eyeglasses; toothpaste tubes; condoms…
In other words, almost everything.
The lists could go on and on, and they are often interchangeable. Look around your house, your car, your office. What did you need vs. what did you want? Do you feel that you have to update every year in order to “get the latest” and follow trends and programs with your phones, cars, or computers, if not your clothing or diet? Have you looked at your local landfill lately and at the things that have been thrown out? Unbelievable.
The U.S leads the planet in pollution production, not only in what we make ourselves here, but what is made in other countries for us — mainly China and India — whose skies are now choked with the byproducts of industry, as well as their pouring tons of waste plastics and chemicals into the Pacific Ocean.
I don’t want to sound like a total downer, but, indeed, we are, quite obviously, in trouble. To “make good” we — and I mean everyone of the planet — would have to give up quite a lot at this point in order to survive with food and shelter. That’s something that we will not do, simply because we’re used to having it all — and are now paying the price, as happens in these circumstances, with global warming. 
Other countries are now making the same mistakes as they scurry to catch up with our consumerism, so air, water and land pollution are growing at an uncontrollable and alarming rate. Overpopulation around the planet is a huge part of the problem, as well, as many people now have expectations: Products that they’re working towards to “improve” their lives —those that we Americans have.
Many older people are now shaking their heads — having done their bit with the problem — and saying that the next generation is screwed. Well, sadly, yes, they are. But no one is changing his/her lifestyle. We all groan and moan about the total mess our planet has become and leave it at that. Why?
Historically, humans won’t do anything until the federal government enacts a law to do it. Doesn’t say much for us, does it?
Imagine if we had no cars, no computers, no restaurants, no grocery stores, no gas stations, no dollars stores. We scream and shake our heads about dirty politics or now commonplace mass killings or plastic islands in the Pacific or racism or heroin or #MeToo or the price of food or global warming or whatever gets our goat. It’s almost like hearing shrieks about football plays from the armchair sports fanatics … here one minute, gone the next, as we settle back into our routines of complacency and apathy. Yes, those things make a difference in our lives, but they don’t keep us living. The Earth’s topographical survival is, at this point, our own.
It’s really quite sad, isn’t it? We were given Heaven and have made it into Hell.
Carolyn Van Vleck

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