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Destroy the natural world to save it?

A close-up of a tree with Joshua Tree National Park in the background. Description is automatically generated

Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Bernard Gagnon, Wikipedia.

Prologue

The headlines in the Los Angeles Times infuriated me. One was about the planned destruction of thousands of Joshua Trees on “private” land in the Mojave Desert to produce electricity for a relatively wealthy community that preferred ceramic roofs to solar panels. This obscene decision will destroy more than the treasure of Joshua Trees on 2,300 acres of desert land in Kern County. It will kill countless endangered species such as turtles. In addition, construction in the desert environment will spread pollution to the neighboring towns of Boron and Desert Lake, whose residents are impoverished. Their protests were ignored by Kern County officials, who did their utmost to appease the developers and the affluent people who will receive the solar electricity.

Questionable research

The other headline was also disturbing. Los Angeles Times climate columnist Sammy Roth says we can’t ignore “research” that tells us “we need big solar farms.”

We do not.

I say this reluctantly because Roth has reported with insight and understanding about the gigantic anthropogenic forces driving changes in the planet’s climate. But there is no scientific evidence that we need to destroy the natural world that gives us life to, supposedly, save it in the long term.

For example, Los Angeles must be self-reliant in carbon-free energy. Relying on solar farms in the deserts of Southwest America and wind turbines from as far away from Los Angeles as Wyoming is not wise or sustainable. It’s the same ignorant idea that people and civilization can coexist with nuclear bombs. They can not. So far we have been extremely lucky. But happiness is not a science, technology, wisdom or passion for life. Happiness is a series of accidents with fatal consequences or no consequences at all. It’s all a big gamble.

Los Angeles can’t rely on random luck. It must build a public transport infrastructure powered by electricity. Bring trams to life – as they existed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Expand the subways to all areas of the city. Los Angeles residents would no longer have an excuse to drive. Solar energy should power the generation of electricity, a process based entirely on the sun’s abundant and reliable energy. Cover all skyscrapers with solar panels and propose that all parking lots, homes and buildings, public and private, including churches and shopping malls, must have solar panels on their roofs. Stop lighting up the skyscrapers at night.

Solar panels

Solar panels seem unacceptable to those who reject climate change. These people benefit from binding society to their product. Others ignore solar panels because they value the appearance of ceramic roofs over their own health and safety and the safety and health of our civilization and the planet. Or it’s possible that some people are so removed from the natural world that they have yet to discover that something different and dangerous lurks in the planet’s rising temperature.

Role of governments

These reasons also reflect the indifference and even cooperation of governments with the climate profiteers, the fossil fuel billionaires. The federal government announced that it has allowed so many private solar and wind energy companies on public lands that it has already produced about 25 gigawatts of renewable energy.

For example, why does the California government allow private ownership of land in the Mojave Desert and other public lands? Is it too difficult to understand that mountains, rivers, lakes, islands, deserts and forests belong to all of us, and not to billionaires or corporations? Second, even a basic respect for the idea of ​​democracy prohibits private interests and individuals from profiteering from public lands and exploiting the wealth of the land, which belongs to all Americans. So allowing oil and coal and gas companies to excavate public lands and waters for petroleum, coal and gas is not only illegal, but clearly suicidal. After all, science warns us that continuing to add heat-grabbing gases to our atmosphere is more than folly. It is a clear invitation to the demise of our civilization and possibly the eradication of life on Earth.

Epilogue

The United States and other countries threatened by rising anthropogenic temperatures have more options than covering their homes and other buildings with solar panels. They should try to decarbonize their agriculture by returning to traditional ways of growing food. Stop using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. These chemicals are petrochemicals. Without the heart-consuming oil, machines such as tractors and harvesters are useless. This means a return to horses and bulls for land cultivation. Large farms should be split into different parts, giving more small family farmers opportunities to grow food. The revival of rural America is possible. Such a transition will reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases by 30 to 50 percent.

Another reform to reduce the dangers of rising temperatures is to stop wars. The US can immediately withdraw from its dangerous role of waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. That would also order NATO to stop arming Ukraine. The next big step for the US would be to order Israel to end its war, primarily against Palestinian women and children. The elimination of these two major wars could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least another 20 percent or more. That would give humanity an opportunity to reconsider its purpose within a healthy civilization and planet. The earth is sacred. We should never consider killing biodiversity or ecosystems for the convenience of developers or states.