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Saturday, July 17, 2004

It Ain't Easy Being Green

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I learned a fascinating thing today.  Phytoplankton control the weather.
Yes.  I said that phytoplankton control the weather.  I'll bet that you did not know that.  and it's no wonder that you didn't.  It seems a little far fetched. 
Turns out that these plankton respond to ultraviolet rays from the sun by releasing compounds which form clouds.  The clouds, in turn, protect the plankton from the sun.  Are you as amazed by this as I am?  Its astounding that something so small and seemingly so insignificant can have such a profound effect on this planet.  On us.
Here's another piece of news, one a little less astounding.  Phytoplankton do not have a powerful Washington lobby.  There aren't D.C. plankton running around in DKNY suits and getting stuff done.  The same can be said for the rain forests, endangered species and fertile top soil.  All of these things are voiceless on their own. 
The reason this plankton-cloud connection interests me is because it serves to illustrate two things.  First, the apparent interconnected nature of seemingly disparate things.  Second, my total lack of real understanding about this connection.  I have been accused of being a tree-hugger (liberal left-wing bleeding-heart nature girl) in the past.  I have been characterized as the sort of person who prefers a state of nature to the welfare of people.  For instance, I was a little worked up when Mr. Bush came into office and started to undo all of the environmental policy put into place by the administration before him.  However, this does not mean that I am a looney tune.  It means that I can see the BIGGER PICTURE.  The question is, can you?
Phytoplankton, apparently one of the most insignificant species on the planet, can have a profound effect on cloud formation.  Clouds have a profound effect on the weather.  The weather, in turn, has a profound effect on us.  The desire to understand what the consequences of our acts will be before we engage in them seems clearly pro-human to me.  If I don't understand what the heck plankton even do, how can I understand the impact of failing to protect plankton?  A policy which suggests ACT first and worry about the consequences later is short sighted and, pardon me, stupid.
We have to focus on the bigger picture, to take into account the consequences of our environmental policy.  Not just on the U.S., but on the planet and on the rest of the world.  To dismiss the idea that a species of owl, or a stand of trees, or a bit of coral reef is significant is to ignore the fact that we just don't really know.  It may be insignificant.  Or it may be crucial to the balance of things here on earth.  Crucial to our own well-being. 
After all, who'd of thought plankton have anything to do with what SPF of sunscreen my grandchildren will have to wear?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you name 2 enviromental policies (put into place by the Clinton administration)which Pre Bush "started to undo"when he came into office?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Girl Ipsa said...

On his first day in office, Mr. Bush "froze" Clintons Roadless policy for our national forests. He also reversed Clinton's initive on clean drinking water; which would have reduced the acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. Both of these policies were well supported by the public and by scientific evidence. I'll add, as a free bonus ~ Bush's Oil Industry Friendly desires for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But who cares about caribou? It's not like THEY control the weather...

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need roads in the forests for proper management and to fight fires -- provide breaks etc. The arsenic was a wonderful Clinton sleight of hand (like the Mark Rich pardon)For 7 years in his administration the arsenic levels were acceptable but at yr 7 1/2 the levels must be reduced or there would be impending doom. Bush put a hold because of hardships in rural western states and to have further study. This of course caused the TV and press to go wild with the charge that Bush wanted to poison our children. I have no idea what happened to this proposal if it didn`t go into effect I am sure the populace are dieing like flies in a raid cloud.

We already drill in the wildlife preserve (the affected area is about the size of a star on the flag) The carribou love the pipeline and the herd sizes are increasing every year---it is too bad they don`t vote as it would be a boost for the republicans.

There are more forests in North America today than there were in 1890.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Girl Ipsa said...

Dear Republican FAN,

Please feel free to start your own BLOG ~ Call it "Why I Love Bush" ~ which I will link from mine, visit frequently and comment on expansively. Until then, though, I think I'll stick to my topics and stop bickering with you. Love ~ Diva

5:34 PM  

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