Thursday, March 29, 2007

It Really Is One Planet

"Earth's climate is agnostic about the location and type of CO2 emissions and is sensitive only to the total burden of CO2."

That sentence has been ringing in my head all day, after it jumped out at me from the text of an otherwise fairly dry article about carbon policy (Carbon Trading Over Taxes).

That sentence is an academic way of saying what any schoolchild could tell you - the atmosphere is one seamless whole. No matter how willing we are to believe that we can divide up the solid parts of the Earth into my acre and your acre, my nation and your nation, the atmosphere defeats this logic. Fluid, invisible, essential, the atmosphere won't allow us the same illusion we have with farm fields and city lots and forests, the illusion of possession.

There's no way to keep "our" part of the atmosphere healthy and let the rest of it take its chances. Either it's all healthy or it's all not.

There is an ethics to this wholeness of the atmosphere, because it sets up the possibility we are living out today, that people who don't benefit from fossil fuel use still pay the price for it.

You know all of this, you've seen those beautiful photographs of our Earth from space, you've walked across a boundary line in the forest and known that the boundary means nothing to the forest, nothing to the Earth.

Climate change is telling us to trust that knowledge. Forget the fifth grade geography lessons, the outlines of nations on the map. Tell the politicians to look up beyond those lines of national interest and acknowledge physical reality. It's only one atmosphere. It always has been. It always will be.

Just ask the wombat.

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