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The Fierce Urgency of Now

Celestial Lights

By Phyllis Burton Pitluga

Since the invention of electricity and the automobile, the number of people on our planet has nearly quadrupled from less than one billion to more than seven billion in just 125 years. At the same time we have incurred an upward spiraling consumption of Earth’s natural resources. This has led to possibly irreversible changes to the planet’s air and water quality and temperature. We need to understand what is happening and then lessen the human impact of our existence.

World Earth Day Festival
Sat, Apr 18, 10am-3pm
El Charco del Ingenio

Here is the apt analogy: imagine rolling up the windows of your car on a sunny summer day. The sun shines through the glass into your car. The seats and interior absorb that energy. Then the energy is re-radiated as heat. But the heat cannot pass back out through the glass.

This is what we are doing by adding carbon dioxide to our atmosphere through burning coal, gas, and oil. We are closing the windows of our very own atmosphere. We are gradually trapping in the re-radiated heat energy from the sun. Since the beginning of the Industrial Age, the amount of CO2 has doubled in our atmosphere. Summer temperatures on Earth have risen, and changing circulation patterns in the atmosphere now draw the North Polar Vortex winter air down into the tropics of Mexico.

The best example of a planet in extreme is Venus, which is the same size and was formed at the same time as Earth. It is one-third closer to the sun. But the planets evolved differently. Today Venus has a thick CO2 atmosphere that traps sunlight, making the re-radiated heat unable to escape and thus raising the temperature on the surface to 470º Celsius (876º Fahrenheit). This scorching air circulates from the equator to the poles and back, day and night, year round.

To avoid this, we need to cut back on consumption and use planet-friendly sources of energy for electricity, heating, and transportation. Solar energy and windmills are obvious choices in Mexico. Even geothermal energy flowing beneath the Río Laja valley that heats the many thermal baths nearby could be tapped. Desalinization of ocean water would lessen the shortage of fresh water. We should encourage students to pursue careers in science and engineering to develop new planet-friendly technologies.

El Charco del Ingenio Honors World Earth Day on Saturday, April 18, from 10am to 3pm, is an event to remember and recognize that the Earth is our home and the interdependence of ecosystems gives life and sustenance to the entire human race. We will celebrate this day with activities aimed at raising awareness and encouraging actions to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment. El Charco invites the whole community and their families to participate in workshops, conferences, an environmental reading room, storytelling, and concerts that will take place throughout the day.


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