It's about 40 °F outside right now, a temperature that provides a stark contrast to the below-freezing temperatures of the past several weeks. A forceful but relatively warm wind blows across the city, and once in a while, icicles can be heard shattering against the ground.
We've had below normal temperatures in Pittsburgh so far this February, despite the balmy conditions in December and early January. My most recent gas bill states the average temperature for the billing period was down eight degrees on last year, though we barely had snow at all then.
A factory's smokestacks belching pollutants into the atmosphere (Image credit: Utah Department of Environmental Quality)This brings up an interesting point of disagreement among people across the country. That's the "G" word... or, perhaps, the "G" phrase: Global Warming.
On New Years Day this year, when one could walk outside in a tee shirt and be more or less comfortable, everyone was quick to point out that global warming was the probable cause of the abnormal weather. The colder it got, however, the more those conversations disappeared. Clearly, the concern was temporary, but just as clear should be the fact that the controversy has not gone away.
I'm not an environmental scientist, so I can't really bring hard facts to the table when it comes to discussing this, but I've read my share of articles on the subject, and I must say the evidence is obvious: global warming is here, and it's not leaving until we do something about it.
Overzealous politicians have tried to propose implausible ideas like the Kyoto Protocol, which sounded like a good idea on the drawing board but calls for too much of a solution too soon. Indeed, it seems only the United Kingdom and Sweden are actually on track to meet their 2010 emissions requirements.
A mere three days ago, a number of countries that, this time, included the United States agreed upon the Washington Declaration, the supposed successor to Kyoto. The Washington Declaration is somewhat more tenable, and with the comparatively firm support of the United States, it may actually go somewhere.
I'd like to ask you this: if you could force the world to do one thing to combat this grave problem, taking also into account the related complex economic and political issues, what would it be? That's a daunting task, but thousands of people are working on it every day. And, they're not just working on one big thing everyone can do; they're trying to figure out what hundreds of tiny contributions governments, companies, and individuals can make toward overcoming the struggle against global warming.
Now, I'd like to propose a challenge. Each of you intelligent, well-informed, environmentally conscious readers should come up with one thing you can do to reduce your toll on the environment and do it for a week. See how it goes, and if you're proud of the benefits you're producing at the minor expense to your lifestyle, keep going. Tell your friends about it, too, and maybe they'll join you.