As I preach to others about the need to take climate change and environmental degradation seriously, I have this tingling feeling in the back of my head that I must preface my words by saying, “I’m far from perfect.”


I am  one who both glares at cars as I walk—if they cut me off at a crossing—and drives aggressively as I sit behind the wheel.

I try to buy local and organic but also sometimes forget my cloth reusable bag and am forced to tell the grocery store employee that, yes, plastic would be fine.

And though I work in Boonville and could save money and the environment by living in the city as well, I chose to live in Columbia because the locales, parks and people are familiar and comfortable.

As I preach to others about the need to take climate change and environmental degradation seriously, I have this tingling feeling in the back of my head that I must preface my words by saying, “I’m far from perfect.”

Last week, I stood outside my apartment, more comfortable than in past years during an unseasonably warm November, and thought about how we ensure our planet’s safe future while still sometimes forgetting to turn off the bathroom light.

Representatives from countries around the world sit right now at a United Nations conference in sunny Cancun, Mexico discussing agreements centered around lowering carbon emissions. A year after an underwhelming climate change convention in Copenhagen, the United States chief climate change negotiator Todd Stern spoke at the conference about the pressing need for action.

“Anyone who says that any of these issues is too difficult or should be put off for another day is not trying hard enough,” he said. “None of these issues is too difficult for us and none of them should be put off.”

Agreed, and I hope his words are sincere and prove meaningful because I don’t think the problems of the planet can be left solely to the individual.

For the same reasons that financial regulation and healthcare reform are so difficult, an ever watchful eye on the profit margin, corporations will not take large enough steps on their own, without government regulation, to scale down their environmental pollution.

The trickle down to the consumer is that the average person—more so during these difficult economic times—will opt for the cheaper item rather than the one that a local farmer grew without pesticides. Or in the case of those with the financial means, for the sports utility vehicle rather than the hybrid car.

The government must put incentives into the marketplace to encourage corporations, local businesses and consumers to invest in green.

That’s not likely to happen though with the incoming Republican majority in the U.S. House. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California  advocated for his appointment to lead the House Science Committee last week by saying he would use the position as a “bully pulpit” to denounce “phony science.”

Michael Steel, spokesman for soon-to-be House Majority Leader John Boehner, said the Republicans planned on   eliminating the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which speaker Nancy Pelosi created in 2007 to push for caps on carbon emissions.

It’s difficult to negotiate on an issue when the leaders of one side don’t view it as a problem.
The political pressure does not exist for these Republican politicians because there is still a large chunk of America who based on their religious beliefs, scant scientific data or just ignorance, don’t think that climate change is a  problematic, human driven phenomenon.

So what are we to do? Unfortunately, we can’t wait and see. Those of us who are concerned will continue to turn the thermostat down in the winter while hoping someone turns the heat up on Washington. That’s a scary thought for people like myself who no longer look the same way at sunshine in December.

Contact news and online editor Eric Berger by calling 882-5335 or e-mailing eric@boonville
dailynews.com.