Saturday, February 24, 2024

#55 / Humanity's Environmental Hubris

The Aral Sea stands as a grim parable, a warning of what can come from humanity’s environmental hubris. If we continue this way, waiting for somebody else to do something or letting short-term economic interests stand in the way, we may find ourselves ... telling visitors about how beautiful our home once was.
The Friday, December 22, 2023, edition of The New York Times carried an "Opinion" column authored by Jacob Dreyer. His column was titled, in the hard copy version of the paper that I picked up off my front lawn at 5:00 a.m., "A Giant Sea Is Now a Desert, and a Warning for Humanity." I am quoting his column, above.

Dreyer's words, and the picture above, inform us of the current condition of the Aral Sea, described by Dreyer as a "once-great body of water." That "once-great" statement reflects the fact that the Aral Sea used to cover an area "about 15 percent larger than Lake Michigan," and was "the world's fourth-largest inland body of water."

No more. 

Perhaps, if you are a non-subscriber, The Times will let you read Dreyer's article. I certainly recommend that you do. But you may well know, already, about what happened to the Aral Sea. I certainly did. Dreyer just provided a reminder - and a warning. Did you know that some people, in our country, are talking about draining Lake Superior, to compensate for the groundwater overdrafting that has occurred (and is occurring) in the American Southwest, and throughout the Great Plains? Visit Duluth, Minnesota, as I did last summer, and you'll be advised. 

I knew, already, before I read Dreyer's article, what has happened to the Aral Sea. Why bother with this blog posting, then? I was motivated by just one phrase. Let us all reflect on the phrase that sent me from the morning papers to my computer:

Humanity's Environmental Hubris

If we recognize ourselves through Dreyer's description (Dreyer says that "walking toward the shrinking remnants of what used to be the Aral Sea ... was like entering hell"), if we will admit to ourselves what's going on, virtually everywhere on Earth, we may be able to change our ways. Can we? Can we learn something from what Jacob Dreyer wrote in his article, and from that photo that The Times published with Dreyer's column, shown at the top of this blog posting?

That bolded phrase, above, is the phrase that sent me to my keyboard. We have, really, so little time to make the changes we must make. We are (we all know it, too) already advised of what happens when we continue to think that we are, somehow, not required to respect the laws and the limits that govern this wonderful world in which we have been so lucky to be born. 

Until we change - and a mighty change is required - we are all (let's admit it, we do all need to admit it) "walking towards hell."

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