Friday, December 18, 2009

Who are We?


In the end, that simple question, posed by Al Gore at the Copenhagen climate summit, sums up what's at stake.

Just who are we, as a species, if we don't act now to save our planet for our children? 

Together, in the past few thousand years, we've had the imagination and the energy to utterly transform this planet, to redirect its resources to our common (or perceived) good, and a better, more comfortable life.

After all of this, we can't agree to save it? 

Let's be clear.  We are not saving the planet.  The Earth will go on, recycling its raw materials for billions of years into the future.  Mountains will be built, oceans will rise and fall, structures, man made and otherwise, will be dissolved and reused.  The Earth will ultimately be fine, given time.  That is, until our sun enters its final stages, and consumes it all...sort of the ultimate recycler.

No, it is us that needs saving.  Humankind, and the creatures that share this world with us.  Our reign has been, so far, relatively brief on this planet (after all the dinosaurs ruled for 200 million years...us...well, less than a million), and we are in danger of making it end more quickly than we needed to.

Do we sentence our children (yes, the bill is coming that soon), and our grandchildren to a future less prosperous, and less optimistic than our own?  With dwindling natural resources, and the inevitable consequences of too little to go around for too many...wars, famine and disease?

I don't think we will choose that.  I share what Gore calls his core belief, the belief that animates his life, and keeps him moving forward.  Namely, that humans are better than that.

But we have to act soon to prove it.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bio Gem of Costa Rica

We at Earth Explore are excited to be expanding our programs south in 2010, to the rich and environmentally important nation of Costa Rica.  Home to critical world biomes, Costa Rica is beautiful and educationally rich.  But it is also much more than simply a showplace of luxuriant tropical life.

In a place blessed with such a rich array of nature's splender, something rather unusual in human history has taken place.  This small nation has taken aggressive steps to lock it's jewels away from rampant and uncontrolled development...the kind that has despoiled environmental treasures in too many other places.  The nation has been aggressive in promoting sustainability...and hopes to become the world's first carbon neutral nation.  National Reserves and Parks, many arising from, or supported by private donations, have sprung up everywhere.  There is a push for eco friendly development and tourism; very good signs for the future.

But the picture is not all rosy.  Pressures to open coastlines to oil and gas exploration and drilling, and exploit virgin rainforest for timber and mining are ramping up.  All too easily, this small nation could be directed down the path seen so often in the tropics; of slash and burn and quick profit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has named Costa Rica a world Bio Gem...and is encouraging action to keep it safe, wild, and beautiful.  We believe sustainable tourist development and visitation can help to provide a solid economic base to counter the lure of quick profit through exploitation of natural resources.

What do you think?  If you're interested in the issue, go and learn more about the NRDC's Bio Gems, by visiting http://www.savebiogems.org/costarica/


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

What do you know? Branson has it right.

I was reading recently about a meeting two years ago between Al Gore and Sir Richard Branson.  Branson you might recall is the colorful British promoter who's the genius (or villian depending on your take) behind the Virgin business empire, world record attempts in all manner of flying things, and a massive mane of silvery hair.

Turns out Gore had an interesting proposition.  Branson calls it a lecture.  In two hours, Al told him why as a global Titan of Industry, he should be leading the push to save the Planet.  Explained that government was not doing the job, and couldn't be expected to anytime soon.  So, said Gore, it was up to business to lead the way.

A compelling argument, in that it has been the insatiable appetite of business, fueled by consumers, that has gotten us in to the mega mess called climate change.

Anyway...in a bathtub sometime later..Sir Richard had the epiphany that changed his life, and he hopes, will change ours as well.  He made the decision then and there, in a sea of bubbles, to really commit to the idea of doing something.  Not long after, he announced that the ENTIRE profits of his transportation businesses...air and train...would be devoted...for ten years, to research into finding a clean alternative to fossil fuels.  That's three billion dollars. 

Now, you say, that's easy for a man who is among the richest on earth.  And you may be right.  But as far as I can see he is still the only billionaire to make such a commitment.  If it was truly that easy, I think others would have stepped onboard as well.

No the commitment was real, and so is the money.  Sir Richard may be a publicity hungry capitalist promoter, but he's put his billions where his mouth is.  And it may in fact show us an important way forward.  Branson concluded that those who have benefited the most from the fruits of Mother Earth, should be the ones who are first to step forward with dollars...and commitment.

I for one applaud him for his action.  Now, he may be more shrewd than any of us understand.  His pro earth commitment may put him on the leading edge of a Green Wave in business that could enrich him even more.  But if that comes to be, I say he deserves it.  He was the among the first to say, I'm rich enough...now let's do something with it.

After the greed spotlighted by our financial meltdown of the past year, I can only say... cheers Sir Richard.  Now let's see how many other follow your lead.

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