Never mind the ever-accelerating signs that the Earth is being stressed to multiple tipping (or breaking) points: rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, acidifying oceans, threatened fisheries, dwindling water resources. Like an addict who’s spiraling out of control, the world’s powers-that-be seem hellbent on taking a “just-this-once” approach toward meeting short-term needs rather than achieving long-term solutions.
Arctic becoming the canary in the coal mine for climate change? But oil has briefly hit $100 per barrel and the U.S. economy is tanking. So let’s hold the first-ever oil and gas lease sale in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea … just this once.
Canada’s Boreal Forest a carbon sink twice as powerful as the forests of the tropics? But rising fuel prices have suddenly made it profitable to tap the region’s vast reserves of tar sands … just this once.
Discovering that the coldest, most pristine place on Earth — Antarctica — might also harbor a wealth of oil and gas reserves? Let’s tiptoe around the continent’s edges trying to establish rights to resources below the seabed … just this once.
The list of “just-this-once” announcements from the past few months alone could go on and on, but would make for even more disheartening reading.
For the individual human addict, help sometimes comes in the form of an intervention from friends and loved ones who hope to confront the “just-this-once” behavior before it collapses into outright personal destruction. For an addicted human civilization, though, who will intervene?
Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikimedia Commons.