Spring Is Finally Here!

Yes, Richmonders, after our long winter, this weekend we are seeing that Spring is finally returning and we will no longer suffer the indignities of Winter’s cruel grasp.

Should you be a typical Richmond conservative Republican, please know that the previous sentence was said in jest. I am enough of a scientist to know that even our unseasonably warm episode does not verify global warming. Nor does the fact that 2007 is predicted to be the warmest year on Earth in recorded history, nor does the fact that glaciers are receding, ice caps are melting and breaking away, and natural phenomena all over the world are changing in relation to temperature.

This is me and my brother in a photo taken in Richmond in the winter of 1951 – back when we had winter in Richmond and most often even snow.

But one wonders just how far into global warming one must venture before even a Richmond conservative Republican will cry “uncle” and admit to the effect man is having on our shared environment. It must be the natural order of things – the balance of nature – that we have both open-minded, rational, progressive, citizens who have a sense that the world is really community seen large. And we have conservative, closed minded, tradition bound, inerrant Bible reading, stodgy, citizens who see life as the survival of the fittest and community as revolving around the survival of their own particular gene-pool.

A new generation today may be oblivious to the scare we had a few decades back – when a hole appeared in the Earth’s ozone layer above the poles and was growing at an alarming rate. The ozone layer protects the planet and life on the planet from ultraviolet rays and peoples at extreme southern and northern latitudes were being warned to avoid direct exposure to the sun. Natural cycles and chains in nature were beginning to be interrupted. A full-scale destruction of the ozone and a threat to life on the planet was even possible. The cause: chlorofluorocarbons – Freon. This wonderful miracle of DuPont science that was seen as inert as water and was responsible for the advance of refrigeration and air conditioning and the aerosol in countless cans of consumer products. This molecule, once seen as inert, was now found to be a catalyst in the upper atmosphere involved in the mechanism that was destroying the ozone.

Take the time to look back. Do a Google search. Read about how the big invested interests were pitted against a few lone scientists in a denial of the truth, and there was a moneyed resistance to considering properly the implications. At the time I worked for DuPont at their headquarters. My secretary was Lois Plunkett the wife of Roy Plunkett, the discoverer of Teflon. My office was next to an office of two men who mysteriously had a closely held assignment – partially of which was to assist in the coordination of debunking those who would postulate theories that would threaten this important income producer. There are important analogies here.

One of the prime reasons, if not he prime reason to study history, is that we learn from the past, and so that we as individuals and as a society have a perspective and do not constantly repeat our past mistakes.

I have seen Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, many progressive, iconoclastic, liberal, open-minded and free spirited people have – but it is more important that stubborn, Republican, tradition bound and self righteous, see this movie and begin to accept the science. More importantly that they begin to accept their God given stewardship responsibility for this small planet we all – all six billion of us – reside.


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