Magazine article The Christian Century

Rising Tide

Magazine article The Christian Century

Rising Tide

Article excerpt

IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION address, President Bush once again sounded the alarm about America's dependence on foreign oil, and he called for a reduction in gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years. But Bush framed the issue largely as a national security concern: dependence on foreign oil leaves the U.S. vulnerable to hostile regimes and to terrorists who can harm our economy by disrupting the flow of oil. He said little about the environmental need to conserve resources and reduce planet-heating greenhouse gases.

Global warming is happening at a greater rate than scientists predicted only several years ago. According to an article in Science magazine last month, the sea level could rise 20 to 55 inches by the year 2100. About 1 percent of the earth's surface was blighted by extreme drought 20 years ago; that figure has risen to 2 percent, and by 9.050 it could rise to 20 percent.

These changes are more than an environmental issue, says Sir John Houghton, one of the world's leading climatologists; they represent a justice issue. The poorest people of the world will pay the greatest price for the effects of climate change. If the sea rises only one meter (a little over 39 inches), it will displace 10 million people in Bangladesh alone. Extreme drought could create 150 million refugees--again, among the world's poorest inhabitants.

Given the urgency of this crisis, citizens are going to have to take the lead in changing lifestyles. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every American household were to replace just one light bulb with an Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent light bulb, the energy saved could light more than 2. …

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