2016 is the Year to Break Free of Fossil Fuels

by Louis M. Steinberg

Homeostasis is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relativelyearth constant. The human body maintains a pretty tight control of our core temperature, our acid/base balance, our breathing rate, our pulse and a host of other systems that if allowed to randomly fluctuate, would signal an imminent disaster.

If our internal temperature suddenly rose to 104 degrees, not only would we know something is wrong, but we would try to bring it back to normal. Many people do this by using cold compresses, taking anti-pyretic medicines such as aspirin and Tylenol, or if shivering begins, bundle themselves up in warm blankets and clothes. Some will hurry to the doctor and demand an antibiotic because they are certain that they have an infection and must fight it with whatever tools are available. Many will not ask why this has happened, but will instead simply weather the storm; because our bodies are so remarkable, we heal.

Some individuals have a very hard time healing because their toxic burden is too great. Toxins come in many forms, such as mercury found in silver amalgam fillings, but there are other heavy metals that accumulate in our bodies, including lead, nickel, cadmium and others. Our bodies have the ability to rid themselves of these poisons until they become overwhelmed and lose the ability to detoxify. This in turn will lead to an accumulation of toxins that slow down or stop routine bodily processes. In the case of mercury, a neurologic poison, any function mediated by our nervous system may be impaired.

We can extend this analogy to our largest biological system, planet Earth. According to 350.org, “Since the beginning of human civilization, our atmosphere contained about 275 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. That is the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted. Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise; at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food or heating our homes rely on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, once stored beneath the Earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere.”

350.org is so called because climate scientists agree that when the number of carbon particulates in the atmosphere exceeds 350 parts per million, planetary warming will occur. Our atmosphere now has well in excess of 400 ppm, and we are adding to this every year. If this were our baby, we would know that homeostasis is not working and rush to the emergency room to work to bring the temperature down.

The Earth is our baby; it belongs to all of us and we are not paying attention to the indicators. These levels of carbon particulates are really a fire alarm. We have all incorporated the mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle, and there is no question that this is important. However, we are observing damage all around us: sea level rise, acidification of the oceans, melting of Arctic ice sheets and storms with greater intensity than we have ever experienced.

Scientists tell us we really do not have decades of time to watch all this unfold, we must make the transition to renewable fuels as rapidly as possible. This is doable, not a pipe-dream. The fallacy is believing that we can continue on our present course and all will be fine. We must stop burning the fossil fuels if we can hope to put out the fire on our planet.

We all need to become active in calling for policies that hasten the transition from planet-warming fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in order to save our common home. “Keep it in the ground” is the rallying cry of a world-wide show of resistance called, Break Free. Although this may be a time of great anxiety, it is also a great opportunity for new businesses and new infrastructure that will provide millions of sustainable jobs.

Dr. Louis M. Steinberg is a biological dentist in West New York and an active member of 350NJ, the New Jersey arm of 350.org. For more information, visit Breakfree2016.org

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