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Life Arts    H3'ed 10/28/12

What does it cost?

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What does it cost? fly from here to Toronto, for instance? Well, that depends. Air fares no longer have fixed prices. It depends on the day of the week, on the date, on how many stops you can tolerate and how long you need at what airport to change planes of one company to a connecting flight of another company. It depends on when you check the price and it depends on what taxes are added to that particular flight on that particular day. Safe to say it always costs more than the price quoted and the whole trip will cost probably twice what you thought because you have to pay for luggage and a d few dollars for a cup of coffee on the plane and a $14 wilted cucumber sandwich at an airport where you have six hours before your connecting plane boards. And of course figure at least an hour at the departure airport for "security." But what nobody tells us is what the real cost is to global warming to fly at all. How much CO2 do those planes add to the tons now causing global warming? European planes fly on bio fuel but of course ours do not.

How much does a loaf of bread cost? Hard to tell. That too depends on where you live, where you shop, what kind of bread you like or can afford. It depends on whether there is day-old bread on sale. Here, the bread I buy at the health food store costs $6.25 plus 4.18% tax for a 1.5 pound loaf, if they have it. If they don't have it there is bread in the freezer from another company that costs between $7.95 and 8.60 plus tax, if they have it. The price of course includes not only what the store adds and shipping from 3000 miles away, by plane, as part of a huge order of all kinds of other things. Again nobody counts what buying a loaf of bread here costs in adding more  CO2 to the atmosphere; wheat does not grow here, we cannot bake local bread.

How about eggs? That depends on whether the people at the end of this road, a mile away, have some at $4 a dozen. They pay for chicken food that costs a bundle nowadays. If their chickens don't lay, as ours don't, then if I want eggs I have to go to the super market 8+ miles from here. Eggs there are from $5 to $7.90 a dozen, $8.40 for 18 eggs if very occasionally they have those. The supermarket eggs also come from 3000 or more miles away but with a stop in Honolulu (the store is part of a chain). More miles are flown and the eggs are obviously less fresh than the ones I occasionally can buy from my neighbor. For those eggs I have to drive the 8 miles there and 8 miles back, using gas, which costs $4-something a gallon. And I have no idea how much CO2 my car pumps into the atmosphere per trip per mile, per year" I'm sure that too depends. Maybe because everything depends on many factors we have never been told the true cost of anything. Now the bill has been presented. Wetter weather, drier droughts.

For the past 12 years at least our government has done nothing to reduce our spewing of CO2 into the atmosphere shared with the entire planet. With 4% of the world's population we were spewing 25% of all the CO2 voided in the air by the whole world. A year or so ago China, with 18.6% of the world's population, passed us by a very small margin. Together, these two nations, less than a quarter of all humans, are responsible for more than half of the cause(s) of global warming. And the last several years we are actually significantly increasing our production of CO2, not decreasing. 

Many of us are switching to fluoride or LED bulbs, recycling what we can, economizing on the use of wasteful driving, but our individual efforts are undone by a government that encourages more drilling for oil -- even giving oil companies billions of dollars encouragement money.

There is also another cost we are rarely told about: the cost of the loss of biodiversity. To my mind that is even more of a threat to our planet and so to our survival. Loss of biodiversity unbalances the planetary ecology, very possibly to such an extent that the ecology collapses. An unbalanced ecology is no joke, a collapsing ecology is an unthinkable disaster. Suddenly many species go extinct, a chaotic growth of some plants and animals causing further collapse. Yet another positive feedback loop: what we did is bad making everything worse. The gentle flap of a butterfly's wing can cause a hurricane a thousand miles away, the ancient Aztecs are said to have said. 

We are always surprised when the bill comes. Enormous floods in Australia, Pakistan.  The drought in a great swath of mainland USA. This year the warmest first three quarters of a year ever recorded. Temperatures over 100 - the new normal. Drought destroyed much of this year's corn and soy harvests. We've harvested less wheat. Prices will rise. 

The rest of the world already accepts, knows, that climate change is real. It is here.  This country seems to be the only country where maybe not a majority but many people don't "believe" in climate change, and the government either does not talk about it or firmly denies that any such thing is happening. 

BIG money denies Big science. That may well cost our species' life on this planet. It is already costing and will be costing our health. Big money for all their support of pro-life is actively and quite successfully anti-life.

We who were used to cheap gas were never told the true price of gas: what burning gasoline does to the atmosphere. We make war but are never told the price -- in money but also in the enemies we have made for generations to come. What we eat costs, of course. But there are other costs as well: we get fat, or develop allergies. Everything has consequences.

Air conditioning has a price beyond its cost; heating has a price. Not only the electric bill but what these modern "conveniences" cost in maintenance and repair. And maybe most of all what our use of electricity costs the planet. Drilling for oil has a price, more expensive each year. But only now, very late, the real bill is presented for burning the stuff: global warming and the reduction of biodiversity as a consequence of oil companies destroying the earth and we burning oil. Wetter weather, drier droughts.

Climate change has become a taboo subject this voting season lasting more than a year. No mention of the record breaking summer. All previous elections for the past many years have at least talked about global warming. This election nobody even mentioned it -- only the so-called third parties did. 

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Robert Wolff Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)

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