By Dr. Barbara Warren
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Arizona is burning. We are amidst a severe drought, a climate growing hotter and our water resources are shrinking. Without adequate rainfall, forests will become tinderboxes and fires will rage. Was this expected? Yes! Climate scientists have been warning us for years that this is the future for the Southwest with the scenario of climate change.
And yet many of us we still behave as if there is nothing happening out there on our planet and in our own environment. We have been told how to make the necessary changes in our lives for a long time now. Read Lester Brown’s book, “Plan B” or a whole host of other writers. It is late, but there is still time to make very significant adjustments to the way we live and to dramatically reduce the rising carbon levels that are the cause of these changes.
We all work to try to make the future for our children and our grandchildren and other family members’ futures on this planet a better one. And yet we are ignoring the obvious, the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room. What will their lives really be like if we continue on this path? See Thomas Friedman’s Opinion piece from 4/8/11.
In the Southwest, we are fortunate to have ready access to a large and plentiful and renewable energy source. We all value our sunshine and our desert climate. And yet many of us seem blind to the opportunity it presents to capture the sun as energy. We can each do our part in helping to reverse the trend of global warming. And yet the majority of us do not act. It is puzzling indeed. It is especially ironic to listen to the many who say: “I cannot afford to put solar energy on my house because I am renovating my kitchen… or bathroom… or buying a new car.” Most often that new car is not a hybrid or electric vehicle. Our choices are backwards, short sighted and certainly not in the best interests of our children’s future on this planet.
There are a number of very helpful incentives to get on with choosing solar electricity and solar hot water and many other energy conserving options for our homes. The State and the Nation allow us tax credits for each of many items. The Federal government provides a 30% tax credit for solar installations. And our utility companies offer generous subsidies that reduce the costs of solar energy choices for our homes by an average of 40%. Must it be free for us to care enough for our children’s future?
It is time to get our priorities straight and to do the right thing for our families and this planet. We can do it! We can also find ways to help those who truly do not have any funds to go solar and make this happen. Let’s all compete for the best solar arrays and not the fanciest bathrooms and kitchens! And kudos to all of you who have “gotten it” and have those panels on your roofs, those hybrid and electric vehicles, that water harvesting, those bicycles and so on! Thank you for doing your part!
About the Author:
Barbara H. Warren, MD, MPH is a retired physician who is the Arizona coordinator for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and a Southwest Director on the National Board of Directors of PSR, Washington, DC. She also is the coordinator of the Issue Team on Global Warming and the Environment for the Pima County Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).