To the Editor:
As local residents of Grand Canyon know, most park amenities, restaurants, and errand destinations are within close proximity in many cases less than two miles.
Disappointingly, it appears that few residents walk or bicycle to their daily points of business or pleasure. At the Recreation Center in the middle of the day, one might see a full parking lot. Instead of taking 15 minutes to walk to work, my co-workers drive the short distance. Now this is their free choice, but it comes with a steep cost.
An overwhelming amount of scientific research shows that our climate is warming, and human transportation is one of the primary causes of this dangerous trend. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1995. Ice sheets in Greenland and the Arctic are melting, causing sea levels to rise. Over the next two decades, the United States' coastlines could be in jeopardy of succumbing to rising ocean levels.
Although scientists still dispute whether the disastrous hurricane season last summer which inundated much of New Orleans and left thousands homeless was due to predictable ocean cycles or warmer surface temperatures caused by global warming, we still need to slow the effects of this pattern. Our dry and unusually warm winter is another case-in-point.
Our vehicles emit greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, which then accumulate in the atmosphere. Basically, these gases prevent heat and radiation from exiting our atmosphere, effectively warming the planet over time.
Research disputing the very existence of planetary warming does circulate our media. But much of this junk science is funded by the likes of Exxon Mobil and other vested interests that seek to profit from muddying this "debate."
Despite the bad news, there is hope. Global warming cannot be reversed, but it can be dramatically slowed.
Today, I observe a feeling of helplessness among my friends and colleagues concerning the world around us. They feel as if their actions mean little, so they cease striving for change.
Here I'd like to offer a challenge. We can respond to the threat of global warming by walking and bicycling to our destinations within Grand Canyon. After all, what do we have left if we sully this beautiful place over time? Our actions no matter how small and localized do make a difference.
In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, we can reverse the tide.
"Each time a person stands for an ideal, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of resistance."