Fading Tiger, Climate Dragon

The Economist offered an in-depth survey about Climate Change (Sept 9th — 15th, 2006 issue). The 24-page report covers topics such as greenhouse gases, sea level change and ice melts with fantastic scientific quotes and new bits of information in that witty way only The Economist does. For example, did you know that if West Antarctica, East Antarctica, and the glaciers on Greenland were to disappear, sea levels will rise by over 80 meters, that's 7 meters, 6 meters and 70 meters respectively.

With people like Rupert Murdoch teaming up with Bill Clinton to fight global warming (see Fortune's September cover story), Thom Yorke weighing in on the United Kingdom's carbon footprint and Martha Stewart's Green Week (Simran Sethi of TreeHuggerTV will be a guest on the show), interest in the subject of greener living is pouring into our culture. There is no mistaking the potential horrors of continued high-level carbon emissions. If you decide to read The Economist's survey, take a second to read a more disturbing tale on page 46 entitled "Tigers in the Twilight". According to new studies, the Bengal Tiger is forecasted to have a population of between 300 to 400 within the next four years. If the tiger's population gets to such a low count, the beasts will fade into extinction. The sad conclusion of the study is not a result of global warming, changing sea levels or CO2.

The two stories occupying the same issue of The Economist is a strong reminder for environmentalists mashing their teeth about potential deep water in New York, London and Bangladesh. People who are coming into the realm of green do not consider themselves environmentalists. If our society adopts clean methods of energy such as solar or geothermal, or begins driving more hybrids, electric or biofuel cars — these aren't going to create a direct positive effect on bio-diversity. In fact, after the boom of interest with alternative power during the 1976 oil crisis, environmentalists continued to slowly build a market for greener options. But these options weren't solely to generate electricity for electricity sake. The goal was to strive towards a view of the world that encompassed all issues facing the ecological health of the planet.

Climate change stands to wreck havoc on the natural world. Solutions which are not dedicated to global ecological health will only worsen the problems of habitat destruction and species extinction if they are focused only on human survival. Efforts to mitigate climate change can reduce carbon levels, but our efforts will be in vain if we do this at the expense of species, like the Bengal Tiger. With the right policy and mitigation actions Blomstrandbreen glacier in Norway could reappear. However, once gone, nothing can bring back the tiger.