By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

It’s World Environment Day, and all I can think about is how the Gulf oil disaster has been book-ended by two environmental commemorations. The BP oil well blew out two days before Earth Day in April, though it was barely covered in the news until a few days later when people realized that oil was leaking into the ocean unabated. (In the back of our minds, we tend to assume that someone has a plan for these contingencies. Surprise! No plan.)

Now, six weeks later as the crude splatters the shores and marshes of the Gulf Coast, we’re noting World Environment Day.

Nothing like an oil spill to take the bloom off an Earth celebration, eh? As anyone with a computer or TV has seen, the pain of this catastrophe is only worsening as the oil laps ashore full blast now, suffocating everything from shellfish to seabirds. And unbelievably, the oil keeps coming, despite efforts to “junk shot”, cap or “top hat” it.

Sink hole in Guatamala (AP)

Sink hole in Guatamala (AP)

Looking away from the Gulf is not much help. In Colorado, major tornadoes this past week reminded us that this is not just hurricane season. In Guatamala, tropical storm Agatha blew through at the end of May, forcing mass evacuations and opening a sink hole that swallowed a three story building.

In other apocalyptic news, we’re headed for 105+ temperatures this first weekend of June in the Southwest. Please send a note to climate denier Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma who likes to measure the climate by the daily weather. (It was Senator Inhofe’s family who built an igloo during heavy snows this past winter so they could sneer at climate activist Al Gore and claim snow disproved global warming.)

It’s difficult to say if the more erratic weather and severe storms are related to climate change. Tornadoes, hurricanes and big snow

Aurora, Colo., tornado (Photo: Brittany McKown)

Aurora, Colo., tornado (Photo: Brittany McKown)

events cycle on and off. Sink holes I’m not so sure. But if there are connections, and many scientists are convinced that global warming brings more severe weather — super hurricanes for sure, tornadoes probably and drought definitely — then it all rolls back to our oil issues. To the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels that are changing the planet at a frightening pace, pushing it toward tipping points that could bring unimaginable losses even worse than the current disaster.

The last two centuries we’ve made fantastic advancements for our civilized world, many of which were underpinned by coal and oil.

Now the challenge is on us to move forward again, beyond these finite, dirty-burning crude energy sources toward the next generation of energy, on behalf of the next generation.

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