Global warming is, by far, the greatest threat not just to each and every one of our lives, but the health of the planet itself. One of the primary ingredients in creating the “greenhouse effect” essential to global warming is carbon dioxide.
Yes, it’s what you exhale after each and every breath. In fact, each year, all of us breathe out so much carbon dioxide, we actually give that gas-guzzling car we drive a run for its money when it comes to the pollutant.
Yet, no one is suggesting we all collectively hold our breath to try and slow global warming. That’s because it won’t make a difference — not because our breathing is an insignificant factor in carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere, but instead because our kind of carbon dioxide is part of the natural cycle. It’s something that can be absorbed by the environment, thanks to millions of years of natural development.
The carbon dioxide created by gasoline combustion, however — that’s a different story. Here we’re talking about carbon that has been trapped literally for millions of years inside fossilized substances like oil. It’s not part of carbon’s natural give and take when it comes to animals and the atmosphere, because releasing these long-trapped carbon dioxide compounds is literally destroying the only planet we have.
Mother Nature is telling us that breathing is good, and burning gasoline is bad. And while there are times we absolutely have to burn gasoline — we also should create ways to where getting from Point A to Point B requires nothing more than breathing in, and breathing out (and using our own two feet).
We live in a part of the city that is unique in many ways, including the fact that more households come with cars than virtually any other part of New York City. That has created a long-fought battle between those who drive and those who walk (or find alternatives, like mass transit or cycling).
It’s even to the point now where a select few want to remove a crosswalk across Riverdale Avenue just north of West 231st Street, because why do pedestrians need so many places to safely traverse multiple lanes of car traffic?
We have to find a balance between those with cars and those without. Yet, that balance is more than simply a matter of choice. It also needs to be about our environment, and what more negatively effects our way of life.
Our planet is getting warmer, but it’s not the kind of heat any of us want.