Is it me or the rest of the planet??

I was born a worrier. It doesn’t help that I once had a boss who specialized in worrying. He used to lecture me on why it’s better to confront the possibility of disaster, rather than the actuality.

So I worry about a lot of things. One of the things I’m worried about right now is global warming.

Is it me or do you also see a total lack of concern on the part of our leaders that the planet seems to be going to hell? Consider these facts gleaned from the New York Times over the last three months:

* Core samples drilled from the top of the Himalayan Mountains shows that the last 100 years have been the warmest of the last millennium;
* 1998, 1999 and 2000 had the three warmest winters on record;
* 1998 and 1999 were the two hottest years on record;
* Since the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago the planet has warmed 5-9 degrees; but it will warm anywhere from 2-14 degrees over the next 100 years alone if emissions are not curtailed;
* A group of eminent scientists returned from the North Pole recently to say they found water, not ice, on the top of the world.
Of course, there is a lively debate, even among the scientific community, on what is causing the problem and how to alleviate it. A few scientists won’t even admit that the planet is warming.

Some 150 countries are sending representatives to a high-level conference at The Hague this month to try to find an international solution to the problem.

But I’ve got one solution that would go a long way in this country to cutting emissions: Raise the price of gasoline.

I just returned from a trip to Italy where it seemed like the biggest car there was a Morris Minor. I did not see one American car in Rome. Too big, too clumsy, too expensive.

With gasoline in Europe costing in excess of $4 a gallon is it any wonder why Europeans are opting for fuel-efficient vehicles? With all those tiny cars whizzing around, I’ll bet their emissions is nothing like ours.

What’s the hottest selling line of cars in America? Sports Utility Vehicles, some of which like the Dodge Durango get 12 miles to the gallon. The new 2-ton Ford Excursion gets a projected 10 miles a gallon.

Not only is this trend costly, but it uses up precious resources and fills the air around us with obnoxious fumes that are filled with greenhouse gases.

It’s senseless to try to convince people to help save the planet. (One of my neighbors has three of those monster SUVs in his driveway.)

I’m reminded of the story of how Rhode Island’s oysters disappeared. When the state noticed that the oyster beds were dying it notified the oystermen. The reaction was the opposite of what you’d expect. Instead of banding together to save their industry, the oystermen raced to the remaining beds and plundered them until there was nothing left.

I guess the logic was: “I better get mine while the gettin’s good.”

Now that global warming is here for all to see, what will be our response? Will we band together to save the planet? Or will we race out to use up what’s left while the gettin’s good?

If it’s the latter, don’t wake me up until it’s over.

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