Live interview: Joe Lynde - Boomer - Nature Photographer and former teacher Madison Area Technical College
1. What are your thoughts about the claims that the climate is warming, the environment is being destroyed and that humans are the cause?
Well, I think about the oil and gas industries and all the power and money that drives our economy and how that ends up driving all the CO2 into the air. And then there is the fracking business. Just take our own state here, the sand that is needed is a special kind of sand and it is harvested or mined in the northern part of Wisconsin and is very desirable for fracking. Look at Oklahoma and how fracking in causing a hundreds of earthquakes across the State.
At the same time, there are scientists in Antarctica that are saying there is a particularly disturbing temperature under the ice glaciers that does not bode well for the the rise of the oceans. This is all happening faster and accelerating faster than climate scientists originally thought.
It’s all very disheartening for sure. Of course it’s a political issue. It’s also a national security issue as the Pentagon has said. Global warming is going to create all this migratory activity driving people away from where you can’t grow food anymore or find water.
I want to make a point that there is one party that is particularly beholding to the energy industry and that’s the Republican Party. It’s not that Democrats aren’t also bought and sold but its institutionalized in the Republican Party. They get a lot of dark and dirty donor money working against the climate. So we should investigate our politicians to see who is being paid to promote all that is happening and repeal Citizens United.
2. In your mind what are the driving forces of climate change and environmental degradation?
First of all, with the Trump administration there has been a relaxation of the regulations and standards that protect the environment. California, our most populous state, has said that it is going to adhere to the standards and EPA regulations like exhaust standards and so forth. That’s where the initial push came for electric cars. GM put their money into R&D out there and were committed to the whole thing.
We had a good start back in the 70s and 80s. Government had tax credits that drove the solar industry and the automobile industry. That has pretty much stopped. We bought a Volt in 2016. There was a $7,500 tax credit on a $36,000 car.
Consumerism, greed, poor leadership, no global effort and the influence of mega fossil fuel companies are stopping whatever progress we could have made.
3. Has your life been affected in any way? If so, how?
Well, right in our own condo association we think about the chemicals we use on the grounds. Then there is the daily recycling battle and also we worry about the water we use and how we care for it. In Madison we have well issues on the west side. There’s lots to think about.
Now everything that has a circuit board or is solid state needs to be recycled. We were exporting all the stuff to China for recycling but now they have shut that down. We used to have barges and barges going over there.
4. In your opinion, what needs to be done?
As I said before, we had a good start back in the 70s and 80s. Government had tax credits that drove the solar industry and later the automobile industry toward energy conservation. That was pretty much stopped when Ronald Reagan became President.
Today it’s municipality by municipality that governs what happens to all the refuse. There is not a national mandate to manage all of this.
Of course, we have to stop the whole deforestation thing from the Amazon to California. In Australia we are almost losing a continent with all the fires.
There’s the building industry and all their materials and they are very slow to change but they use an enormous amount materials and energy.
We also have to stop consuming so much. We have to vote for the right people and those people have to exert their power on behalf of the environment. Certainly we have to increase our use of renewable energy. Remember that we were able to convert from coal to natural gas for heating within two decades. We can do that with renewables.
5. Do you consider yourself as part of the problem or part of the solution?
Well, we did have a passive solar home back in the 80s and we have driven an electric car. However, we are still consumers. We live in this society and we consume microwave ovens and everything else. I’m trying to get Connie to do the composting (Ha-Ha). Pretty hard not to be both.
We have to ask ourselves what we really need.
6. What do you think the long-term outcome of climate change and environmental degradation will be?
Hopefully what is happening in places like Spain, Portugal and Germany and how they are moving away from fossil fuels is a good model for the world. They set national goals and made a commitment to become carbon neutral. I guess, one country at a time.
What we need is a Renaissance for the environment. Some people speculate that the rise of fascism in Germany was due, in part, to the fact that they never had a Renaissance there. We have been in a very anti-intellectual, anti-science mode for quite a few years and its really a dumb-down of the body politic. Art and science is no longer valued like in progressive societies that are moving on. So, we need some sort of renaissance to get us back to the humanities.
We can’t stop this like a car. No matter what we do it is going to keep going. There will be many more catastrophes and vast numbers of refugees from climate change.
Ever since Reagan got in and took down the solar panels from the roof of the White House we have been in back-up mode. It was very symbolic. Now it’s the forces of nature and the forces of politics and the forces of money that will determine what happens in the future.