Editorials


Holding Up The Sky, Holding Back The Sea

Published: January 31, 2019 at 04:30 pm

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Members of Newtown Environmental Action Team (NEAT) have recently voiced alarm regarding climate crisis.

Those who scoff at the idea of climate change might find reason to pounce on this, believing that “the sky is falling” has been the cry for the last one hundred years — and here we are.

The world certainly has made progress over the last century; air and water quality have improved, and environmental concerns continue to be a priority in towns like ours and many states of the union. But having managed to carry on despite decades-old warnings does not mean there is no reason for concern today; deliberate ignorance has led us to a place where we must still make ever more difficult decisions for the sake of future generations.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) released in November 2018, a collaboration of private and public sector scientists, reports that quality of life and economic growth in the US are “vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” and that “Societal efforts to respond to climate change have expanded in the last five years, but not at the scale needed to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.”

The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and man-made environmental alterations has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gases “by about 40 percent over the industrial era.” Humans are the source of most greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide — and show little repentance for abuse of the planet. The report concludes that “sustained global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” is critical to slowing economic and physical destruction due to climate change over this next century.

“Two pieces of evidence were recently presented to substantiate the views held by most geologists that someday there will be no frozen North and that vessels will sail in Arctic seas now imperiled by ice floes… What happens if all the ice should melt? According to Dr W.J. Humphreys of the United States Weather Bureau, the ocean levels would be raised 151 feet, which means that Manhattan Island would be completely inundated, and some of the world’s most fertile regions would be destroyed.” ~Waldemar Kaempfert, The New York Times... January 28, 1934.

“Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a ‘tipping point,’ and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday… The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.” ~John Schwartz, The New York Times... January 21, 2019.

Mr Kaempfert’s “someday” is edging closer. The knowledge exists to build on positive actions that have thus far prevented ecological disaster.

Climate change is a reality. We can let the sky fall and waters rise — or hold them in place through continued attention to progress made and small actions that add up to greater successes in preserving our finite resources.

NEAT meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm at C.H. Booth Library. The public is invited.

 

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