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Ready to Talk About Climate Change

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on October 30, 2012

Are we as a nation finally ready to talk about climate change?

A fifth of the US population has been buffeted by a monstrous hurricane.  The federal government was shut down in our capital city.  Dozens of cities and towns face catastrophic flooding.  Lower Manhattan was swamped by sea water.  High winds were felt as far west as Chicago. 

Millions of people – five million? Six? Seven? -- were left without power, in a nation that depends on electricity for light, heat and connectivity.

Some 12,500 flights were cancelled, with air traffic disruptions rippling out nationally and internationally. 

The storm caused deaths as well as destruction.  We mourn 16 deaths in the US, at current count, and 69 in the Caribbean, of which 52 were in Haiti. 

Yet as bad as it was (and as I write this, the damage has not yet ended), the worst may not be this storm but those that lie ahead.  Climate change has created a world where weather patterns are disrupted and extreme weather events increase.  Higher global temperatures cause more evaporation from the ocean; more evaporation means more water available to form hurricanes and other storms.  The result:  more frequent major storms, more intense precipitation.

More events like Hurricane Sandy.

That’s not the kind of world any of us want to live in.

There is only one way to slow climate change and eventually reverse it.  It’s to burn less fossil fuel.  Stop burning coal.  Stop burning oil and wean ourselves off natural gas.  Develop our solar energy, wind power, geothermal resources.  Build the alternatives. Create a way of life that is clean, healthy, and safe.

If we intend to avoid a life of crippling storms, unbearable heat, expanded disease ranges and diminished food supply, that’s what we have to do.

It’s just that simple, that complex, and that necessary.

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