My Turn: It’s not too late to give our kids a better future

Published: 5/6/2019 12:10:17 AM

The recent Earth Day reminded us again that the bad news keeps coming. Hurricanes, wildfires, drought, unpredictable rain and snow storms, more acidic oceans, and rising seas are bringing more disease and more misery. Global warming is creating many shifts in growing regions and hastening the disappearance of animal species.

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document that states again that Americans need to start planning for climate change. The EPA director, Andrew Wheeler, stated at his confirmation hearings that climate change “is a huge issue that needs to be addressed globally.”

Researchers have suggested that unless the United States slashes the use of fossil fuels and the accompanying increase in carbon emissions into the atmosphere, climate change will cost, just our country, billions of dollars annually by 2100. Even today, with the emergence of renewables and the growing awareness of the importance of solar and wind energy, 70% of electricity demand in the world is fueled by coal, a fossil fuel. The United States and China are using fossil fuels to satisfy ever-growing energy demand.

The evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming. Deserts are growing larger. Insect life is decreasing by as much as 45% in some areas. Coral reefs are collapsing, and the attendant marine life they harbor is disappearing, affecting the ocean’s food chain. Seas off the East Coast of the United States have risen nine inches since 1900.

The U.S. military, intelligence officials and the White House Office of Science and Technology are ringing alarm bells over the link between climate change and more severe wildfires, floods and storms., the U.S. government’s main climate change website, showcases how weather science has evolved and data is collected, and how computing power has enhanced how researchers understand this problem. The American Meteorological Society has compiled evidence that human-caused carbon emissions have contributed to record heat waves, drought, wildfires and intense storms. The polar ice caps are melting with coastal cities impacted. In 2016 alone the Alaskan shoreline retreated an average of 75 feet. One wildfire in California last year killed 85 people and cost $16.5 billion in damages.

Despair is not the answer to this problem. At least eight of the world religions and major philosophical societies believe in the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” This reminds us to sacrifice and act together for the common good.

What can you do? Educate yourself about the problem of burning fossil fuels. Write letters to your newspaper, TV stations, and local and state governments demanding action in reducing carbon emissions. Help spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Support community efforts to increase solar, wind and water, and renewable options to mitigate climate change.

We can do this! Make a real change in what looks like a depressing future for our children and those not yet born. Will we save ourselves? It is up to you and all of us working together to make a new way forward now.

(Robin Burns Hutchins and Rebecca B. MacKenzie live in Claremont.)

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