Year 3, Month 7, Day 3: Today Is The Tomorrow You Worried About Yesterday

The Appleton Post-Crescent (WI) has a shrill editorial from a chap named Howard Brown, titled, “Commentary: Climate change isn’t fictional.” Indeed:

Is it just me, or has it been a little warm around here lately? Or warmer earlier? The early and unusually mild spring here in Wisconsin may be nature’s way of reminding us that the clock is ticking on climate change and we need to take action before it’s too late.

While stationed in Kangerlussuac, Greenland, 50 years ago, I noted my airbase was 4 miles west of the Russell Glacier grinding down from the ice cap. Looking at today’s satellite images, this glacier has retreated to the east toward the ice cap, easily noted from the satellite. The retreat averages 1,000 feet per year, producing a torrent of melt water that flows down the fjord and to the sea.

Glacial retreat is one indicator that global warming is taking its toll. Today, in more populated areas of the earth, disappearing glaciers are responsible for drought, loss of irrigation water and less drinking water. As much as 54 cubic miles of ice disappear each year in Antarctica, 24 cubic miles per year in Greenland. As this ice melts, ocean levels rise and coastal regions flood.

Read the comments for the full flavor. SOS. Sent June 22:

When we listen to climate-change denialists, we hear it over and over again: while the planet’s climate is changing, there’s no reason to worry; it’s all happened before, and anyway, there’s no way humans’ greenhouse emissions could be involved.

Well, Earth’s climate has indeed been changing for billions of years. But in general, those changes have happened over many thousands of years, giving ecosystems a chance to adapt. Fossil evidence and the geological record strongly suggest that when an external event accelerated those slow transformations, the resulting climate change was catastrophic for many of the world’s inhabitants (65 million years ago, an asteroid hit the Earth — and the dinosaurs lost the world they’d lived in for eons). The overwhelming climatological consensus is that we stand on the brink of a similarly abrupt and equally devastating shift.

With our civilization now having transformed almost fifty percent of the planet’s surface, it’s increasingly apparent that humanity has inadvertently crafted its very own asteroid. If we wish to sustain our species over the tumultuous environmental disruptions promised for the next ten thousand years, we can no longer afford the luxury of denial. The dinosaurs probably thought they’d live forever, too.

Warren Senders

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