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Wight/My Turn: We’re burning up

The latest global-warming-burning/climate change research is considerably more dire and threatening today than reports issued in 2007 by the United Nations. According to world-renown oceanographer, John Englander, “The current rate of warming today is occurring more than 10,000 times faster than the previous catastrophic warming event that occurred 65 million years ago. It is this unprecedented rate of warming that is a cause for huge concern.”

Michael Casey, reporting for the Associated Press from Doha, Qatar last year, said: “An area of Arctic sea ice bigger than the United States melted this year according to the U.N. weather agency, which said the dramatic decline illustrates that climate change is happening ‘before our eyes.’ In a report released at U.N climate talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, the World Meteorological Organization said the Arctic ice melt was one of a myriad of extreme and record-breaking weather events to hit the planet in 2012. Droughts devastated nearly two-thirds of the U.S. and western Russia and southern Europe. Floods swamped West Africa and heat waves left much of the Northern Hemisphere sweltering.”

This is dire climate news.

We’ve already heated-up our atmosphere 0.8 degrees Celsius, which doesn’t sound like much, but actually is because our Earth hasn’t been this hot since 122,000 years ago! If we go over 2 degrees Celsius, which we’re now on track to do with “business-as-usual,” we’re looking at 30 to 70 percent of all plant, animal, and humans going extinct — and many climate scientists believe even this may be a conservative estimate. I believe we have until 2020 to achieve something significant. After 2020 you can stick a fork in us because we’re basically cooked and done, as in “burnt toast!”

We Americans don’t realize that our Earth is burning up today! Large swatches of Greece, Australia, and Russia have all been on fire. Parts of California have been on fire every year since 2000. Colorado was on fire for over two straight months last summer. In 2005, the heat in France was so intense over 40,000 people died of heat-stroke. Three months ago in Australia, the thermometer hit 125F. If our atmosphere, oceans, and land all continue to heat up, how long will it be before our grasslands, forests, and crops are on fire?

No country will be safe from the ravages of Global Warming. Reporting last December in the New York Times, John Eligon reminds us all how huge and severe global burning truly is: “Even as summer swelter has given way to frost, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. remains in a drought, with forest fires still burning, winter crops choking in parched soil and barges scraping the murky bottoms of sunken rivers. More than 62 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, compared with just over 29 percent at this time last year!”

In an April 12 USA Today article, reporter Doyle Rice wrote, “The temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has been essentially the same for the past decade or so, providing ammunition for skeptics of human-caused climate change.” Unfortunately, eight of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2000 and our oceans are absorbing it all, and it is this ocean heat that drives colossal hurricanes.

Last January, conservation biologist Guy McPherson made the rounds here in the Pioneer Valley, and his unabashed climate assessment was incredibly grim. “The (ensuing) environmental catastrophe will likely make the Earth uninhabitable in a matter of decades!” The National Center for Atmospheric Research predicted in January of 2011 that global temperatures are likely, by the end of the century, to cause irreversible feedbacks.

It’s up to ‘We, the people’ to make a difference through collective citizen activism and creative consciousness raising. There’s over 500,000 people living in our bio-region from Brattleboro, Vt., to Hartford, Conn. Can we make a significant difference if we collaborate in unity and solidarity? Yes, I believe we can and we must. Let’s do it!

Douglas E. Wight is an international activist and founder and president of the National Alliance Of Concerned Americans for the Wellbeing of All People and Earth. He lives in Greenfield.

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