Save the planet

The recent extreme weather that triggered an unprecedented storm known as a derecho front put millions at risk without power and left a death toll of 26 across the eastern United States. Could the heat wave covering over half the nation affecting 150 million Americans and causing a record setting drought along with devastating fires across nine western states be linked to the ever rising tons of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere by consumers and polluters alike?

Now over a dozen climate scientists are speaking out. “What we’re seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer. “It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters.”

Here are some of the facts:

  • 118 degrees in Norton, Kansas (hotter than Death Valley).
  • 15,055 record highs versus only 1,343 record lows so far this year puts the ratio at about 11 to 1 when it is normally about even.
  • 41.5 million acres of western forest killed by the bark beetle due to mild winters.
  • 71% of the country was classified as abnormally dry or worse as of June.
  • Low water levels on the Mississippi River are limiting barges from running at full capacity.

Even more frightening is the failure of politicians to enact policies that might lead us toward a goal of sustainable energy choices worldwide and caps on fossil fuel consumption. Instead we’re going in the opposite direction with natural gas wells by the thousands, a Tar Sands pipeline proposed from border to border and now oil drilling platforms approved in the Arctic seas. Local and national leaders should be held accountable for these failures.

Here in Fluvanna County we’ve failed to put in place even one park-and-ride lot near our population center (Lake Monticello) that would offer residents the option of carpooling. President Obama flew all the way to the Colorado fire zone only to label that raging nightmare a “natural disaster.” As hundreds of firefighters put their lives at risk and four have died in the effort, we should expect a president with the expertise of almost four years in office to take a stand on climate change before the die is cast. He’s the candidate who claims to be moving forward. How many heat waves, droughts or more deadly fires along with widespread crop failures will it take to stir our political leaders to do their job and take action?

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