“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
— Albert Einstein
A smoky haze often inundates the skies over the Coachella Valley — an arid landscape exacerbated by a changing climate and 21 years of drought — diminishing bluer skies and imperiling our water supply.
Thousands of “snowbirds” descend annually on our region between November and April to escape freezing temperatures in other parts and bask in the bluer skies of our desert. A recent study projects an increase of days above 85 degrees during this season to increase by up to 150% by the the century’s end, devastating our dominant industry — tourism.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts warming temperatures (and colossal wildfires) to continue everywhere. Not surprisingly, 2020 ranks as the second-hottest year on record. (The world’s hottest seven years on record have all occurred in the past decade and a half.)
Every year, these immensely disturbing milestones briefly catch the spotlight in the 24-hour news cycle then quickly fade away and are forgotten. But even the most politically cautious among us find it difficult to avoid the science being shouted from the rooftops.
The IPCC has stated, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.” Human-caused global warming is undeniable, and its impact is visible everywhere. The current rate of warming (0.32 degrees Fahrenheit every decade since 1980) continues to accelerate indicating a trend that every year will be one of the hottest on record.
The news for our world’s climate is bad — the impacts of global warming are inevitable —and the projections of more bad news will continue to come.
Unless change occurs.
And though it’s difficult to remain positive and easier to block out the bad news, what the future holds is dependent on us.
David Attenborough’s documentary, A Life on Our Planet (2020) — offering the broadcaster’s perspective on the grievous loss of animal species and global wilderness places worldwide — includes a hopeful vision for the future that talks about solutions, of which there are many.
The collective action of humans everywhere can slow climate change and avoid irreversible “tipping point” thresholds into an utterly different world. Every individual effort matters, lowering long-term impacts and reducing the causes of global warming.
We must do what we can.
The time is short. And we’ve known for half a century the consequences of adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Voice your concerns. find out what your local governments are doing and vote for change — even if that means the imposition of inconvenient costs in taxes or fees.
Determine what you can do within your family’s resources to reduce emissions from electricity, heating and transportation.
Eat smarter, and consume less meat which reduces agricultural demands for energy and water.
Reduce, reuse and recycle.
And support organizations that facilitate the necessary technological and social transition, especially for disadvantaged communities.
We must make the effort.
Otherwise, bluer skies will be a thing of the past, every future year for the rest of our lives will be one of the hottest on record, and 2020 will wind up being one of the coolest years of this century.
Michael C. Seeger, a poet, writer and educator, lives in Cathedral City. Email him at email@example.com.
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