Taking climate change seriously

August 6, 2018

After an unusual rainstorm in Santa Fe, The New Mexican ran a front-page story on July 25 with the headline, “A 1,000-year event.” But here’s something that needs to be noted: In the future, this will not be a 1,000-year event. Most of the media in this country appears to be unaware of climate change, which will change our world profoundly.

Human activity is increasing the amount of solar energy being injected into our climate, and as a result we are seeing, and can expect to see continuing:

• Average global temperature increase, year by year.

• More record highs, more record lows, but with highs outnumbering lows.

• More extreme weather of all kinds (like, for example, what happened in Santa Fe recently); more “1,000-year events.”

• More droughts, fires, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, on average, of increasing intensity.

• Sea-level rise, in the long term forcing mass displacement of human population, with attendant social strife.

• Increasing regions of the planet that are uninhabitable by humans because it’s just too hot, again with mass human migration.

• Increasing stress on agriculture.

• Movement of species toward cooler habitat, with many going extinct in the process.

The list goes on. The effects will continue to get worse, year by year, until we do something — actually, until long after we do something. If we quit burning fossil fuels entirely today, it will take another 20 to 30 years for the climate to stabilize. And then, it will not go back “to normal.” It will remain at some warmer, more agitated state that we can scarcely imagine now.

Don’t get the idea that merely transforming entirely our fuel supply is enough. We need to, in addition, take action to remove carbon from our air. There are techno-fixes in the works that may or may not bear fruit. We might also transform our agriculture so that the soil, an amazing potential carbon sink, lives up to its potential. It might well come down to a need for an entirely different economic system that is capable of observing limits.

If a new world war started or if space aliens invaded Earth, I am certain that The New Mexican would devote a significant portion of its space to coverage every single day, for the duration. Why do you not cover this equally huge threat to humankind? The “1,000-year event” is no longer a 1,000-year event, and we deserve to know why, to see the bigger picture. Please, take this seriously.

Chuck Wright has been a resident of Dixon for seven years and is active in matters of climate and energy.

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