by Stanley Heller
Below a bland Aug. 26 New York Times headline featured an article that should scare the stuffing out of all of us. It talked about the latest international scientific report that said that greenhouse gases were out of control and we could be setting into motion a process that would raise world sea level 23 feet.
Twenty-three feet! Over the last century sea level has risen less than a foot, but because of just that rise the surge from Hurricane Sandy flooded a good chunk of lower Manhattan. 23 feet would be catastrophic.
The article lays it on the line in the first sentence: “Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem.” The article was written by NYT writer Justin Gillis and he talks about the new conclusions of the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the gold standard of climate science.
These two sentences in Gillis’ article should sound an alarm: “The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet.” Unstoppable!
Now maybe you’re not worried about the future. What about the present? What about torrential rain?
The same New York Times article noted that the IPCC report said that “torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world.” In April 30 people died because of rains and mudslides in the state of Washington. This August was very bad for torrential rain. In one storm in Phoenix more rain fell in a few hours than it usually rains in a whole month. Very heavy rains and mudslides killed 50 in Hiroshima, Japan. Islip, Long Island had a 13” rainfall in one day. Except in Hawaii heavy rains have increased in all U.S. regions. The part of the U.S. with the most increase in torrential rains is the Northeast. Over the last 50 years torrential rainstorms in that region have increased a whopping 71 percent.
There is no reason to throw up your hands. There is still time. In my next article I’ll talk about a noted scientist/engineer who has created plans for a fossil fuel-free, nuclear power-free U.S. that could be achieved in 20 years. It is technically possible and financially possible. The hold-up is political.
Climate rallies in NYC on Sept. 21 and in Bridgeport, Conn., on Sept. 13 … You should go.