A Global Warning about Global Warming

Period 1 Honors Journalism Editorial
EE Contribution

The entire island of Puerto Rico was without power for more than a year.  North Carolina suffered $17 billion of damage due to hurricane Florence. The entire Florida town of Mexico Beach was flattened in hurricane Michael.  And right here in Trumbull, on September 25th, we received 7.3 inches of rain in a little more than an hour. The resulting flash flood forced the school to close for three days, and caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the school and the community at large.

The weather is getting weird… and costly.  And the world has reached consensus about the cause.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report that says if the global temperature continues to increase at the current rate, then by the year 2040, we will reach a tipping point of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

If this was to occur, then the cost of the damage worldwide could reach an estimated $54 trillion, not to mention the impact that it would have on the lives of people world wide–especially the poor and those who live in low lying, coastal areas.  Cities or even whole countries could disappear beneath rising oceans causing refugee crises on an unprecedented scale.

The island nation of Kiribati has taken what action it can by purchasing land in nearby Fiji in case the sea level rises to the point that it disappears.  

However, some nations are finding that the fix is very costly.  In fact, areas which have begun to work to reduce their carbon impact are seeing increased costs without any apparent benefit.  In Australia, a country suffering through a record drought, the city of Sydney has found their electricity generation charges to have doubled since they changed to renewable energy sources.

And, to be honest, there are pressing economic concerns which should give countries pause–for example, the IPCC has said that in order for measures to reduce carbon emissions to be effective, there would have to be a tax on carbon dioxide emissions as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100, according to the New York Times.  It’s for reasons like this that the U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Brazil’s new president has said he would pull out as well.

In the end, ignoring the long term problem because of the immediate cost is short sighted and ignores a different UN report says that renewable energy represents an area of potential growth–to the tune of $26 trillion up through 2030.

While the potential fix is still something to be worked out, one thing that is not in dispute is that the dangers of climate change and the impact of our current energy use is no longer an issue up for debate.  

Currently, in place of a nation wide plan by the world’s largest economy, the U.S., individual states are left to enact the necessary changes to stave off the coming crisis. Some states have joined the Paris agreement and the state of Washington is poised to vote on a referendum to institute the nation’s first carbon tax. While it is laudable that states are experimenting with ways to address this issue, we need a nationwide coordinated effort, not to mention a worldwide effort as the Paris Accord represented.

As younger people who will have to bear the brunt of the impact of decisions made today become able to vote, they are voting for candidates who take the science of this issue seriously.

Any candidate who persists in thinking they can continue to avoid tackling this most pressing of issues will soon find themselves voted out of office.  Hopefully, it won’t be too late by then.

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