Climate change is a reality we can no longer ignore, and we need to start connecting the dots: Record-breaking heat, natural disasters, rising sea levels and melting glaciers are not isolated anomalies. Rather, such events are the “new normal” as the Earth warms in response to increases in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The National Academies of Science of all the major industrialized nations conducting research on climate change have all issued statements that climate change is a real and serious problem which must be addressed soon in order to avert much more serious disasters.
The Pentagon, too, has issued several plans to deal with the civil and international unrest caused by climate-induced food and water shortages and the influx of environmental refugees.
In the U.S., the public has not regarded climate change as a high priority, likely in part due to a vast public relations campaign bankrolled by the fossil fuels industry, designed to cast doubt on climate science. (The Koch Brothers alone have spent nearly sixty million on climate denial front groups, for example.) But a new poll conducted at Yale University shows a sharp increase in the number of Americans who are concerned about climate change. It seems that recent weather extremes have caught the public’s attention: Temperatures in the U.S. in March were 8.6 degrees above normal according to NASA, far exceeding all records since 1895 when records were first kept. More than 15,000 temperature records were broken in March nationally, and for the first three months of the year temperatures were 6 degrees above average.
No one heat wave or natural disaster can be linked directly to climate change, but such events do raise awareness that something is different now. And on Saturday, May 5, environmentalists all over the world created events designed to raise public awareness and lead more people to “connect the dots”. The organization responsible for this, and other, global days of action is 350.org.
The number 350 (CO2 parts per million) stands for the amount of C02 that climate scientists tell us is compatible with human civilization as we know it. The atmosphere is currently at 396 ppm (parts per million). The events are designed to call attention not only to the facts of climate change, but to the many solutions already available to cut greenhouse gas emissions. For more information about these events, and what you can do, visit <www.350.org>.
It is wise for us to educate ourselves about the probable impacts of climate change in our area and to do what we can to prepare for them. One prediction of the climate models is for more weather extremes—more precipitation as well as more drought. Also more precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow. Therefore for regions dependent upon the mountain snowpack for water, there may well be shortages in hot summer months.
Developing methods to conserve in many ways now will help to avoid shortages and the restrictive measures that can go along with them later.
Susan Finsen is a professor of philosophy at California State University, San Bernardino, CA, with a special emphasis in philosophy of biology, applied ethics and experimental psychology. She co-authored the book, The Animal Rights Movement in America. Prof. Finsen is also an animal rights activist and director of ‘Californians for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’.
350 MEANS SAFETY from the CLIMATE CRISIS
350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteers in over 188 countries.
350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million (ppm) to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.
At 350.org, we’re building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and push for policies that will put the world on track to get to 350 ppm. To join us, go to: http://www.350.org/