I’m sure many people have been sharing the growing uneasiness I have felt this year as one extreme weather disaster after another pounded the U.S. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Marie were each in their own way unprecedented: bigger, longer, slower so that their intensity broke once-in-25,000-year records. I was shocked to see recent pictures of streets in Miami on a clear day with several inches of water covering them, result of a normal high tide. Can you imagine having to accept the Ohio River running in the streets of Parkersburg once or twice a week?
Americans don’t know much about what’s happening in the rest of the world, but events of the past year are too much to take in. Catastrophic flooding occurred in Guatemala, Columbia, Peru, India, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Bangladesh. The unprecedented fires in California reflect years of drought, but there were also unprecedented wildfires in Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, and Chile.
Heat waves kill more people than floods. It was 106 degrees in San Francisco Sept. 1 this year. Records were broken worldwide: Athens, Greece was 111, Australia 117, Turkey 113, Kuwait 124, India 123, Baghdad 124. In July it reached 129 in Basra, Iraq and Turbat, Pakistan. The heat index in Iraq was 165 degrees! We can dismiss occasional extreme weather events as “just the weather,” but these are patterns that look to be a new normal that mean masses of people are going to have to migrate just to survive.
In times like this we need to look to leaders who want to ensure our children and grandchildren have a livable planet. Just last week, the National Climate Assessment, which was mandated by Congress back in 1990 to be issued every four years, produced 2,000 pages of documentation and stated “there is no convincing alternative explanation” for the warming of our planet than human caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite this grim picture, I have been encouraged by actions around the world that show that we can change the future. I learned about them from the work of Al Gore and the Climate Leadership Corps he founded. I have personally been inspired to take action and I think you will, too, if you learn more about it. Join us Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at WVU-P Theater for a showing of “An Inconvenient Sequel” a film that details what Gore and many others around the world are doing to give our children a livable future. It’s a small investment of your time to become educated about the most important issue facing our nation and our world today.