Find way to help, act

Jan 19, 2020 Parkersburg News & Sentinel Letter to the Editor by Aaron Dunbar

Like millions of people around the world, I’ve watched heartbroken from afar as Australia’s hellish wildfires devastate the nation. These have been the worst fires seen in the country’s history, so far killing a total of 25 humans, scorching 25 million acres of land, and ending the lives of a scarcely fathomable 1 BILLION animals.

Words cannot express the enormity of the crisis still unfolding overseas. Even more horrifying, however, is the fact that such tragedies will continue to plague societies around the world, due to our failure to connect the dots between these worsening, once-natural disasters and climate change.

A 2008 report by Australia’s own government predicted that climate change would begin to set off earlier and more intense wildfire seasons beginning around 2020. “We knew this was going to happen,” says Australian climate scientist Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick, even as her government continues to ignore its own scientists’ findings.

It’s an all too familiar story. As Australia’s Prime Minister and coal industry shill Scott Morrison infamously abandoned his burning homeland for a sunny Hawaiian vacation, America’s own leadership continued to betray its citizens on the issue of climate change. Our climate denying President recently pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement, despite 2019 wrapping up the hottest recorded decade in human history. Trump and his party of climate denial extremists continue to strip away protections of our environment and the living beings that inhabit it, ourselves included.

The exhausting refrain is the same as it has been since the very beginning. Again and again we’ve been told there simply isn’t enough evidence to act, that there’s nothing we can do until we’re absolutely CERTAIN climate change is happening.

This is, of course, in spite of the fact that the scientific consensus on climate change reached an unprecedented level of 100 percent in November of last year, according to one report. Even scientists’ crudest early models mapping climate change, dating back to 1970, have proven remarkably accurate in predicting the trajectory of warming — a reality that should chill us to the bone and spur us to action when examining future trends.

The fact of the matter is, climate change is never going to be an absolute certainty in the minds of the average layperson. The science is complex, and can often feel abstract. I have no doubt that even as our coastlines are buried underwater, there will still be holdouts who insist that it’s nothing but the effect of Earth’s naturally occurring climate cycles.

We are as certain as we’re ever going to be while still maintaining some chance of mitigating climate catastrophe. How many more tragedies like the Australian wildfires can we stomach before we feel compelled to act? I’m honestly afraid to find out.

For those who wish to contribute to Australian relief efforts, please consider donating to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, the Australian Red Cross, and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. For anyone looking to get involved in the climate fight locally, consider joining Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action today!