These stories jumped out at me this week, as clear evidence that we are soon going to “hit the wall” as our consumer-driven, “the economy is what counts, all the rest is noise” ways push our planet to the limit, and beyond. What will it take for us to realize that as our water, air, and land goes, so go we? We aren’t viable if we have to breathe and eat toxins, our lands aren’t arable, and our oceans are so acidified from absorbing our carbon dioxide emissions that mass extinction of marine life happens.
Here are some of the stories that drove this point home to me this week:
Weather-related disasters are here to stay, say scientists:
Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat.
From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan, a sweltering southern Ontario and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.
The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says — although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming. The experts now see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They’ll discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under United Nations, U.S. and British government sponsorship.
“There is no time to waste,” because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott… Read the full article on the Weather 360 blog at The Star.com.
‘Global Weirding’: Extreme Climate Events Dominate The Summer:
A heatwave in Russia is sparking wildfires that are driving residents from Moscow and devastating the country’s wheat crop. A fifth of Pakistan is underwater and millions are deluged by floods in Asia. Another heatwave is torturing Mexico and the East Coast of the United States. An incomprehensibly large chunk of ice has broken off a glacier in Greenland, the most significant climate event there in 50 years.
Most scientists caution that no single event can be tied specifically to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But climate-change deniers quickly point to the first snowfall in winter as evidence against global warming. If that’s the standard, the extreme climate events all across the globe must say something about whether climate change is already upon us. Indeed, the regularity of the events is beginning to undermine the descriptor “extreme”. Extreme is the new normal…Read the full article on The Huffington Post.
Jersey Shore: Dead Fish Wash Ashore in Thousands For Second Time This Week On East Coast:
NBC Philadelphia reports that tens of thousands of dead menhaden fish washed ashore Wednesday on a New Jersey beach along Delaware Bay.
The incident is strikingly similar to an occurrence from Monday, when thousands of dead menhaden also washed ashore over 200 miles away in Fairhaven, MA…To read the full article, go to The Huffington Post.
And, by Marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor Rikki Ott: Seafood Safety and Politics Don’t Mix: Opening of Gulf Fisheries At Odds with Evidence of Harm
…I have been in the Gulf since May 3 and have witnessed the outbreak of a public-health epidemic as the oil and dispersant came ashore. Every day now, former workers, Gulf coast residents, and visitors share similar stories with me of respiratory problems, central nervous system problems, chemical sensitivities, or bad skin rashes after exposure to air or water in the Gulf — predictable illnesses from chemical exposure, all of which were avoidable given adequate warning and protection.
Stories of illnesses persist despite assurances from four federal agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the U.S. Coast Guard — that no levels of oil or dispersant measured in Gulf water or air were found to be unsafe.
I try to focus on the positive things that each of us can do to make the planet a better, not a worse, place for the next generation, so I apologize if you are feeling overwhelmed or despairing. Each of us can make a difference – but we do need to acknowledge how bad things have gotten so that a sense of urgency accompanies our actions. See Bill McKibbon’s latest post, We’re Hot As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take It Any More. Remember Joe Romm’s words: “Get informed, get outraged, and then get politically active.” If you need ideas, head over to 350.org and sign up to join or organize a work party on 10/10/10 – be part of the global “get to work on climate change” party.