IF you were able to enjoy the last days of summer during the long Labor Day weekend with your family, consider yourself blessed.
In many places around the United States, from coast to coast, there are people who are mourning the sudden and unexpected death of loved ones; the destruction of homes, farms, businesses and neighborhoods, the disruption of lives and the seemingly end of long-held hopes and dreams.
These less fortunate people — who are battling the coronavirus pandemic as well, including many kababayans here in America — have been suffering from unimaginable loss because of the wrath of Mother Nature. Just this end of summer, we mourn with people from Louisiana for the destruction brought by Hurricane Ida, the intense flooding in the Northeast, especially in New Jersey and New York because of storms that usually happened in a hundred years, but are now ravaging almost every year and have become even more intense and merciless.
The same is true for the wildfires burning in the west, the historic heatwave in areas like Portland and Washington. These, too, happen every year at an alarming rate.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL, and there is no longer a way to deny nor hide it, despite all the lobby money coming from fossil fuels and the oil industry benefitting politicians who deny climate change for their own political and financial gains, because we ALL feel it.
While there may be natural phenomena that affect changes in climate, Britannica stated this does not tell the complete and whole story. Based on longitudinal studies, facts and figures, “human activities also affect climate, and a consensus of scientists are sure that the impact of these activities is playing an ever-greater role in determining what form Earth’s climate takes.”
Let us consider these facts as chronicled by Britannica:
“Some 97 percent of scientists involved in climate research agree that it is extremely likely that much of the warming observed since the early 1900s results from human activities. Several lines of evidence support this.
One of the main strands has to do with the concept of radiative forcing—that is, the heating effect provided by different influencing factors (such as the albedo, or reflectivity, of the land and water and the concentrations of certain gases and particulates in the atmosphere). A component of radiative forcing can be positive (in that it contributes to warming) or negative (in that it has the effect of cooling Earth’s surface).
If we consider warming from an energy-budget perspective, on average about 342 watts of solar radiation strike each square meter of Earth’s surface per year, and this quantity can in turn be related to a rise or fall in Earth’s surface temperature. The influence of positive forcings (which are mainly dominated by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases [carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and other gases that absorb infrared energy released by Earth’s surface after sunset each day]) has outpaced the cooling influence of aerosols (such as sulfur dioxide from volcanic eruptions and industry) and other negative forcings, adding the equivalent of a little more than two watts per square meter since the middle of the 20th century.
Other lines of evidence, including decreasing Arctic sea ice coverage and rising global temperature averages (showing that many of the warmest years have occurred since 1980), support the argument that Earth’s global and regional climates are changing rapidly, very likely much faster than they would if Earth’s climate changes were purely driven by natural forces.”
We hear politicians arguing against man’s culpability in climate change and voting against legislation that will change the status quo — otherwise, they fall out of grace from their well-oiled campaign donors.
Others who define their manhood and success with the gas guzzler sports car and trucks and ridicule other industrialized countries for working together to combat climate change. The Paris Agreement is one of them.
Quoting the report of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“The Paris Agreement is a landmark international accord that was adopted by nearly every nation in 2015 to address climate change and its negative impacts. The agreement aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, while pursuing the means to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.
The agreement includes commitments from all major emitting countries to cut their climate pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time. The pact provides a pathway for developed nations to assist developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, and it creates a framework for the transparent monitoring, reporting, and ratcheting up of countries’ individual and collective climate goals.
Let us filter through disinformation and lies and stick to FACTS. According to National Geographic, we already have pervasive and striking evidence of rising temperatures.
“Thermometer records kept over the past century and a half show Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius), and about twice that in parts of the Arctic. That doesn’t mean temperatures haven’t fluctuated among regions of the globe or between seasons and times of day. But by analyzing average temperatures all over the world, scientists have demonstrated an unmistakable upward trend,” the National Geographic reported.
“This trend is part of climate change, which many people consider synonymous with global warming. Scientists prefer to use “climate change” when describing the complex shifts now affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems.”
“Climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts.”
Scientists have ways to measure climate change following strict scientific protocols. Quoting the National Geographic:
“Although we can’t look at thermometers going back thousands of years, we do have other records that help us figure out what temperatures were like in the distant past. For example, trees store information about the climate in the place they’re rooted. Each year trees grow thicker and form new rings. In warmer and wetter years, the rings are thicker. Old trees and wood can tell us about conditions hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
“Windows on the past are also buried in lakes and oceans. Pollen, particles, and dead creatures fall to the bottom of oceans and lakes each year, forming sediments. Sediments contain a wealth of information about what was in the air and water when they fell. Scientists reveal this record by inserting hollow tubes into the mud to collect layers of sediment going back millions of years.
“For a direct look at the atmosphere of the past, scientists drill cores through the Earth’s polar ice sheets. Tiny bubbles trapped in the ice are actually samples from the Earth’s past atmosphere, frozen in time. That’s how we know that the concentrations of greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution are higher than they’ve been for hundreds of thousands of years.
“Computer models help scientists to understand the Earth’s climate, or long-term weather patterns. Models also allow scientists to make predictions about the future climate by simulating how the atmosphere and oceans absorb energy from the sun and transport it around the globe.”
TIME IS CRITICAL. We ALL need to act now or our planet will be doomed. We need to tell our representatives to support legislation that will protect our environment and reduce, if not totally eradicate adding heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. We should also support legislation that will help build much-needed infrastructure to help achieve this goal.
If we fail to act because of our short-sightedness and lack of true love and compassion for the future generation who will inherit the planet we will leave behind, then our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will not be able to enjoy what shaped our childhood and adult life — drinking clean water and eating safe seafood, livestock and vegetables, breathing fresh air, swimming in the sea and the rivers, hiking the hills and mountains, seeing the beautiful trees and flowers, and hearing the birds sing. And it could be worse.
“An increasing number of scientists wonder if global and regional climates are changing too quickly for many forms of life to adapt and survive,” the Britannica chronicled. This means if many forms of life fail to adapt and survive, then we are all doomed because we all live in the same eco-system. We, humans along with other living things are all in this together.
We are all but custodians of this planet. Let us not betray our children and the next generations.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at email@example.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.