The intensification, increased frequency, and longer duration of extreme weather events is killing people in the U.S. and around the world. Consider these recent events:
• Since 1998, about 4.5 million people have been hurt by extreme weather. (1)
• Nine of the ten deadliest heat waves in human history have occurred since 2000. (2)
•Following record heat and drought in 2017, Kansas experienced the largest rangeland wildfire in its history, which ranchers dubbed, “Our Katrina”. (3)
• In 2018 and 2019, major droughts have produced food shortages in Australia, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Brazil, Northern Europe, Israel, Afghanistan, South Africa, and other places. (4) Conditions were so bad in South Africa that the metropolis of Cape Town, population 3.7 million, warned residents that taps would soon run dry unless the rains returned. (5)
• 2018 was the hottest year of record in California. The Paradise Fire (aka Camp Fire) started in November and burned out of control for 17 days. It burned 153,000 acres, destroyed 19,000 structures, created $12 billion in damages, and killed 85 people. (6)
• In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with over 54 inches of rain. This was the largest rainstorm in American history. It killed 88 people and caused $125 billion in damages. Warmer air can hold more water and produce heavier rains. Forty percent of the rainfall from this hurricane was directly attributed to climate change. (7)
• Unprecedented flooding is occurring right now in the Midwestern U.S. Historic floods are overtopping levees and inundating the floodplains of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte Rivers. Thus far, thousands of people have been displaced and damages have topped $1 billion. (8)
The future is worse than bleak if we don’t take action now. Here’s WHAT WE MUST DO TO SAVE OURSELVES:
1. VOTE! In every election from national to local, vote only for candidates who endorse the Green New Deal or a similar science-based approach to control climate change. Have your local community pass a Climate Emergency Resolution similar to the one passed in Santa Cruz in 2018 and available for review at https://scruzclimate.org/.
2. URGE OTHERS TO VOTE! Urge your friends and relatives to vote in a similar way — not just in California, but throughout the entire country.
3. DONATE! Donate some of your time or money to support good candidates.
4. VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET! Don’t buy products from companies that deny the reality of climate change, support politicians who deny climate change, and/or have not taken steps to reduce their own carbon footprint. You can check the environmental credentials of those you do business with at this site —https://www.cdp.net/en/companies/companies-scores. If you can’t find specific information about an out-of-state seller, consider the environmental policies of the state where the business is located. Californians can have a huge impact on national policies if they choose wisely where to spend their money.
5. STOP THE BLACKOUT OF CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS. Send emails protesting the news media’s nation-wide censorship of the connection between extreme weather events and climate change. Send emails to TV and radio stations, newspapers, internet media, and your local TV or radio meteorologist to urge them to stop their blackout of the climate change connection. For them to continue their silence is at the least unethical, and at worst could be considered as a crime against humanity.
6. LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Take steps to reduce your own contributions to the production of greenhouse gases (aka your carbon footprint). Visit the website https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/ to get ideas on positive lifestyle changes. Encourage actions at your work place as well to reduce its carbon footprint.
7. SUPPORT ENVIRONMENTAL EFFORTS. Support efforts of environmental groups like the Santa Cruz Climate Action Network (https://scruzclimate.org) or 350.org (www.350.org) to educate the public about the dangers of global warming, lobby our elected officials to take action, and promote climate-friendly alternatives for everyday activities.
ACT NOW — YOU, YOUR FAMILY, AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE AT RISK!
(1) Associated Press. 2019. Extreme Weather Impacts 62 Million People in 2018, UN Report Says. Read online at https://www.apnews.com/cff606610ba84f64849be0f36a39a3a5 and follow the latest extreme weather news at https://weather.com/news.
(2) Vardyanathan, G. 2015. Killer Heat Grows Hotter Around the World. Sci. Amer. Aug. 6, 2015.
(3) Healy, J. 2017. Burying Their Cattle, Ranchers Call Wildfire ‘Our Hurricane Katrina’. New York Times, Mar. 20, 2017.
(4) YouTube.com. May 17, 2019 search for “world’s worst droughts”.
(5) Welch, C. 2018. How Cape Town is Coping with its Worst Drought on Record. Read online at https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/cape-town-running-out-of-water-drought-taps-shutoff-other-cities/.
(6) California Department of Forestry. 2019. Camp Fire Details. Found at cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=2277.
(7) Waldman, S. 2017. Global Warming Tied to Hurricane Harvey. Sci. Amer., Dec. 14, 2017.
(8) NOAA, 2019. National Flood Outlook. Read online at www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/.
McKibben, B. 2019. Falter – Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Henry Holt and Company, New York.