Cyclone Pam Is Just the Start

vanuatu
In the wake of island nation Vanuatu’s devastation by Cyclone Pam, in which 320 mile-per-hour winds killed dozens of people and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital city of Port Vila, public health experts fear that the country’s ruined infrastructure will result in mass starvation and epidemics of disease.
An aerial view of the destruction after Cyclone Pam hit Port Vila, capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on March 17, 2015. EDGAR SU/REUTERS

As the rate of global climate change continues to increase, such tragedies will become more and more common around the world. Vanuatu is not alone. New Yorkers, for example, received a dire warning recently from the New York City Panel on Climate Change: Sea levels and temperatures have risen dramatically over the past few decades, and that rise will only accelerate more rapidly in the coming years, putting the city at serious risk for flooding.

According to the report, mean annual temperatures have increased 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, precipitation has increased 8 inches over the same time period, and sea levels in New York City have risen over a foot, which is twice the global rate of rising.

While these changes in temperature may seem insubstantial—none of us might notice, for example, if room temperature changed by a few degrees Fahrenheit—these changes have enormous implications for the environment and its inhabitants, particularly humans.

Take a look. Temperatures are projected to increase by nearly 6 degrees by 2050; heat waves will be more common; precipitation will increase up to 11 percent by 2050; and sea levels will rise up to 21 inches by 2050, up to 39 inches by 2080 and a worst-case situation of six feet by 2100.

As a result of climate change that has already occurred, we are now experiencing more powerful storms, resulting in more city damage. In Brooklyn, thousands of families were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded entire neighborhoods and ruined many homes, some of which have not been rebuilt. Worryingly, many experts now believe that a worse storm could occur within the next few years.

We cannot allow this to continue. The problem of global climate change requires a global solution. We must work with other nations and their people to support the development of renewable energy and to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide that contribute to drastic changes in our climate.

We already have much of the technology we will need. We have electric cars, commercially available in the United States at prices that decrease every year. We have wind turbines and solar panels, which continue to increase in capacity. None of these policies will, by itself, reverse the effects of climate change. But a flexible approach to the problem, in which we consider all of the possibilities, offers us considerable hope for the future.

This flexible approach to climate change is not a Republican or a Democratic idea. Regardless of our partisan affiliation, we all have a responsibility to protect our earth and its people, as well as a profound concern for the generations that will follow us.

Yet today there are still dinosaurs roaming the halls of Congress, who insist that we burn fossil fuels, and nothing other than fossil fuels, to produce our energy, a policy that will only exacerbate the problem.

Despite the challenges that exist, we remain optimistic. The women and men determining national policy on renewable energy and climate change are ultimately elected. If we raise our voices and organize on behalf of the broad interests of society as a whole, rather than the narrow interests of fossil fuel producers, we will influence the debate of climate change and elect leaders who are committed to this effort.

As the United Nations this year brings together representatives from every country to work toward a solution that accounts for the different needs of nations, we have a real opportunity to lead that process. President Barack Obama’s historic agreement with Taiwan and his recent trip to India, to emphasize and commit to greenhouse gas emission reductions, have the potential to provide a model for the entire world. This is an all-hands-on-deck approach to developing policies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and expand our capacity to create energy from renewable resources. No one is exempt.

We cannot afford delay, especially as Vanuatu-type storms become more common. With each year, the problem becomes more serious, and the range of potential solutions more limited.

We encourage you to demand action from your elected officials on this issue. We have the ability to mitigate the effects of climate change. We need only the resolve to act. Now is the time.

Yvette Clarke represents the 9th Congressional District of New York and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Dr. Michael Shank is director of media strategy at Climate Nexus and an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

BY YVETTE CLARKE AND DR. MICHAEL SHANK 3/19/15
Newsweek

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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