Niagara Gazette — A good friend and I had a brief, but passionate and at times, rather heated conversation recently about the veracity of the climate change deniers claims that the whole issue is nothing more than a hoax.
Before long, our competing diatribes turned to economics, then, as usual, to politics. By the end of the discussion, after we had thoroughly vented our mutual frustration with the apparent lack of action on the matter, and exhausted with nothing more to say, we wished each other well, and went on about our business as if our conversation had never happened.
While we generally agree that something is definitely happening to the climate, we did not settle the most perplexing part of the controversy; why isn’t anyone doing anything besides talking about it?
What are we waiting for, the next Typhoon Haiyan or Hurricane Sandy, the next wild tornado outbreak to sweep across the plains, the next California drought, the next polar vortex event to jam up the New York Power Authority’s water intakes on the Niagara River threatening to deprive HUGE chunks of the Northeast of electricity , the next “once every one-hundred year” rainstorm to overwhelm the entire wastewater treatment system here?
It reminds me of that old saying attributed to Mark Twain, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
Like any problem, the first step toward solution is acknowledgement that one exists in the first place. Denying that it’s there won’t fix it, but neither will talking it to death resolve anything; at some point, before it’s too late, you actually have to do something.
Imagine that you and a few others are standing on the railroad tracks peering at a dim light in the distance. It could be nothing important, but eventually it starts to look like it might be moving toward you, getting closer quickly. As it approaches, the ground rumbles, and what was a dim light in the distance a moment ago, is now a blinding flash as the once faint sound becomes a deafening roar and suddenly its clear; it’s a huge locomotive and its speeding directly toward you.
Some might decide to stay put to “study” it, while others ignore it all together, pretending it isn’t there, claiming it’s an illusion, but some will move off the tracks just in the nick of time and try to warn others about what’s coming, and help prepare for it, or try to prevent it altogether.
Not the perfect metaphor, I know, but you get my point, hopefully; this is real folks…look out the window.
Sure, some of us have experienced far worse; heck, we survived the Blizzards of ‘77 and ‘93. As some might say, “This ain’t nothin’” and those who’d say that would be absolutely right; this “ain’t nothin’”…this is HUGE to quote a once popular car-sales advertising term also heard ad-nauseam in this neck of the woods for years. And if some scientific prognosticators are correct, to use another famous Latin phrase, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
One of the earliest and perhaps most popular warnings, Al Gore’s startling 2008 film, An Inconvenient Truth attempted to bring the science of climate change to the masses, but, of course, that quickly became the focus of a political debate instead of a signal to pay closer attention to what is going on around us in plain sight.
The economic case for addressing the issue has been made over and over by such renowned economists as Nicholas Stern and too many others to mention here.
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see ipcc.ch) issued what has been called “the most unequivocal report yet” on the connection between human activity and climate change, while too many of those policymakers and politicians who should know better, are still standing on the tracks.
The IPCC will be issuing “Assessment Reports” this year to address various aspects of the issue including reports on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and mitigation. It would be wise to pay close attention to what they are saying as the entire planet could be at risk, some places more so than others, and Niagara Falls is no exception.
As a Great Lake city, Niagara Falls will be participating in the Municipal Adaptation and Resiliency Service (MARS), sharing information with other Great Lakes cities about damage caused by severe storms by helping to build a database and other information that might help us as well as our cohorts survive, if not avoid the consequences of more frequent, more severe storms.
For now, the inconvenience of flooded streets and basements pales in comparison to the challenges that others are already facing around the world.
Severe storms in the form of drought as well as typhoons, hurricanes and tornadoes are threatening to wipe out crops and entire communities straining governmental as well as non-governmental relief efforts to the breaking point in some cases.
While there may be plenty of room in and around the tracks for debate about the exact precise causes in some cases, there is neither time, nor room where we’re standing, dead center on the tracks, for foolish discussion about the reality of what is taking place.
Pay closer attention to the discussion, get informed; demand appropriate action by the policymakers now, before its too late!
Climate change is REAL ... its time to act like it!Contact Bill Bradberry at firstname.lastname@example.org