By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press
With apologies to Harry Truman, if you can’t take the heat, get off the planet! Two generations from now, in time for our grandchildren, the icy moons of Saturn may have the summer appeal of Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore. Scientists now predict that average summertime temperatures in several East Coast cities will rise 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2080, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unabated, according to recent findings of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The temperature swell is expected to create rolling blackouts, an unprecedented rise in sea levels, crop failures and famine, the extinction of certain plant and animal species, and record deaths among the elderly from heat prostration. Anyone for lollygagging on Rhea in July where temperatures are a nippy –281 degrees F in the sun and –364 degrees in the shade?
Realtors take note: for those choosing to stay, with anticipated coastal flooding, the water views of tomorrow are today’s cottages ten blocks from the beach!
Hyperbole aside, what we have here is a failure to communicate, as the captain of Road Prison 36 barked in the movie, Cool Hand Luke. In spite of all the dire predictions, all the hand-wringing, all the gratuitous political statements, all the drop-dead statistics spilling out of official reports, gas prices sliding to $4-a-gallon, polar ice caps melting faster than a popsicle in August, and an alarming increase in killer storms and tornadoes, we collectively seem to have taken on the spirit of Alfred E. Neuman: what, me worry?
Sure, many of us talk a good game, myself included, but the rhetoric falls flat against the facts. “It was probably always too much to believe that human beings would be responsible stewards of the planet,” Jeffrey Kluger of Time Magazine noted two months ago in a cover report. “We may be the smartest of all the animals, endowed with exponentially greater powers of insight and abstraction, but we’re animals all the same.” The feverish planet Earth “needs a cure,” he wrote, “There’s a role for big thinkers, power players, those with deep pockets—and the rest of us.”
For the rest of us, the time to act is now, in our day-to-day lifestyles, in the choices we make, and in the positions we take, and the policies we support—some of them symbolic, others more life altering. Acting together, one person can slow global warming.
“People have to take it upon themselves because the governments are not going to do it.” Rick Healy, co-author of the WHOI report, said Monday in a Cape Cod Times interview.
Something to ponder as we think about the future and about our grandchildren.