By Huck Fairman
Our region has certainly seen greater than average heat, some powerful downpours, and even several tornadoes. But as most of us know, we have not experienced the extremes ranging across much of the planet. Great Britain just baked under record 104-degree temperatures. Spain and France have also suffered from heat and wildfires. Sydney, Australia was severely flooded by torrential rains. Karachi too, was flooded by rain.
In contrast, our Western states have suffered from drought. Rivers and water supplies are down. Lake Mead is at a record low level. Wildfires have burned large regions in New Mexico. Record temperatures have reached into Western Canada.
What’s going on? Unfortunately, it seems that the predictions of many climatologists are coming true. And mankind seems to be the culprit. The emissions our civilization produces have been trapping solar, and manmade, heat that has in the past escaped out of our atmosphere. Many of our activities from transportation, construction and mining to our reducing forests and natural habitats, to even food production combine to change the environmental balances we had long enjoyed. The oceans too are warming and reducing species, corals and kelps.
From the combination of dryness and heat, nations in Africa and the Middle East are not growing the food they need. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has halted or slowed the shipments of wheat to needy nations.
The problems we read or hear about are not only local, or even just regional. They are global.
The United Nations (UN) and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have both warned of these threats and have suggested ways to deal with them, but while some responses have been adopted, the extreme weather, now global in its impact, is undeniable evidence that mankind together must work to reduce emissions and change to more environmentally friendly policies and practices.
A majority of Americans think that Congress should do more about climate change, but while that is true, the extent of the problem, again now global, points to the need for responses and changes at all levels. As has been noted before, the affluent, highly educated Princeton region has invested in many Teslas and other electric vehicles. But now – somehow the benefits from and the needs for – these changes must be more widely acknowledged and embraced. The reports flowing in from around the world show that need is global and urgent. We may well be at a tipping point. This is not something we can ignore.