I read a story in my local paper about a man on supervised release from prison driving 115 miles-per hour down a major highway in possession of an illegal gun, serial number filed off, when the police pulled him over.
It doesn’t get much stupider than that, I thought.
Then I turned the page and read a story about the impact that relentlessly warming temperatures are having —as well as the future devastation that climate change is widely predicted to inflict on the planet that my son and his son (15 months) are inheriting from you and me.
We know the change is coming because it’s already here. And it is coming even faster than those party-pooping scientists have been predicting.
Anyone who watches the evening news knows that the broadcasts are now the extreme national weather report: floods, droughts, wildfires, mudslides, devastating storm surges, hottest month ever (this July), hottest years ever (eight of the past nine years rank as the hottest ever). Google heat and Phoenix, if you dare.
Or just step outside and start sweating and wheezing.
There’s no escape. For example, there have been no significant wildfires as yet in Connecticut, but the smoke wafting here from infernos in western states and Canada have regularly made our air unsafe in recent years. The smoke and wildfires are coming earlier and more frequently than in past summers. They’re just one small part of the new abnormal.
So what are we doing to forestall, or at least mitigate this gloomy future? Not a whole lot.
The Connecticut General Assembly’s recent session barely touched on the subject, according to reporting by the CT Mirror. There was more concern about the “threat” from black bears than a worsening environment. Democrats, led by the governor, control both houses and set the legislative agenda.
One major national party does not believe in climate change at all and actively opposes efforts to combat it. Can you guess which one? The best description of its “policy” on the issue is: que sera, sera, or what will be will be. Its members are more concerned with what they perceive to be the “menace” represented by the LGBTQ community.
I assume that members of the Head-in-the-Sand Party have children and grandchildren. Here’s a simple survey we should all take: What kind of world is our generation leaving to future generations:
- The Same
To be fair, none of us are doing very much to combat our shared sizzling future. The world continues to get 80 percent of its energy from fossil fuels, just as it did 30 years ago when concern for global warming was in its infancy. China recently surpassed the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer, and it gets approximately 60 percent of that energy from coal.
Stateside, we are falling behind on our greenhouse gas reduction targets: for example, achieving a 50 percent reduction by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. In 2022 American use of fossil fuels increased by 2.1 percent over the previous year.
Besides moronic denial syndrome, a main reason we haven’t done enough is because addressing climate change will cost us money: higher taxes, higher gas prices etc. The flaw in this excuse is that not confronting climate change will cost us even more in both blood and treasure. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that billion-dollar weather driven catastrophes (in constant dollars) rose from an average of three a year in the 1980s to 12 a year in the 2010s. In the first three years of this decade, the average has been 20 such events annually. In 2021, 688 fatalities were attributed to extreme weather events.
Besides these costs there are myriad expenditures to keep states and municipalities safe or clean up after the impact of rising seas, storm surges, increased flooding and the like. We can pay now to prevent the worst-case scenarios —or we can pay even more later.
So, what’s a grandparent or a nation to do? Keep driving down the highway at 115 miles per hour and hope for the best?
On the personal level, we should all do something. Many already are. And we should teach our children how to live responsibly by conserving energy and resources, recycling, and exploring and supporting sustainable alternatives such as solar panels, wind power, and electric vehicles —both at home and at work.
But the most important thing we can do is to let our elected officials know that we care about the environment and want them to get moving on solutions to climate change now. Tell them que sera sera just doesn’t cut it as we breath in another lung full of unhealthy air.
Our children and grandchildren deserve a better future than the one we are currently bequeathing them. Message our leaders and demand that they lead. Quote Bob Dylan to them because the times are most certainly changing:
Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don’t stand in the doorway Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled...
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.