Catasauqua Press

Friday, August 18, 2017

Another view: We need to worry about climate change now, not later

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

“The climate is changing, it’s our fault and we got to get to work on this.”

— Bill Nye, scientist, in a video release for the documentary “Bill Nye the Science Guy”

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

— Genesis 2:15

“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?”

— Deuteronomy 20:19

“We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonization.”

— Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany

This past weekend, my husband, Joe, and I did our usual Saturday morning routine — headed to the gym and then ran errands. As the late morning turned into the early afternoon, we felt the warm weather prediction coming true. WFMZ forecast a high of 65 degrees for Feb. 18 and 62 degrees for Feb. 19. On Saturday, it reached the mid-60s, and on Sunday, it reached the same, again in the mid-60s. For dinner on Sunday, Joe even cooked on the grill!

As enjoyable as the past weekend weather was, I am troubled. On Lehigh Valley International Airport’s website around 5 p.m. Feb. 18, it said 66 degrees. Sixty-six degrees? In February? This weather is not normal.

Climate.nasa.gov reports on its website, since 1994, there has been an approximate 400-billion-ton loss of total glacier per year.

The website also says climate has changed throughout history, but certain statistics show this is not another one of the “seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat” that have occurred since the last 650,000 years. One of the graphs shown explains, “Based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, (the graph) provides evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased since the Industrial Revolution.”

Additionally, in the last 100 years, global sea level has risen 17 centimeters, which is 6.7 inches. What’s interesting, however, is the rate in the last 10 years is almost double that of the last century.

Joe and I are a pretty eco-friendly couple. We strive to help the environment and decrease our carbon footprint whenever possible. Here are some other ways we try to be friendly to the environment. Perhaps you can add some — or all — of these to your lifestyle.

• Plant your own fruits and vegetables in the backyard.

• Buy local, when available, organic groceries and household cleaning products. This upcoming spring/summer will be our second year participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. It is a great way to support your local farmer and farming business.

• Lower your intake of meat consumption. “Meat has more of an impact on the environment than any other food we eat. That’s because livestock require so much more food, water, land and energy than plants to raise and transport,” NPR reported June 27, 2012, on “Morning Edition.” “And that’s not even including the animal’s waste or the methane emissions from its digestion.” As of about six months ago, I started to eat only chicken and fish for meat. And let me tell you — my cholesterol levels are excellent!

• Do not buy products that have palm oil as an ingredient. Saynotopalmoil.com states, “Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America and South America, with 85 percent of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia but most of the time not using sustainable measures.”

• Bring into stores reusable bags when shopping.

• Purchase recycled paper goods.

• Use a reusable knitted coffee cup sleeve instead of grabbing one of the cardboard sleeves at Starbucks.

• Use a Klean Kanteen or other insulated water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles of water.

• Switch the source of your electrical company to one that retrieves power through 100-percent renewable energy sources generated in Pennsylvania.

• Recycle all paper, cardboard, plastic and glass products. So remember — when you’re finished reading this newspaper, recycle it in your borough or township’s bin.

• Pass on the straw when ordering a drink at restaurants. We’re still working on this; it’s easy to forget!

But all this action is not enough for where we are headed. We need global change; we need community action; we need to put our disbelief behind us — and it needs to happen now, not later.

When we took a November 2016 weekend trip to Cape May, N.J., (yes, it was that warm), I couldn’t believe how many solar panels I saw on a variety of structures. Schools, houses, electrical signs, shops — you name it, there was a solar panel on top. I can’t recall going anywhere else when I’ve seen that many solar panels. Good job, Cape May!

In the 2016 documentary “Before the Flood,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said, “If we’re going to fight climate change effectively, we have to start by acknowledging that most of our economy is based on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas. Now, in the first couple decades of the 21st century, to sustain our dependence on fossil fuels, we’re going to very risky, very extreme new sources. You see this in things like mountain top removal for coal, fracking for natural gas, offshore drilling for oil and the tar sands, which is the most devastating form of producing fossil fuels. They take away massive forests, the water in the streams and rivers are poisoned. It has severe impacts on the wildlife, on native communities and it requires a huge amount of energy simply to get it to our fuel tanks. There is no such thing as clean fossil fuel.”

Further in the documentary, Anote Tong, former president of the Republic of Kiribati, an island in the Pacific Ocean, said, according to scientific predications, these islands will be under water. The president’s long-term strategy was buying a piece of land in Fiji to accommodate his people during a migration. Can you imagine this scenario?

“In the last 30 years, 50 percent of all coral [reefs have] been lost,” the documentary also explained.

Now that previous governor of Texas Rick Perry is up for secretary of energy, I hope he does stick to his new outlook, of which he spoke during his confirmation hearing Jan. 19: “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is caused by man-made activity. The question is how we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth.”

We will be adopting a newborn in April, and I want to pass on a beautiful, thriving and lesser fossil fuel-dependent Earth to him or her. I have hope for our world but only if our local communities, U.S. government and international partnerships act now and with appropriate measures. Our future depends on it.

“The facts are crystal clear. The ice is melting, the Earth is warming, the sea level is rising. Those are facts. Rather than feeling, ‘Oh my God; it’s hopeless,’ say, ‘OK, this is the problem. Let’s be realistic. Let’s find a way out of it. And there are ways out of it.’”

— Dr. Piers Sellers, astronaut, director of Earth Sciences Division, NASA/GSFC, in “Before the Flood”

Stacey Koch

Catasauqua Press

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