My piece last week was titled “What the Media Isn’t Telling Us is Just the TTIP of the Iceberg”, about the media’s silence regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This week, though, I’m writing about actual icebergs, or, technically lack thereof.
Truth-out.org recently reported on something climatologists are calling a “blue ocean event”. This is a condition where so much glacial ice has receded due to rising temperatures, there isn’t enough ice left to refract the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere. Instead, rays are absorbed into the water, warming it, accelerating glacial melt, exposing even more open water, melting more glaciers, in perpetuity, until none are left. For those of us who aren’t climate deniers, this is not news. But what makes Truth-out’s report alarming is we have finally gotten to that catastrophic point where this summer – the one starting next month – will be the first without the presence of arctic sea ice.
This event climate scientists have long feared is one that has been a looming existential threat since former NASA scientist James Hansen publicly raised alarms about global warming in the late 1980s. Fossil fuel companies, of course, knew about it in the seventies or earlier but chose profit over responsibility. No surprise there.
What this means is that massive sea-level rise to the tune of “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years” is likely, according to Hansen’s recent research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Hansen’s findings are more urgent than the 2013 report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that predicts a one-meter rise in sea level by the year 2100 if we do not effectively curtail carbon emissions. Hansen claims this report does not account for vanishing arctic ice sheets, the very event predicted to occur in a mere few months. Therefore, sea levels will rise faster than predicted, which is all the more dire considering each passing month we break another record.
2015 was the warmest year of this century, and it isn’t getting any cooler. Each month of this year so far has broken the record set by the previous month. Last month was the hottest April ever recorded and the seventh month straight to have broken temperature records. In fact, the years 2014 to present have been the warmest EVER.
And yet, we have an entire political party committed to the “I’m not a scientist” mantra, and a corporate media completely ignoring the threat. The longer this intransigence persists, the more the they imperil us. In addition to rising sea level that endangers coastal cities likes New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and states like Florida, we are susceptible to wildfires, extreme heatwaves, blistering cold, floods, powerful tornadoes and hurricanes where they are not prevalent, and fluctuations in weather patterns we have not seen and are more difficult to predict.
We don’t need to look further than what’s been happening in Canada, battling unprecedented wildfires, or India, where temperatures soar above 100 degrees for months, taking hundreds of lives. This, for some reason, still isn’t good enough for actual climate deniers, ones who have been taken in by republican prevarication. I honestly believe most republican lawmakers who repeat the “I’m not a scientist. There’s no consensus on climate change anywhere” rhetoric are merely putting their mouths where their money is. They know better than to cross the fossil fuel lobby since it’s what gets them re-elected (besides the NRA and the Koch brothers). Their brainwashing is doing real damage, and now they’ve got presumptive GOP nominee Donald Drumpf as their Cheerleader in Chief stating climate change is a Chinese hoax. Really? Could it get anymore insulting?
There is hope, though, and it rests ironically in the aforementioned extreme weather. The more we see and feel the changes, the less anyone can claim they aren’t happening. It is unfortunate (and quintessentially American) that the alterations we should have made already need to be foisted upon us by shoving our backs to the wall. People aren’t stupid. They know something has gone awry and will stand for being hookwinked only so long; they needn’t wait for it to appear on the nightly news.
Maybe that moment is now. I see it in my high school students, who can’t fathom why anyone would be ignorant enough to claim climate change doesn’t exist. They’re the next progressive generation who won’t tolerate the old guard bent on destruction over profit and politics. They don’t need the corporate media, and they’re more politically savvy than I ever was at their age.
When asked what the biggest threat to America is today, every presidential candidate cited ISIS–except one. Senator Bernie Sanders said climate change. And he’s right. Climate change caused the Syrian drought that fueled the civil war today raging in that country. If we don’t scream this from the rooftops and demand our media and legislators pay attention, Syria will not be the last country climate change destroys. This is a terror threat greater than ISIS because of its potential to cause more destruction, death, and economic upheaval. It also is immune to military intervention. Call your legislators and offer your views on platforms designed to address this imminent threat. Urge them to put climate change more into the public discourse, and express that platform in television and radio interviews. If you don’t know who your senators and members of Congress are, click here.