A map of warming temperatures across the United States in The Washington Post last month shows that all of Long Island has already approached a significant threshold in how scientists measure climate change and its future impact.
This threshold — that average temperatures have climbed close to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1895 — is one set by the international community as the number we don’t want to surpass. The Post’s story showed that the rise in neighboring New Jersey is double the average for the lower 48 states. The map showed most of New Jersey in a bright red color; Long Island was the same.
In our ugly political landscape, the subject of climate change has become warped by some who proclaim that it is either a “hoax” — a word President Trump has used — or exaggerated and no one should pay attention to it.
Some issues argued among elected officials have two sides to them. This one doesn’t.
Those following the president’s lead on this should be voted out of office. They are being willfully ignorant about something that’s a serious threat to all of us, here and worldwide, and must be addressed with urgency.
This is not — and shouldn’t be — a red or blue issue. We need our elected and appointed officials to act. If they can’t, or won’t, or want to pretend the issue was invented by some cabal — President Trump once tweeted that the Chinese were behind it — they should not have a seat at the table.
We can put up with a lot in our representative democracy. Stupidity, however, is not something we should ever have to put up with.
At the recent G7 meeting in France, a session on climate change produced agreement that the raging fires in the Amazon rainforest — rightly called the world’s lungs — must be addressed immediately. President Trump didn’t attend that meeting, ceding American leadership on this critical issue.
Thankfully, not all members of the president’s party agree with him: Recently, Sen. Mitt Romney said climate change is already underway, that human activity is to blame and that fierce western wildfires are now far more common. His common-sense position is that a carbon tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuel should, in part, be channeled back to coal workers in rural communities who will suffer as the nation moves to cleaner power.
As part of its effort to map the world’s fastest-warming places, the Post staff studied temperature databases kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. The Northeast is warming “especially fast,” according to the story, which quotes a climate scientist at Rutgers University.
Climate change is happening now. It is not a future event. One idea might be for the town boards and trustee boards of the five East End towns to form some sort of joint commission to gather all the data needed to see where we stand now, and to come up with plans to be carried out over the coming years, since we all share the bounty and beauty of this region.