Imagine the beaches of Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Ventura, even the coastline along the Pacific Coast Highway, eroding away so much that what was once beachfront property has become oceanfront and the various bike paths and roadways aren’t much more than broken concrete in the shoreline. Imagine the thousands of acres of farmland scattered throughout the county turning into arid dust bowls. Imagine the thousands of children at the local school districts regularly using inhalers for asthma due to air pollution. Imagine our hills scorched from fire due to lack of rainfall and withering plants. Now, take the blinders off and realize that these aren’t apocalyptic scenarios. The wheels have already been set in motion and this is very likely what we, our children and their children will be enduring in the next 100 years — and some are already happening.
On Tuesday, May 6, the White House released one of the most comprehensive reports on climate change, the National Climate Assessment, an 841-page document that reveals how human activity has caused climate change to move at a much faster rate over the last 100 years, and even more so in the last 50 years, and how the change has impacted lives all over the country. In glossing over the report, the stark reality of our denial about climate change and global warming is in full view, and it’s a doozy.
From the overview:
“Multiple lines of independent evidence confirm that human activities are the primary cause of the global warming of the past 50 years. The burning of coal, oil, and gas, and clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and it has been known for almost two centuries that this carbon dioxide traps heat. … Data show that natural factors like the sun and volcanoes cannot have caused the warming observed over the past 50 years, states the report.
“Prolonged periods of high temperatures and the persistence of high nighttime temperatures have increased in many locations (especially in urban areas) over the past half-century. High nighttime temperatures have widespread impacts because people, livestock, and wildlife get no respite from the heat. In some regions, prolonged periods of high temperatures associated with droughts contribute to conditions that lead to larger wildfires and longer fire seasons. As expected in a warming climate, recent trends show that extreme heat is becoming more common, while extreme cold is becoming less common. Evidence indicates that the human influence on climate has already roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat events such as the record-breaking summer heat experienced in 2011 in Texas and Oklahoma. The incidence of record-breaking high temperatures is projected to rise.
“Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather. Increases in ocean and freshwater temperatures, frost-free days, and heavy downpours have all been documented. Global sea level has risen, and there have been large reductions in snow-cover extent, glaciers, and sea ice. These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, coastal areas, and many other sectors of society, with increasingly adverse impacts on the American economy and quality of life.”
For the last several years, we have encouraged and highlighted eco-friendly changes to reduce our carbon footprint. It’s a drum we beat often, because, well, we envision a future for Ventura County, and that vision is dismal if we continue with the status quo. Sure, conservatives will call the liberals hypocrites for only condemning the industries conservatives support — oil, coal, etc. — instead of focusing on industries that cause similar harm but that liberals support (those industries are unclear), as was the case with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky after the report was released.
While our political leaders shake their fists at each other over the data and the rhetoric, the rest of us are wondering — What are you going to do about it? If we seriously focus on innovation and technology as well as incentives to propel us into the future of alternative energy, won’t the jobs follow? It’s time to get serious about changing our ways before climate change permanently and drastically changes us.
We understand people are slow to make changes, so at the very least, educate yourself: www.globalchange.gov.