It’s quite a predicament to feel helpless as news reports of unusual and devastating natural anomalies continue to barrage the planet.
Locally, we are not immune. In early July, hundreds of fish were found dead along the shore of Ormond Beach in Oxnard. In mid-August, another die-off of over 1,000 fish in Malibu. So far, necropsies on the fish have not revealed any specific cause, but scientists are speculating that record-high temperatures and climate change overall may have played a role. Last month, off the coast of San Diego, sea-surface temperatures were running between 72 and 79 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Whereas average water temperature is between 68 to 69 degrees there.
Fire maps compiled by NASA have been circulating on social media, showing a rather dire picture of drought-ridden regions across the globe and the consequences of wildfires. On Sept. 4, London-based Independent reported that “British people’s concern over climate change hit the highest level in almost a decade amid the record-breaking heat wave which swept across Britain this summer, a new poll has revealed.” Given the severity of the aftermath of wildfires in California alone, it’s easy to feel unnerved about the future. To worsen the dilemma, Ventura County Board of Supervisors in August urged the Casitas Municipal Water District to declare a stage 4 drought emergency. That has yet to happen, but the urgency is duly noted.
To remain in a state of denial about climate change may be the path of least resistance. Perhaps that was President Trump’s approach this year when pulling out of the Paris Agreement, an effort to limit the increase of global average temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius. On an individual basis, to take on trying to reverse a global problem is no doubt anxiety-producing. The question is, are we at the point of no return? It depends on who you ask, but optimism is not dead among the experts. For instance, organizations that attempt to reduce carbon dioxide and plastic pollution in the ocean are at least headed in a direction of hope.
As the summer winds down and fall approaches, the heat will surely dissipate in the coming months, it’s important that we not give up on personal efforts to lessen our impacts on the planet if and when possible: drive less, carpool more, turn off lights, eat less meat, recycle more, go solar, choose quality over quantity. It’s hard to say if these attempts make a significant difference without a large percentage of the population participating, but at least the effort matters to those who try.