Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

Currently: 66° — Complete forecast

Guest Column:

How long can we fail to act on climate?

“More violent and frequent storms,” read the headline from Scientific American in 2011, which produced a three-part series dealing with climate change and extreme weather.

With the onset of Hurricane Harvey, with the number of the hottest years on record growing, with sea temperatures on the rise, with ice receding in both Antarctica and the Arctic, can we afford the luxury of not responding? Can we afford not to be part of the Paris Climate Agreement? As of last week, we were still waiting on the appointment of someone to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We still have a president, an EPA administrator and many members of Congress who do not “get” climate change.

It is past time to wake up.

The cost in life, human and non-human, and property that we see unfolding in Texas is unacceptable. And according to the overwhelming consensus of climatologists, it is only going to get worse.

In 2011 the floods that swept through the central United States caught people’s attention. Today ,it is Hurricane Harvey. How long does it take?

As the Scientific American series stated: “Normally, floods of the magnitude now being seen in North Dakota and elsewhere around the world are expected to happen only once in 100 years. But one of the predictions of climate change models is that extreme weather — floods, heat waves, droughts, even blizzards — will become far more common. ‘Big rain events and higher overnight lows are two things we would expect with [a] warming world,’ says Deke Arndt, chief of the center’s Climate Monitoring Branch.”

Let’s add to the equation of climate change the arrogant and misguided conversation about a nuclear confrontation, and we exponentially compound the problem. How can we even imagine such a nuclear event, as has been imagined at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. Just try to envision the ecological effect upon the planet if such an event were to take place. Such adolescent psychology manifests what one imminent psychiatrist calls a “pathological megalomania.”

As a philosopher and a student of nature and culture, I am led to ask: “How rational are we, as a species?” We are quickly losing our connection to nature, that nature which gave us birth and provides our sustenance. We have lost our connection to the non-human communities that dwell on the planet; according to the American Museum of Natural History, we are in the largest period of extinction of species ever on the planet.

Dr. Gerald Barney, former director of the Millennium Institute, compiled data relevant to the current level of devastation in Global 2000 Revisited and wrote: “As we look around us today, the struggle for life seems all the more perilous. Over the whole Earth, the human community and much of the entire community of life are now in serious danger. Most ominously, all of the biogeochemical systems essential for life on Earth, the habitats essential for the survival of diverse species, and even the atmosphere and the oceans and now disturbed and threatened on a planetary scale.

Wake up!

Gard Jameson, a professor of philosophy at UNLV, is a founding board member of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Life, advisory board member of Green Our Planet, co-founder of Volunteers in Medicine and author of, “Phaethon, An Ecological Story for our Mythic Moment.”

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