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Letter to the editor: Failure to act on global warming is ‘at our own peril’

There are many dangers that threaten the world?s population. Nuclear war, the rise of fascism, a new plague, economic and political collapse all could drastically alter our way of life. However extreme climate change will change civilization as we know it unless all nations take rapid and far-reaching actions to reduce fossil fuel use and switch to clean energy starting now. This is the conclusion of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body established in 1988 for the purpose of assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC has issued five reports, each one offering more dire predictions of the consequences of climate change than the previous one. The most recent report was issued in 2014 and suggests that climate change is not something that will happen in the future but is happening NOW. The IPCC met October 8 of this year in Incheon, Republic of Korea, and concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels is essential and will require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.
The Paris Climate Accord, which every nation (except the United States) now supports, has set a goal of keeping global temperatures from rising to more than 3.6 degrees F above pre-industrial levels but that level of warming is too much.
Most everyone knows the potential effects of extreme climate change; drought and famine, extreme flooding, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, water shortages, resource wars, mass migrations and massive extinctions. But when asked what issues are most important to them, most Americans list health care, income inequality, immigration, gender inequality, the opioid epidemic and gun rights as their greatest concerns. All of these issues are certainly important but climate change seems to be at the bottom of the list of priorities. Given that the long-term effects of climate change are known and WILL happen unless immediate and drastic action is taken, why is this so?
Maybe it’s due to denial or greed. Perhaps it is because there is a serious lack of leadership at the top. Or it could be that even though 97 percent of scientists believe climate change is real, the 3 percent who refute this are some of the same “scientists” that were hired by the tobacco industry to convince the public that nicotine was not addictive. And the media, in its attempt to remain neutral, offered equal time to both groups.
Could it be that the fossil fuel industry is so powerful in its lobbying efforts that members of Congress simply can’t say “No” to them? Or maybe since the issue has few apparent consequences for most Americans (except for those in California, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Puerto Rico), apathy has crept into the equation.
The point is that whether or not we want to believe it, this IS an inconvenient truth and its consequences WILL HAPPEN if we don’t start talking about it at the dinner table, and start taking action, writing to our representatives, and voting for leaders willing to stick their neck out to try to adapt to climate change and to encourage the elimination of carbon based sources of energy. If we continue to ignore this issue, we do so at our own peril and that of succeeding generations.
Bill Fifield, Bridport
Spencer Putnam, Weybridge
Fran Putnam, Weybridge
Carol & Reg Spooner, Middlebury
Jennifer Stefani, Middlebury
George & Margaret Klohck, Middlebury
Steve Smith, Middlebury
Richard & Gail Butz, Bristol
Margaret Olson, Middlebury
Rev. Daniel Cooperrider, Weybridge
Kristen Swartzentruber, Bristol

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