Climate change isn’t as flashy as war, but just as much of a threat

At this point, the language of scientific warnings about climate cataclysm has familiar characteristics, even as it gets more dire: The climate is changing as a direct result of human activity; the change is accelerating due to our inaction; some of the consequences are now unavoidable; and it will wreak havoc on our society, plunging billions into food insecurity, storms, fires, heat waves, floods and other assorted mayhem.

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released this week, echoes these now-habitual admonitions. Yet just because you might eventually tune out a fire alarm doesn’t mean you should, at least not if you’re hoping to still have a place to live.


While some of the terminology might be the same, assessments of the intensity and extent of the potential damage, the timeframe we have to act to avoid the most devastating outcomes, and the swaths of the world that will be impacted just keep getting worse and more extreme with each assessment.

These aren’t random guesses; the report is compiled from thousands of pages of meticulously measured raw data taken and interpreted by respected scientists around the globe.

If anything, its calamitous conclusions may be watered down, since the report is ultimately drafted by UN consensus.

In New York, the United States’ largest and most important city, the warning of growing climate calamity should come with flashing red lights. We are, after all, on an ocean, with vulnerable underground assets and hundreds of thousands of at-risk people.

We can, through individual and corporate and city and state government action, do our small part to try to turn back the global tide. Every bit helps, as does the power of our example. Far more important, given the terrible consequences unfolding far too quickly, is to do what must be done after years of unconscionable delays to build a more resilient city capable of weathering the coming storm. Sea levels are rising. So must our resolve.

— New York Daily News

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