Thursday, August 25, 2011

Warnings and worries is our Climate Change future


Of course we do not know what role Hurricane Irene plays in the Climate Change scenario for our region.

Cuomo orders prep for possible Hurricane Irene hit “ — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has instructed the state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany to track the path of Hurricane Irene and to work with other state agencies to prepare the state's response in the event of a direct hit. Today, agencies and local governments around the state will meet to plan coordinated response efforts for the areas that may be the hardest hit, according to a press release from the governor's office. Long Island and New York City, are considered most at-risk.” (August 24, 2011) Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

There have been hurricanes which reach our New York State coast. And, there have been earthquakes, like the one that hit our area this week, before.

Earthquake gives Rochester a mild nudge | Democrat and Chronicle For the second time in 14 months, western New Yorkers experienced the jolt of an earthquake Tuesday with none of the destruction that can accompany it. (August 24, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle


Experts, activists debate nuclear power safety following earthquake - The Washington Post The two nuclear power reactors in North Anna, Va., were cooling off Wednesday after being shut down by Tuesday’s earthquake, but the debate about what lessons should be learned for nuclear safety was still simmering. Dominion Resources, owner of the reactors, said that its safety procedures worked. When three shaken transformers tripped like circuit breakers, four locomotive-size diesel generators kicked in. When one of those generators sprang a radiator water leak, another backup generator was turned on.  (August 24, 2011) The Washington Post

What is different and perhaps ominous for our future is that these events must now be seen through the lens of Climate Change. There will be more hurricanes in our region and they will impact our environment, our economy, and more. I’m not the only one who thinks so:

Extreme Weather Disasters Take Record Toll in U.S. in 2011 The U.S. has already tied the record for the number of extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in damage in one year, with the cumulative tab so far reaching $35 billion, government officials said. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been nine separate natural disasters causing damages that totaled more than $1 billion, including summer flooding along the Missouri River, a crippling drought across the southern plains and Southwest, and a series of devastating tornadoes across the Midwest in April. (August 18, 2011) Yale Environment 360: Opinion, Analysis, Reporting & Debate

Earthquakes, though not an environmental phenomenon (meaning they are not biological incidents) will impact us because of concern about the various nuclear power plants in our area. Our nuclear power plants are not rated to withstand a massive earthquake because they were not built to withstand massive earthquakes and that is because we don’t usually have massive earthquakes.

Rather than tie ourselves in knots denying Climate Change and worry about the increase in every prediction of this phenomenon, all communities should be doing what this community is doing:

St. Lawrence County studies climate action plan Last month, the St. Lawrence County legislature considered a measure to create a climate action plan. The plan would find ways to save money while reducing the county government's carbon footprint. That could include anything from energy audits in county buildings to anti-idling policies in county parking lots. The legislature tabled the matter because it wanted a better cost-benefit analysis of the plan. (August 25, 2011) NCPR: North Country Public Radio

Somehow the majority of the public must understand Climate Change and how it will impact our future. Efforts like Tar Sands Action, which has been in the news for the last week, can help focus the public’s attention on specific things that we should not do to increase our vulnerability to Climate Change.

But what are needed are Climate Change action plans (check Regional climate change initiatives in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) for each community to plan ahead so that this slow moving catastrophe can be a positive marshaling our efforts. Climate Change actions plans will convince the public and the media that our public officials are serious about Climate Change and action plans can provide a level playing field from which to develop a more sustainable economics. Waiting around until everyone, even the Climate Change deniers, are completely convinced that our atmosphere is warming up is far too late to do something about it. We cannot act on Climate Change at the last minute, because those minutes have long gone by.

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