Cantlon: What does the heat have you thinking about?
As hot as it’s been around here lately it got me to thinking about climate change. That and a host of recent news pieces.
One piece is from the Military Times (all links online). It’s about a report that the Department of Defense updates from time to time on, “how vulnerable military installations are to floods, rising sea levels, drought and catastrophic storms.” The new edition had been scrubbed of mention of climate change. The Pentagon has, for many years, considered climate change and been preparing for its effects. They have to. They’re realists. Previous editions of the report noted that these installations were vulnerable because of climate change. This time it simply listed the problem as “extreme weather.”
A group of 44 members of Congress wrote to the department to say that was a mistake. They noted that Congress itself included in the Defense budget language to make it clear that “climate change is a direct threat to national security.” In fact the budget provides for Defense to determine which 10 installations globally are going to be most affected and what can be done at those locations. It also provides for, “commanders to incorporate the effects of a changing climate into their strategic plans.”
Before you might grumble about damn liberals and Democrats, this was a budget passed by a GOP controlled Congress. The letter was sent mostly by Democrats but also by 10 Republicans.
In another piece, the Weather Channel reports that the lower 48 had the hottest May on record. Actually you could skip that piece because the National Weather Service had a bigger record to announce. The lower 48 had the hottest May, June and July stretch on record. You could skip that piece too because NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released data showing that 2018 is on track to be the fourth hottest year on record. Fourth year in a row in the hottest years that is. So 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been an unbroken stretch among the hottest years.
It’s not just a matter of being uncomfortable either. Again from NOAA, averaged over time, heat kills more people in the U.S. than floods, or tornadoes, or hurricanes, or winter cold.
It’s also hitting pocketbooks, the pocketbooks of investors, which may help push change. The Wall Street Journal reports that climate change is forcing changes in real estate near oceans, “with properties closer to sea level now trading at discounts to those at higher elevations.” And, “Homes that are vulnerable to rising sea levels now selling at a 7% discount compared with similar but less-exposed properties.”
Here’s a piece that’s just interesting about climate change. In 1912, newspapers in both Australia and New Zealand ran pieces that scientists were already aware that burning fossil fuels could warm the planet. The articles described how burning coal added, “tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature.” That’s not a typo. That was in 1912, 106 years ago.
Here’s some good news on climate change from National Geographic. It leads to spiders growing bigger. Oh, you don’t consider that good news? Then how about this? The World Wildlife Fund has nine reasons to be hopeful. And Pew Research finds that younger people, even young Republicans, are considerably more aware of climate change and the need to address it.
Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at tomcantlon dot com.
Letter to Defense
Four hot years
Reasons for hope