Houston, climate change and October conference

The storm hitting Houston and the Gulf Coast has been repeatedly described by people on the ground as “unprecedented,” “record-breaking” and “historic.” The flooding and devastation of the fourth-largest city in the U.S. and the catastrophic disruption and loss of life there have been called “apocalyptic.” And yet few media outlets are mentioning the role of global warming and climate change in making this natural disaster as catastrophic as it has been.

No, climate change didn’t cause the storm. Hurricanes were happening long before humans started heating up the planet by burning fossil fuels and releasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But the well-documented effects of human-caused global warming — warming of the oceans, melting of polar ice, sea-level rise of nearly a foot over the previously stable 1,000-year level, greater atmospheric humidity leading to heavier rainfalls in coastal areas — all unquestionably contributed to the unprecedented destructive power of this storm.

Human-caused climate change is real. We are beginning to see the chaos and misery it will unleash in unimaginably horrific ways if we don’t prepare to mitigate its effects while rapidly transitioning to renewable sources of energy that will enable us to stop dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and continuing to heat up the planet.

Only clean, carbon-neutral energy can save us from further disrupting the climate and weather patterns that human life and all life are adapted to and depend on.

The good news: We can do that. In fact, we have made a start at doing it. We now have the wherewithal to make the transition to sustainability without wrecking economies or having to look the other way as vulnerable populations absorb the heaviest blows — at least to begin with. We can even make it a just and humane transition. The choice is ours.

What it will take is waking up to the known facts and their implications and committing to implementing solutions, most of which have already been identified and many of which are being pioneered on the ground by visionary groups and communities. And it will take political will: insisting that our elected representatives do everything in their power to prevent climate chaos and holding them accountable when they don’t.

Concerned New Mexicans will have an opportunity to learn more about climate change, and especially about solutions they can support and become a part of, at a one-day conference being held Oct. 28 in Santa Fe (at Monte del Sol Charter School). Coordinated conferences will be held on the same day in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and possibly Taos. The conference title is “Getting Beyond the Climate Argument: Plugging Into Solutions,” and policy experts will review the basics, and a variety of climate action and environmental justice organizations (including youth organizations) will have speakers on hand to present the work they are doing to confront the challenge both locally and nationally. The conference also will provide an opportunity to build a stronger, more inclusive and more effective statewide coalition to advocate for needed policies and actions.

For more information about the conference, go to www.facebook.com/ccl.newmexico. Online conference registration will be available on the Facebook page shortly.

Gregg Manoff is a retired primary care physician and longtime Santa Fe resident who volunteers with the local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Source : http://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/houston-climate-change-and-october-conference/article_b32199a5-06eb-5efb-9bf4-3e4415db3e1e.html

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