NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 2, 2013

What to do to combat effects of climate change

To the editor:

Anyone who paid attention to the recent leak of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 report could not help but be shocked and disturbed. Among other findings, the report indicates that sea levels will rise between 21 inches and 36 inches by the end of this century. Given that life expectancies are increasing dramatically, this means that many people being born in the area served by The Daily News will live to see a time when most of Plum Island and the Parker River Wildlife Refuge will be completely under water, along with all the other coastal communities and enclaves we love and take for granted.

Although powerful political forces on the Right deny the reality behind climate change, 95-plus percent of all climate scientists agree that it’s happening and it’s a self-inflicted wound. Every day that we burn more carbon than the atmosphere can absorb is a day when we make matters worse. Those who dismiss climate change as a concoction of “socialists” like Al Gore are like those who claim that lung cancer has nothing to do with cigarettes. As Chico once said to Groucho, “Who you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?!”

Let’s just assume that Newburyport and its surrounding communities can get past this smoke screen of ignorance and denial and decide that all the scientists are onto something. What should we do now to combat the effects of climate change and prepare for a better future? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Protect Plum Island and other low-lying areas

2. Teach climate change dynamics and systems thinking to children beginning in elementary school.

3. Provide incentives to reduce carbon usage, e.g., households cutting their carbon footprints and recycling wastes ought to get rewarded with tax rebates.

4. Eliminate carbon-based wastes, e.g., plastic bags for shopping and plastic water bottles.

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