While offering our prayers and intentions to those affected by Superstorm Sandy, we can also give thanks that the destruction was not far worse. No loss of life is ever insignificant, and yet we recognize that the death toll could have been much higher. In relative terms, Sandy offered a gentle warning of things to come.
This past week, a study by the respected accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forecast an 11-degree increase in the Earth's atmospheric temperature by the year 2011. To put this in perspective, an ice age can be triggered by a temperature drop of less than seven degrees. The type of temperature rise predicted by PwC would be devastating to many species of animals and plants, not to mention the world's food supply. It would force massive migrations of billions of people, assuming that they could survive the severe climate conditions.
Changing the way we do things isn't as hard as you may think. All it takes is a letter or phone call. We can demand that our governments declare a global state of emergency, taking measures to stop all sales of fossil fuels and moving in short order (3-5 years) towards zero-emission technology. The technology is already available. For example, car manufacturers like India's Tata Motors are already producing vehicles that run on compressed air. Such cars can be recharged using electricity generated by wind, solar or other clean technologies. This is not a fantasy; the technology has been tested, developed, and implemented. It can be made available on a global basis with the proper will.
Considering its force, Sandy was a relatively merciful storm. What kind of devastation will the next major climate event bring? Whether we choose to admit it, the severity of these events is only going to increase. But we can do something now to make sure that we don't keep compounding the problem through neglect. Sandy was just a warning. Are we ready to take heed?
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