An interactive map, showing the potential effect of rising seas on the east coast of America, made the rounds on social media last week. Sure, some folks may have had a chuckle at the possible "ocean-front property" one day available in Brattleboro (due, we assume, to the spread of the Connecticut River far north, bisecting Massachusetts -- or what's left of it -- in the process), it's still a striking testament to what many believe to be man's adverse affect on the planet.
Last week an international climate panel met in Sweden, and one thing seemed very clear: Top scientists have a much better idea of how global warming will shape the rest of the century.
The panel also affirmed it was more confident than ever that global warming was a man-made problem ... and likely to get worse. Calling climate change "the greatest challenge of our time," panel co-chair Thomas Stocker said humankind's fate in the next 100 years "depends crucially on how much carbon dioxide will be emitted in the future," as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
"Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes," scientists stated in the report.
In a summary of its findings, released Friday, the panel stated: "The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased ... Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850."
(For those interested, the panel's full 2,500-page report was published Monday.)
Also of interest: The panel expects sea levels to rise globally by 10 inches to 32 inches by century's end.
Which brings us back to the map being shared on social media. Doesn't seem quite as humorous now, does it?
We echo the sentiments of the editorial board at The (UK) Guardian, who last weekend declared: "No more denial. Time to act on climate change." Consider the analogy from Stephen Emmott's recent book, "Ten Billion," where the world's greatest minds come together to tackle the deadly after-effects of a fictional oncoming asteroid set to impact Earth. Mankind may be facing, right now, just such a calamitous event, but is choosing to take no action, even though the consequences could be just as dire.
The Guardian editorial board writes: "(H)umanity is conducting the greatest and most important scientific experiment ever carried out -- on itself. And it is doing so by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate."
We agree. It's high time our elected leaders don't just placate our concerns with empty words, but instead work together to agree on what's happening and what needs to be done. If not for us, for future generations.
There's only one Earth; so, last we checked, we are all in this together.