New Year's Thoughts: Can We Avoid the Environmental Cliff in 2013?

As I write this, Democrats and Republicans are attempting to hammer out a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. But as I look back on the environmental news of 2012, it seems to me that we are also heading for an environmental cliff.

At the start of 2012, I wouldn’t have believed that I would be in my kitchen offering coffee to a FEMA employee as a result of damage to our house due to Hurricane Sandy, not to mention discussing our situation with a flood insurance agent who had helped Hurricane Katrina victims. (Learning that put our problems in perspective.) We are still cleaning up and I will be surrounded by cardboard boxes and the smell of toxic floodwater for a long time to come. I’m sure Susan also wasn’t expecting to spend eight days in the dark with no power or heat.

Hurricane Sandy has at least brought the topic of global warming up again for public discussion. Remember when Mitt Romney joked at the Republican convention about the rising ocean? Turns out it wasn’t such a funny joke.

Meterologists may argue about whether Sandy was caused by global warming, but many scientists believe that global warming turned what might have been a really bad storm into a “super storm.” Yet there can be no argument that the melting of the arctic ice caps is due to global warming: The ice caps are melting at an unprecedented speed. So what? you say. The polar ice caps have melted faster in the last 20 years than in the past 10,000 years. When this ice melts, global sea levels rise; meltwater pools absorb heat from the sun that white ice would have reflected back into space. This accelerates climate change even more.

2012 was also notable for being a dustbowl year. The US experienced the worst drought in fifty years with 80 percent of arable and pasture land affected by the highest temperatures ever recorded.

Fifty years ago Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which began the environmental movement. Now this movement seems tired, as if nothing will rouse it, even the prospects of floods, droughts, melting ice caps, and hurricanes, not to mention disappearing animal species, and other environmental disasters.

Perhaps before the New Year begins, we need a reminder of why we need to make the environment a priority. Here’s a BBC One video a Frogs Are Green friend sent us. We all need to get re-inspired to help save our beautiful world:

Some of information/ideas in this post came from The Independent (UK) article: Review of the Environment 2012: In the Eye of the Storm