This past October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report, describing a looming catastrophe that demands aggressive global response now to avert its devastating consequences in the next twenty to thirty years.
The enormity and complexity of the issue has had paralyzing effects, leading to complacency or outright refutation of the facts. Add to this the scientific uncertainties and mysteries that keep us from facing the realities. David Wallace Wells, New York Times Deputy Editor, wrote in his recent New York Times opinion column, “We are all living in delusion, unable to really process the news from science that climate change amounts to an all-encompassing threat. Indeed, a threat the size of life itself.”
While individual action is important, collective political action is necessary to achieve the massive changes that will move us both to (1) the slow-down of global warming from a low-carbon economy, and (2) reduced impacts from the effects of warming already underway. In his Gates Notes, Bill Gates recently stated that “to stop the planet from getting substantially warmer, we need breakthroughs in how we make things, grow food, and move people and goods—not just how we power our homes and cars. That massive action takes government, inspired thought leaders, industry, as well as an educated, open-eyed, committed electorate.
Sea Level Rise, a by-product of global warming, threatens Broward County because of our low elevation, porous geology, and adjacency to the Atlantic Ocean. Does Broward County have an ethical responsibility to participate in the global conversation and enlighten its citizens with more urgency? While the nation seems to be paralyzed and behind the eight ball in preparing for sea level rise we, in Broward County are considered national leaders in dealing with these challenges. Can Sea Level Rise be stopped? Ultimately who will pay for it: Federal, State, local government? Coal and oil industry? Homeowners and investors? Are these actions only costs, or is there a positive Return on Investment (ROI)?