By Christie Duffy
Some stern warnings for our global future. Scientists and political leaders published a comprehensive report about the affects of climate change.
“The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
This is the latest in a series of reports from a United Nations panel on climate change. The key points made: human influence on the climate system is not only clear but growing. And that we must act quickly while we still have the means to limit the impact, before the changes become irreversible.
It’s a message that reverberates not just in New Jersey, which weathered the damage of Superstorm Sandy, but across the country and the world.
“The U.S. military just issued their quadrennial defense report, and they said that climate change or global warming is the greatest threat to our national security. It’s going to disrupt people around the world and it’s going to cause movement across borders. There is gonna be refugees and there is gonna be war,” said Alan Robock, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University.
Robock is one of hundreds of scientists who contributed to the reports.
“More than 97 percent of climate scientists accept the science of climate change,” he said.
In September, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in New York and around the world to urge action on climate change. Aside from converting our energy sources to wind and solar, Robock says the most important thing you can do is vote.
“When people ask me, ‘What can I do to solve the problem?’ I say it’s more important to change your leaders than your light bulbs,” Robock said. “Your local congressman — everybody has a congressman — you should find out what their policy is.”
Robock says policy makers had a hand in changing the language of this latest reports’ warnings, removing the word “dangerous.”
“Some countries which are big polluters, they don’t want it to say, they want to hide the message,” he said.
Robock says New Jersey is ahead of the curve when it comes to responding to climate change. But he says Gov. Chris Christie took us a step in the wrong direction when he decided to pull New Jersey from RGGI, a nine-state agreement to cap and reduce greenhouse gas. When asked, the governor expresses no regret.
“It is a tax on the people of this state, with no great impact on the environment in my opinion. So I’m not doing it,” Christie said in September.
“I mean right now you pay a sewer fee in your town, you pay to have your trash collected, but to put CO2 in the atmosphere, there is no sewer fee. We’re using it for free, and it’s causing global climate change,” said Robock.
As for the work ahead, Robock says the focus should be on how to adapt and mitigate the affects of climate change.