2006-12-14 / Editorial

?EDITORIAL?

Warning drumbeat of a warming world

EDITORIAL

This week researchers released yet another report forecasting the dire consequences of our continued use of carbon-based fuels. The ice across the Artic is melting so quickly, they advised, that by the year 2040 the North Pole will be an open sea. At the current pace, the ice will be gone quicker than they originally thought, the researchers said.

Given the season, the first quip that comes to mind is “what will Santa do?” This is serious stuff, though. The Northwest Passage would finally be open and ships could sail across the top of the world. At the same time, the massive ice loss will doom a number of species. Goodbye polar bears.

Whether or not the world’s sea levels will rise more than 28 feet will depend upon how much ice melts around Greenland, the researchers said.

The NASA-funded report is the latest gloomy forecast concerning our warming world. Just recently, researchers predicted that in another 20 or so years the “bread basket” of the United States, responsible for much of our nation’s food supply, will have moved north into Canada.

If we believe the scientists, change is coming at an ever-growing pace. Only 100 years ago, winters were so cold here in Jamestown that the islanders cut ice blocks from the ponds to store for use in the summer. The ice on West Passage was reported to be so thick that a horse and wagon team was driven from West Ferry to Saunderstown.

Today we’re seeing plants, animals, and insects move into new territories to the north due to the warmer climate. Those species native to these once cold areas are disappearing.

Climatologists say the warming trend will also result in more drastic, destructive weather conditions.

Next week, we’ll welcome the first day of winter, and we’re wondering if winter will ever arrive. The ski resorts in northern New England are bemoaning the lack of snow, as are their fellow destinations in the Alps.

There are those who argue that this is normal. The world may be warming, but it’s part of a natural cycle that has nothing to do with our increasing pollution of the environment, they claim.

Should we wait and see? Is it too late to slow or halt the trend?

The U.S. has been the lead polluter of the world. We are about to be eclipsed by China, where the economy is

growing by more than 10 percent annually.

Now the U.S. should take the lead in helping the world move away from its voracious consumption of oil, coal, and natural gas. The U.S. can be on the forefront of alternative energy research while actively promoting conservation and clean technology.

Hopefully we still have time to save the world for the generations to come. Do your part at home by using low-wattage fluorescent bulbs. Write to the president, your congressman, and senator. Talk to your state legislators. Encourage the Town Council to pursue wind energy.

In the end, the world’s future is up to us.

— Jeff McDonough

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