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The scientists are right

By Will Parry

Yes, there was a heat wave in March, running in a broad swath across the United States, from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast. Weather stations reported that by March 21, more than 2,200 daily high temperature records had been broken.

International Falls, Minnesota, “the Icebox of the Nation,” exceeded its all-time historic high March temperature by 22 degrees. Weather historians say this may be the largest margin ever for any U.S. station with a century’s worth of records.

Veteran Minnesota weatherman Paul Douglas blogged that “ this is OFF THE SCALE WEIRD, even for Minnesota.”

Mother Earth has a message for us: the scientific community is right. The weather extremes that scientists forecast are with us. Not in some hazy future, but right now.

And we keep on generating carbon dioxide with our massive, ongoing, night-and-day consumption of fossil fuels.

Every day, from our kitchen window, I can see, two blocks away, the southbound lanes of Interstate Five, cars and trucks racing past. Endlessly. Endlessly. Endlessly.

Bill McKibben, the outspoken activist and environmentalist, has dedicated his life to saving the planet as a viable home for its multitude of creatures. McKibben’s organization is called 350. org. The scientific consensus is that 350 parts per million is the absolute upper limit of carbon dioxide that life on Earth can tolerate.

We’re bumping up against that limit right now.

McKibben calls our attention to the profound significance of the hot weather in March, “an early season outbreak of heat completely without precedent in its scale and spread.”

April and May frosts may kill off the plants that have budded early. Soil exposed by the retreat of snow will dry out much earlier, raising the risk of drought and forest fires. Reservoirs will start evaporating early.

“But the real fears are things we can’t anticipate, simply because we’re moving into uncharted territory,” McKibben says. “We’ve never seen anything like what we’re seeing in March.”

On May 5, McKibben and 350.org are planning a day for people on all continents to testify to the effects of climate change.

“There will be Pakistanis forced from their homes in the worst flooding the country’s ever seen, and Somalians dealing with a drought horrible even by the standards of the Horn of Africa. Thais, who watched flood do damage last fall equal to 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and El Salvadorans who watched 15 years’ worth of development wash away in a week of record rains,” McKibben says.

We in PSARA should find the ways to enlist in Bill McKibben’s valiant crusade to save our planet – for our own children, and for all the children of the world.

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