Letter to the editor:
While news of the economy, the recent government shutdown and political frivolities abound, other issues — particularly those concerning the environment — are easily eclipsed by “more pressing” matters. With the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 report, the need to change this apathetic mentality grows increasingly clear: global warming is real, it is perpetuated by man, and its effects have and will continue to worsen.
Flooding in Colorado, Hurricaine Sandy on the East Coast, record-setting heat waves here in Ohio — while many citizens are likely cognizant of these climatic events, they might not liken them to global warming. The IPPC report, by contrast, predicts these events to amplify in both magnitude and frequency in the future because of higher temperatures. The report goes on to note decreases in glacier volume and Arctic sea ice cover, and by effect, sea level rises, as consequences.
Here in Ohio, extreme storms are 30 percent more frequent now than in 1948, and since 2007, nearly 73 out of 100 Ohioans — about 8,400,900 people — have been touched by weather-related disasters, according to Environment Ohio.
Additionally, rising temperatures are fueling the growth of toxic, blue-green algae in our coveted waterways, thrusting our most beautiful landscapes — most notably Lake Erie — in harm’s way. Thus to liken global warming to mere “myth” is to discount the countless examples of climate change that have already impacted our friends, families and neighbors.
With the seeming urgency of these effects, optimistic folk might assume the government has already taken action, has already restricted carbon emissions from Big Polluters and power plants. False. The EPA’s recently-released carbon rule, which for the first time sets standards on power plants, is facing fierce opposition from fossil fuel lobbyists and congressmen alike. It is thus up to the general public, local leaders and advocacy organizations like Environment Ohio, to mobilize behind this undeniably beneficial legislation.
In fact, Environment Ohio, a public interest research group that advocates “Clean Air, Clean Water, and Open Spaces,” has already taken root here at Ohio State. The organization is a constituent body in the larger group Environment America and has brought its Stop Global Warming Campaign to OSU in the hopes of both raising awareness and recruiting future members. Without the monetary sway, fossil fuel interests boast, organizations like these must rely on public outreach to achieve their aims: a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future.
As an intern with Environment Ohio’s campaign, I have witnessed firsthand the importance of grassroots organizing not only in combatting the powerful pocketbooks of fossil fuel interests, but also in engaging the often times apathetic citizenry. While this type of engagement might seem daunting, Environment Ohio and organizations of the like are constantly seeking volunteers, interns and fellows to guide and instruct. Environment Ohio is currently accepting applications for its two-year fellowship program, a crash course in environmental activism that involves meeting with policy makers, building local and national coalitions and ultimately gaining invaluable experience.
And considering “climate change … from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale,” as the IPCC report notes, the need to support organizations like these is more than apparent. We must focus less on political frivolities — on the hooting and hollering of our irascible Congress — and instead on combatting global warming. While this task might indeed seem daunting, the first step is clear: support the EPA’s new carbon rule, as well as environmental organizations backing it.
First-year in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability
Organizing Intern with Environment Ohio