It Affects Everyone

NWF   |   October 23, 2007

The article in yesterday’s Washington Post: "At the Poles, Melting Occurring At Alarming Rate" emphasized just how quickly the effects of climate change are beginning to occur. "Things are on more of a hair trigger than we thought," said Ted Scanbos with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO.

I was in Greenland in July and was struck by what the scientists there had to say. They are seeing changes in the ice that they have never seen before. And this NASA video animation shows how dramatically – and disturbingly – the Arctic summer sea ice has shrunk. As of last month, the Arctic summer sea ice extent was the smallest ever recorded – down 25% from the previous record low set in 2005.

Wildlife are struggling to adapt in the Arctic, and not always successfully. Polar bears, seals, and walrus are facing the challenges of daily survival in a changing ecosystem.

And what is happening in the Arctic isn’t just about the Arctic. As Carin Ashjian, a Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist says in the Washington Post article: "It affects everyone." My home state of Pennsylvania is rich in field, forest and agriculture, but the higher temperatures from global warming will bring more flood, drought, and impacts to wildlife in the state.

It’s clear we are reaching the scientific tipping point more quickly than most of us anticipated. But last week I was heartened to see us take another step toward a political tipping point. The Climate Security Act of 2007 is a bipartisan breakthrough that will take us a giant step closer to an historic vote in the United States Senate.

Now more than ever, we need the political courage of our leaders. And we need to speak out – each of us – and demand that our leaders respond now to the urgency of this issue.

This isn’t about left or right – it’s about right and wrong. Global warming will affect each of us. And we have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to speak up and demand meaningful action from our legislators. Let’s not leave this to the next generation. Let’s do our part. Together, we can and we must do this for the sake of our children and the wildlife we share the planet with.

Published: October 23, 2007