The results of the midterms are in – some good and some not so good. I do believe that things are a bit more balanced than before. Debbie Deere’s loss is a blow to her district and our community. I hope to see Debbie on our ballot again. She has too much intelligence, integrity and commitment to our community not to return her to office.
On to another area of concern: the Earth. The Climate Report was released two weeks ago, raising concern about the effects of human activity on our planet. Thirteen federal agencies gathered data for the report. The predictions are terrifying. Of huge concern is the increasing ocean temperature that is not only destroying habitat for polar bears and other wildlife but also increasing the volume of free water on the planet.
A few years ago, we took a wonderful cruise in the south Pacific, visiting Tahiti and many other beautiful places. One of the most interesting places was Fanning Island, an atoll island in the Kiribati chain of islands. The people there were dear. They have beautiful children and support themselves by farming seaweed and making crafts with shells and other natural products.
I fear for Fanning Island and the other atoll islands. They will be the first to suffer the ravages of the rising sea. Fanning Island is only two meters above sea level. Another of the atoll islands has already seen a warning of the future. During a tidal surge caused by the close proximity of the moon, their hospital was flooded. New mothers were carried to the school that was on higher ground. One resident said that such an event combined with a storm would wipe out the island. Some islands will require evacuation as seawater pollutes wells, leaving no access to fresh water. The government has purchased some land in Fiji for refugees.
Areas of Florida and other coastal states are destined to lose acres of land to the rising sea. The Climate Report estimates that one trillion acres of real estate might be affected.
Our coral reefs are dying. Tornadoes are occurring in places that never have had tornadoes. Farm yields have decreased due to pollution. Wildfires are becoming more frequent and more ferocious due to droughts.
Most Americans believe that our climate is changing due to the actions of man. Our current government is not reflecting public concern. The president repeatedly responds to climate questions with “I don’t believe it.” His administration had sought repeal of climate protection efforts of past presidents. Remember all of the talk about getting coal mines back in operation? Coal and other fossil fuels have caused the problem.
We must adhere to the Kyoto Protocol. We must restore climate change regulations. We must support alternative sources of power. We must protect the Earth. Our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it.
Jane Gies is a Leavenworth Times columnist.