Editorial roundup: There’s no time to spare on stopping climate change

Published 8:50 pm Friday, August 20, 2021

No sign of Chicken Little in this recently released report. All warnings are to be taken seriously. The sky isn’t falling, but there are mountains of proof that the atmosphere is dangerously warming and that calls for changes that need to be taken seriously and immediately.

The U.N. climate report that came out Monday didn’t reveal any big surprises, but the message is clearer than ever: The Earth is in big trouble and we, as its really careless renters, are responsible for the bulk of the damage.

Scientists have been pointing out the threat of global warming for decades. And despite some people ignoring those warnings or instead claiming wet weather proves there’s no such thing as drought or that wildfires should be blamed on poor management practices, fact is fact.

The report, done by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there is no doubt humans have warmed the planet by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since pre-industrial times. That disturbing piece of truth is based on 14,000 studies that include better data and models than have ever been used before. And unfortunately, firsthand observation has become so much more of a factor in supporting recent findings.

When international reports are released, it’s easy for comfortable Americans to not pay attention. We may think, for the most part, that the biggest problems are occurring elsewhere, especially in poor countries that lack infrastructure. Most of us have enough to eat, have roofs over our heads and can drive to where we want to go.

But if you had to restrict watering your lawn, did not go outside much on some days because of poor air quality, got your boat stuck on a ramp or worried about the soybean crop after this summer of drought, you have recently been affected by climate change.

And it’s not going to get better. Not only are we seeing drought, but we’ve experienced torrential rainstorms in past summers, flooding on local rivers that has wrecked highways, private property and closed off communities, and warmer winters with less snow that can affect water and soil as well as change our recreational opportunities.

We can’t afford to mull over more reports. Governments need to keep passing laws that require cutting fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint of not only business and industry but of individuals. Supporting clean energy, the production of electric cars, conservation efforts and adequate funding of scientific research all have to be part of the solution. Now.

If Minnesotans want to protect their way of life — including its abundant waterways, diverse plant life and reliance on agriculture as a top economic driver — then we have to pay attention and support environmental action.

An added benefit to taking that action is its boost to our economy. A report released this week by Clean Energy Economy MN states that clean energy companies employed 55,329 Minnesotans at the end of 2020. Even though that’s actually a 10.5 percent drop from 2019 attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s clean energy sector grew by 10 percent in the second half of the year — nearly two times the growth rate for jobs in the overall economy.

Global warming isn’t someone else’s problem; it’s a problem we all have to recognize and work together to fix. There’s already been damage we can’t undo; life as we know it is running out of time.

— Mankato Free Press, Aug. 13

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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