Rising sea levels: This changes everythingAn alarming new study was quietly released in January. The study found that global sea levels could rise by between one and eight feet by the end of this century, placing millions of people in harm’s way. The new report takes into account the latest disappearing polar ice cover.
Mar 17, 2017
By Anil Netto
An alarming new study was quietly released in January. The study found that global sea levels could rise by between one and eight feet by the end of this century, placing millions of people in harm’s way. The new report takes into account the latest disappearing polar ice cover.
The projected rise is much higher than the one to three feet rise projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013.
Now, you would think that this report would be headline news around the world — accompanied by wall-to-wall news analyses in talk shows to find out where we had gone wrong and what measures could be taken to counter this. After all, the latest study was no ordinary one. It was published by the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Association, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Geological Survey and Rutgers University.
But you would be wrong: their report received hardly any coverage.
Why is this? Why are people being kept in the dark about what the future holds?
Simply because such news is inconvenient. The rising sea levels are caused by melting polar ice and glaciers and thermal expansion of oceans as they warm.
Now, glaciers and icebergs don’t melt by themselves. The corporate media are reluctant to give this new study much coverage because it would mean highlighting some of the root causes of global warming. And they know the implications: fingers would then point at the biggest corporate polluters and contributors to global warming.
The politicians, for their part, don’t want to highlight the issue because many of them are close to the top 1 per cent, who may also be the biggest contributors to climate change and rising sea levels. Not to mention, these culprits may also be major political donors.
Moreover, many elected representatives have a tendency of thinking only of the short-term ie, maybe five or ten years into the future, until the next election or the one beyond that. They are hardly going to worry about what the world is going to be like in 2100.
But this would be a fatal oversight for the rest of us.
As Francis, the Bishop of Rome, noted in his encyclical Laudato Si: “Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.”
If we want to turn the tide of climate change, the implications are far-reaching. Francis said things would get worse if we continue with current models of production and consumption.
In any case, climate change is closely tied to income inequality. The rich, the larger polluting firms and the wealthier nations are among the biggest polluters and emitters of greenhouses gases compared to their poorer counterparts. As the Bishop of Rome also pointed out, climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is also an issue of social justice.
So that is why we need to tackle climate change together with social disparities.
Unfortunately, in the world of politics, business and economics, both these issues are treated separately.
Politicians and economists still live in a fantasy world and talk about economic growth without discussing the impact on:
-- inequality ie, who benefits from this growth and where the wealth is concentrated
-- the environment ie, resource depletion, pollution, loss of biodiversity and green spaces, and the impact on global warming and the climate change
It is a sad fact that often the biggest polluters, and their supporters among the top 1 one per cent, are also responsible for trying to loosen regulations for environmental protection and promote greater consumption among the people.
The first step to action should come from awareness, and all should be aware of the implications of not acting to prevent rising sea levels before it is too late.
Fourth Sunday of Lent: Searching for Sight
“Being in the know” is the sad attitude of many people throughout the world who are certain that their view of something or other is the only reasonable view.