We Are All Climate Refugees Now
This summer's fires, droughts, and record-high temperatures should serve as a wake-up call. The longer a narrow and ignorant elite condemns Americans and the rest of humanity to wander aimlessly in the political desert, the more likely it is that we will all end up in a wasteland.
NEW YORK – Modern humans, born into one climate era, called the Holocene, have crossed the border into another, the Anthropocene. But instead of a Moses guiding humanity in this new and dangerous wilderness, a gang of science deniers and polluters currently misguides humanity to ever-greater danger. We are all climate refugees now and must chart a path to safety.
The Holocene was the geological age that started more than 10,000 years ago, with favorable climate conditions that supported human civilization as we know it. The Anthropocene is a new geological era with environmental conditions that humanity has never before experienced. Ominously, the Earth’s temperature is now higher than during the Holocene, owing to the carbon dioxide that humanity has emitted into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and gas, and by indiscriminately turning the world’s forests and grasslands into farms and pastures.
People are suffering and dying in the new environment, with much worse to come. Hurricane Maria is estimated to have taken more than 4,000 lives in Puerto Rico last September. High-intensity hurricanes are becoming more frequent, and major storms are causing more flooding, because of the increased heat transfer from the warming waters of the oceans, the greater moisture in warmer air, and the rise in sea levels – all made more extreme by human-induced climate change.