Week of September 22, 2019

Every day it seems that there is something else that draws the world’s attention to the ongoing list of environmental issues that are threatening the health of the planet and affecting the most vulnerable of its citizens.  This summer has been a wild one filled with stories of melting ice sheets, burning of the Amazon Rainforest, and plastic debris in every level of the ocean. Adding to the list are the rain and flood events in the US, heat waves in Europe, hurricanes made stronger by forming over warm water—and now, the permafrost in the Arctic is melting much faster than predicted.  Scientists now say that they underestimated both the amount of stored carbon and methane in the permafrost, but also the rate of the melting process. The release of both carbon dioxide and methane could be in the billions of tons of emissions per year. This is two to three times the amount used in scientific models just a few years ago. If the world wishes to follow the Paris Accord and limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees C—the deadline needs to change from 2050 to 2040.  The melting permafrost is changing the arctic landscape into one of thousands of ponds, lakes and wetlands and has made whole villages move to higher ground. The Arctic residents natural “permafrost freezer” is unreliable. Once again, the citizens of the area must deal with the ongoing consequences of climate change. Their roads are flooded, plumbing broken, buildings sinking and shorelines eroding. The whole area is on track to being opened up in colder months that will be mostly ice-free.  This openness might bring some economic progress for people there, but the area will also be prey to those out to develop more drilling and mining—increasing the over all emissions—which, of course, continues to heat the planet. We have been warned. Is it time to change the heading from climate change to climate emergency?
(Yes, the Trump Administration has said, “we are out of this agreement that hurts the US economy”.  The truth is that, according to the Paris Accord’s rules, any removal can’t begin until Nov. 2019 with a formal letter to the UN.  Then, it must wait a year –Nov. 2020 until we are officially out. US funds for PA projects have been largely withdrawn and we are no longer the world leader in addressing climate issues )
EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Please read the September issue of the National Geographic Magazine on the Arctic.  Pray for the people needing to deal with the realities of climate change right now.