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There’ve been some strange sights in St. Louis this winter – golfers playing on New Year’s Eve, neighbors hanging holiday lights in their shirt sleeves. It’s hard to ignore this winter’s mild temperatures – harder still because we constantly hear about global warming, and news like rising ocean levels, ecological disruptions and endangered polar bears.
But we live in St. Louis; what’s that got to do with us? Melting ice caps won’t affect us here, nor will disappearing polar bears. Truth be told, we like not having to cope with frigid weather and high heating bills.
If you’re ambivalent about global warming, though, I have one word for you: storms. Surely we all remember the massive wind storm that downed trees and power lines here last July, and the vicious November ice storm. Scientists tell us one inevitable result of our warming planet is more extreme weather – severe storms, flooding, droughts and heat waves – resulting in property damage, power and transportation disruptions, lower crop and fishery yields, and other natural and economic disasters. Not a pretty picture.
It’s time to take global warming seriously by cutting back on the fossil fuels that cause greenhouse gases. Some of the ways we can do this are to drive less and buy fuel efficient cars, and to reduce energy use at home with things like energy star appliances and compact flourescent bulbs.
We should also demand that our national leaders stop ignoring the climate crisis. The U.S. urgently needs a national policy that caps carbon dioxide emissions. The White House and Congress should address this immediately.
The time to act is now.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Liz Forrestal is Executive Director for Missouri Votes Conservation, a non-profit that advocates for pro-environmental legislation in Missouri. She also participates in a number of community environmental groups, and is a board member of Audubon Missouri.