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The danger of climate change

Although the subject of climate change and its effect on our planet has been debated for decades, there has been slow reaction from leading industrial countries to take drastic steps to alter the amount of chemical pollution that continues to weaken Earth's protective shield from the sun's powerful rays.

There is little dispute among most scientists that much warmer temperatures are not only causing the oceans to rise, but will eventually disturb the cycle of agricultural development that is so essential for global food supply.

This is not some science-fiction gimmick for world leaders and economic power executives to play games with for political or financial gain. The long-range consequences for all who inhabit this part of the creation could be beyond our imagination if nothing significant is done to at least attempt to curb the present trend.

A conference in South Korea by leading scientists to look into the potential effects of global climate change may or may not result in any positive moves by the world's most powerful countries. But concerns some have already expressed should not be ignored. For instance, with significant changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming, food production could be so drastically changed that civilisation itself could be under threat.

A recent United Nations report on the subject contains alarming scientific information as to why climate change needs urgent attention from all industrial nations — considerable damage has already taken place. In fact, some officials are hoping it is not too late to cut back on fossil fuels, whose use they claim is a key element in helping to damage our stratospheric protection from the sun.

The UN report estimates that the cost for reducing use of carbon dioxide could be in the region of $54 trillion. They point out that the cost of doing nothing against climate change could be higher, with millions facing conditions never seen before on the planet. Of even greater concern is that the report indicates that scientists believe Earth may very well be in a crisis mode with ten years if action is not taken now.

That crisis could involve less food production as a result of scorched land, making it extremely difficult for places such as Bermuda, which relies heavily on imports. However, there is another potential problem that cannot be ignored. There is no need to glance at the panic button just now, but with the Arctic melting and causing oceans to rise, low-lying land areas could become part of the ocean floor.

It is like a huge ship crossing the Atlantic, with a small hole beneath the surface causing water to enter the vessel — at a slow rate. Although all would seem normal, unless that hole is detected and action is taken to stop the flow, it would be only a matter of time before the ship is at risk of sinking. The difference between that scenario and climate change is that officials know global warming is taking place, but are battling over what to do about it.

If political interest and economic concerns are placed above saving the Earth, a history teacher in the future somewhere may begin a class by asking students to name places on the planet that were overtaken by the rising oceans.

We can only hope that class never becomes a reality. Much will depend on what industrial nations do now to prevent it.

Critical issue: an iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland

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Published October 13, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated October 13, 2018 at 9:12 am)

The danger of climate change

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