Isabel’s Warning for the Future
In this issue, Margaret Tearman recalls the tempestuous visitor that most of us will never forget: the storm called Isabel.
If you lived in proximity to Chesapeake Bay four years ago this week, chances are you see reminders every day of how Isabel changed the communities around you.
When the wall of water receded, seven people were dead. Several thousand homes and, especially in Annapolis, businesses were damaged. Losses climbed well over one-half billion dollars. We were left with many stories of heroism and changed lives.
The storm and its surging tides were a reminder of the perils we face with the onset of climate change. We’ve been fortunate this year, unlike many along the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean. So far.
Yet we’re told by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change some 2,500 of the world’s best scientists that our part of Earth will experience more hurricanes and wild storms, like Isabel.
“What the heck am I supposed to do?” you might ask.
China as Bill Burton notes this week and India will be pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere no matter what we do. “You had your industrial revolution,” they say. “Why shouldn’t we have ours?” Good questions.
There are huge political issues everywhere in the way of turning this tanker around. There are family issues, too.
By most accounts, we need to prepare for an age of limits. A dozen years from now, give or take a few, we’ll see the beginning of the end of oil pumping, with global production beginning a gradual decline.
That bunch of scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wasn’t totally gloomy: They said that a concerted effort now could forestall the worst of the climate changes, catastrophes like environmental refugees and mass extinction of species.
That means telling politicians that besides our wars on terror, Iraq and drugs, we need a king-sized, butt-kicking war on climate change.
In Chesapeake Country we have a lot to lose and a lot to gain by doing what we can to protect our neighbors, and our Bay, from a climate where storms like Isabel are no longer measured in century-long intervals.