Environment

Linda Lyon: We Are Killing the Planet: Does Anyone Care?

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Linda Lyon, a military veteran and former president of the Arizona School Board Association, writes here about the devastating effects of climate change and the lack of will to confront it.

Consider some of the evidence she offers:

The news over the past month has been full of climate change stories. You’ve no doubt seen that Lake Powell, Lake Mead and the Great Salt Lake are all at record lows and although drops were predicted, the pace at which they are happening, is shocking. Lake Powell is now below the target level requiring mandatory cutbacks next year to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico with California following if the decline continues.

Record heat blasted the Pacific Northwest last month, with Portland hitting 116 degrees and Seattle 108 degrees, both record highs. Even more surprising, was the 121 degree temperature hit in the British Columbiavillage of Lytton.

The deaths of almost 200 people is attributed to the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave, 50 hawk chickswere found to have flung themselves from their nests 50 feet high just to try to escape the heat, an estimated one billion mussels, sea stars and other shore-dwellers died from exposure to unusually hot air, and countless fish are struggling to survive, including the endangered Chinook salmon which can’t survive beyond their egg stage in overheated waters.

And it isn’t just in the Pacific Northwest. As of July 23rd, the U.S. had set 585 all-time heat records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). One place, Death Valley, hit 130, considered the hottest reliable temperature ever recorded there.

According to the University of Nebraska’s Drought Monitor, 60% of the U.S. West is in exceptional or extreme drought with less than 1% of the West not in drought or abnormally dry. Average rain- and snowfall per year in the West has fallen from 22 inches per year in the 1980s and 1990s, to 19 inches from 2010 to 2020 and only 13.6 inches from July 2020 to June 2021. Now in a megadrought, the West has extremely low soil moisture, setting the stage for more frequent, and much larger and hotter wildfires.

These fires now rage across the U.S. West, and in Oregon alone, over 475,000 acres have burnt thus far in eight fires, with the largest, the Bootleg fire, generating so much energy and extreme heat that it’s creating its own clouds and thunderstorms and sending dense smoke 3,000 miles from one side of the country to the other. By the third week in July, 60 other fires were burning across the American West for a total of over one million acres consumed by fire. In fact, the average million acres burned in wildfires each year has doubled in the past two decades. And, they are happening earlier in the year and more often over the years, negatively impacting the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate.

Open the link and read it all.

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