Avoiding a climate-change apocalypse

By:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel

As you may have noticed, the end of the year was all about the end of the world. Mayan doomsday prophesies. Rogue planets on a collision course with Earth. Fear-mongering about an artificial “fiscal cliff.” House Republicans doing, well, what they usually do.

Fortunately, for now, life as we know it continues. And scary as all of this sounds, the real horror show, the true existential threat, is yet another crisis of our own making: the catastrophic effects of climate change.

There’s no need to read Revelations or catch a Michael Bay-Jerry Bruckheimer matinee to understand what it will look like. Just Google image search “Hurricane Sandy and Staten Island,” and you’ll get the general idea.

Certainly, it will take much more research to understand whether there’s a direct link between Sandy and climate change. But we do know that storm’s impact was made worse by rising sea levels, increasing ocean temperatures and unusual weather patterns, all of which are definitively connected to climate change.

2012 was the hottest year on record. Arctic sea ice is melting. Sea levels are rising faster than projected. And extreme weather events — droughts, storms, heat waves — are increasing in number and intensity, disproportionately harming the world’s most vulnerable populations.

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