Bernie Sanders climate crisis International

Bernie Sanders: This Year Is Set to be the Hottest in History. Congress Must Act Now

If there is not bold, immediate action to address the climate crisis, the quality of life that we are leaving our kids is very much in question
California Wildfires, September 2, 2017 fire in the hills above Burbank, California (Elliott Cowand Jr. / Flickr)

By Bernie Sanders / The Guardian

Editor’s Note: The following are excepts from Bernie Sanders’ latest column with The Guardian, in which he discusses the devastating consequences of climate change to our planet and urges the public to stop denying this obvious reality.

The last eight years have been the eight hottest on record. This year is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this Fourth of July might have been the hottest day in the past 125,000 years.

Climate change is ravaging the planet. We are now seeing floods, droughts, extreme weather disturbances and wild fires causing unprecedented damage. If there is not bold, immediate and united action by governments throughout the world, the quality of life that we are leaving our kids and future generations is very much in question.

In the short term, we will be looking at more melting of the Arctic ice caps, rising sea levels and increased flooding. We will experience more drought and a decrease in food production. We will see major damage caused by intense storms, tornadoes and other extreme weather disturbances. We will see a decline in economic activity and the migration of millions of people as a result of water shortages. We will see a major disruption in all forms of marine life as a result of warming sea water and the acidification of the oceans.

It is no great secret that human beings are not particularly anxious to address painful realities – especially when it requires taking on powerful special interests like the fossil fuel industry. This time we must.

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Over last few weeks we’ve gotten a glimpse of what this dystopian future could look like. The unprecedented forest fires in Quebec, preceded by massive fires in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta, have resulted in dangerously unhealthy air all across the United States. New York, Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities have reported some of their worst air quality levels ever as people with chronic illness have been forced to remain indoors. Meanwhile, during this same period, Texas has experienced a record-breaking heat wave. In Corpus Christi the heat index, a measure of temperature combined with humidity, reached 125F – close to the level at which humans are able to survive.

As devastating as climate change has been for the United States, Europe, China and other developed countries, its impact is even worse for the poorest countries on earth who lack the resources to protect their inhabitants from the growing hunger, disease and migrations that droughts and floods are causing. 

Our Earth is warming rapidly. We see this every day in every part of the world.

Drought, floods, forest fires and extreme weather disturbances are increasing. We see this every day in every part of the world.

Hunger, disease and human migrations are increasing. We see this every day in every part of the world.

Instead of denying this obvious reality, instead of doing the bidding of oil and coal companies, instead of fomenting a new cold war with China, members of Congress must develop an unprecedented sense of urgency about this global crisis. We must bring the world together NOW to address this existential threat. Failure to act will doom future generations to a very uncertain future. For the sake of our common humanity we cannot allow that to happen.

Read the entire column here.

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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is a US senator, and chairman of the health education labor and pensions committee. He represents the state of Vermont, and is the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress

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