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Australian news, and some related international items

Climate change; When will we start to protect our children?

Uncontrolled climate change could result in disaster for our kids. Will we do something?

Mike Hoffmann, Opinion contributorPublished 5:00 a.m. ET Aug. 31, 2018

It’s hard imagining anyone doing that, but it is essentially what we are doing to our kids and grandkids by not raising our voices about climate change and the 1-in-20 chance that disaster lies ahead for them. It is bad enough that we are likely on the path to exceed the 3.6 degree Fahrenheit goal stated in the Paris Agreement, which will result in dire consequences such as increasing droughts and wildfires and inundation of low lying coastal areas because of sea level rise.

If we continue on that path without taking the necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is a 5 percent chance of catastrophic consequences — even an existential threat to humanity by mid-century, according to experts at the Scripps Institute.

We can see the change is happening

We all take chances, but few would board a plane with a 5 percent chance of crashing. In reality, air travel is incredibly safe because we trust those who design, build and test aircraft and manage the flow of thousands of flights a day.

A lot of engineering and science has made aircraft and air travel safe. The same holds for the science behind climate change — a lot of smart and dedicated people who have their own children and grandchildren, working hard to understand what is happening now and what the future holds, and find solutions.

Think of one person who is much younger than you whom you care deeply about — a son, daughter, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew — and whisper their name and put them on that plane and watch them take off on their journey. Then consider what their future holds given what is happening all around us — it’s getting warmer, large wild fires are more frequent in California, it’s getting too hot to fly planes out of Phoenix, there are more downpours hitting New York City and Boston, and Alaska is melting. And then consider what that younger person’s life journey looks like in a changing climate: It’s not going to get better. By attaching the name of someone you care about, it becomes personal and for many, strikes home.

We care about our kids and grandkids. In the USA, there are an estimated 49 million children under the age of 12, and more than 70 million who are under 18. They can’t vote, and few contribute to political causes or participate in political debates. They don’t have a lot of power, although they are gaining ground on their own in the courts. They are depending on us to ensure a safe and prosperous future, like that air traffic controller who is keeping your loved one safe, but let’s take a look at what lies ahead for them. Ask yourself, what course, what flight plan, are we setting for their future?

Our kids face the consequences of our choices

Let’s fast-forward to the year 2048, when today’s under-12 crowd will be in their early 30s and 40s. Most of them will be settled into careers, with young families, and relatively secure — or maybe not. It all depends on the path we choose to take now…………

So today, those who won’t accept the truth about climate change are messing with our children and grandchildren — their life journey. For the vast majority who do believe we face a grand challenge, raise your voice, get involved, and whisper that name again. It’s personal, very personal. What will they say about us in 2048? Did we try?

Mike Hoffmann is executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and a professor in the Department of Entomology. See also his TEDx Talk, Climate Change: It’s time to raise our voices

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.  

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September 3, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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