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Rising temperatures prove action needs to be taken

Reed Schneider, Opinion Editor
February 6, 2013
Filed under Opinion

Every winter in Fairfield, Wis., Nina Bradley, daughter of the famed ecologist and pioneer of wildlife management Aldo Leopold, walks down the same trail her father walked before her and studies nature around her. As an 89-year-old, she has made increasingly convincing observations — the world is getting warmer.

This is far from startling news because Bradley and her father’s research concludes the same thing hundreds of other studies worldwide do, according to Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel. The problem then becomes a matter of what can be done about it. Instead of focusing on politics and fashion, there needs to be more news about the way our world is changing around us. Slowing down and preventing this climate from cooking us needs to become a priority.

Along with Bradley’s observations, a New World Bank-commissioned report warns the world’s average temperature is on track to warm up an additional 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. According to the Huffington Post, a world that hot means seas would rise up to three additional feet, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk globally. Horrendous storms would become common and year-round warm climates would become unbearable in the summer.

That’s only taking into account the weather changes. The rising temperatures have an effect on more than just humans. All biological life is affected day by day as it’s forced to adapt to an increasingly higher climate.

It’s as simple as a migratory pattern. Bradley’s father recorded the Canada geese arrived back from their migration in late March, but Bradley’s records show they’re returning a month sooner.

According to Bradley and an analysis of the data by UW-Madison graduate student Sarah D. Wright, plants bloomed and birds returned along the Wisconsin River an average of 7.6 days sooner during the period of 1994 to 2004 than they had between 1935 and 1945. These are only some of the changes occurring right now, and UW-Madison botanist Don Waller suspects there are more to come.

“I see this as the tip of the iceberg,” Waller said. “I never thought I would see definitive biological and physical evidence of global warming just a few years after most of us woke up to it.”

Global warming is happening whether we choose to remain blissfully ignorant or not. Reducing carbon emissions is one way to prevent the rising temperatures. It’s one of the reasons why California, under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, passed a law to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

With the climate changing, the future generations will experience a much different world. Our children and our children’s children are relying on the preventative measures we lay down to keep their future secure. President of the World Bank Group Jim Kim believes the rising temperature can and must be avoided and at least held below a 3.6 degree rise in the coming century.

“Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development,” Kim said. “We need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”

He spoke as a leader and as a parent to the Huffington Post.

“My wife and I have two sons, ages 3 and 12,” Kim said. “When they grow old, this could be the world they inherit. That thought alone makes me want to be part of a global movement that acts now.”

Earth, the only reason we’re able to live and breathe, should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. Even if it’s winter in Wisconsin, our houses, apartments and dormitories don’t need to feel as hot as a midsummer day. Instead of driving our own cars with more than enough room for just one person, we could carpool. We could even bike or take a walk when it’s warmer.

Preserving our future isn’t just an action we must take. It’s a frame of mind we must embrace. Generations to come are counting on us.