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While a record-breaking cold snap is headed for parts of the Midwest, summer in Australia has brought dangerous heatwaves that are threatening people and wildlife. As NPR reported, Australia’s State Emergency Service declared the heat wave a threat to public safety, as an increasing number of Australians have called ambulances and gone to hospitals in Adelaide for heat-associated illnesses.
While the thought of avoiding winter might sound nice, the actual impact of warming temperatures in cold months is nothing to wish for. Already in most U.S. states, winters have already warmed faster than any other season and as Climate Central reported those warmer winters are coming with serious (and rising) costs. America’s cold-weather recreation sector has a particularly big stake in warming winters. Activities from downhill skiing to ice fishing and outdoor ice hockey all rely on low temperatures, ample snowfall, or both. Every year, winter recreation contributes billions of dollars to the United States’ economy.
Throughout the last two decades, Americans have fluctuated in their concern over climate change but it’s only been in the past couple of years that the concern had neared 50%. Headline-grabbing natural disasters may be helping to drive up the consensus and as The Hill reported, in the Associated Press-NORC poll released last Tuesday, 48 percent of respondents said they found the science of human-induced climate change more convincing when the poll was taken in November 2018 than they did five years ago. Then a separate poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change revealed that more Americans perceive climate change as a personal issue.
Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 which was right before the modern environmental movement became a fully-fledged political force. He had already been dead for 20 years when the first IPCC report was released and broad national consensus around climate change began to form. And now, 50 years after his death, many thought-leaders wonder what Dr. King would say about the current state of our planet. Though in the news we often see mansions catching on fire in Malibu or hear about sea-level rise coming for the vibrant nightlife of Miami Beach, the untold stories are of how much climate change will impact poor, marginalized communities home and abroad. New York Times climate reporter, Kendra Pierre-Louis and Forbes science contributor Dr. Marshall Shepherd have written about how Dr. King would approach environmentalism today based on clues from his writings and political and religious philosophies and the consensus is climate change and environmental injustice would have been deeply troubling to him.
Environmental risks — extreme weather, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and natural disasters — are the top three most likely risks according to the 2019 survey of 1,000 experts from government, business, academia, and non-governmental organizations. The survey’s release at the outset of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, contained a jarring assessment of these risks, saying that “the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.”
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