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- With the long weekend marking summer’s unofficial end, New York’s weather this summer is telling us a lot about climate change and where we’re headed, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Federation senior scientist Doug Inkley says heat waves we’ve been experiencing, such as our second-hottest June ever, are just the tip of the iceberg.
“We now have a record low amount of ice in the arctic and a record amount of ice melt in Greenland. You put all three of these together and global warming is extremely apparent.”
The same conditions are contributing to devastating wildfires, crop damage and an influx of destructive pests and the diseases some carry, such as West Nile virus, Inkley says. NWF points out that the past 12 months are the hottest ever recorded in the U.S.
In terms of financial impact, the report says that the cost of battling wildfires, now about $3 billion a year, has tripled since the 1990s. It recommends Congress pass legislation that limits greenhouse gas emissions, while spurring clean energy such as wind and solar power.
Inkley says some scenarios we’re seeing this summer, such as large fish kills, also lend insight into what wildlife face in the months to come.
“You have thousands of fish dying because the water is simply too warm for them. Wildlife throughout this coming winter will be stressed because the productivity of the natural foods they eat is way down due to the drought, and they could easily starve to death.”
The issue of climate change is collective in nature, Inkley notes: We all face the consequences, and each of us can participate in the solution.
“It hurts us in our pocketbook, it hurts us in our food sources, and we need to do something about it. We can, but we need to have the guts, as a nation, to step forward.”