The Alarm Bell Has Rung On Climate Change

To The Reader’s Forum:

A canopy of bright stars shining in the moonless sky was reflected by the dead calm sea. The cold air, just below freezing, was starting to sink into the bones of Seaman Frederick Fleet as he shuffled his feet to keep warm and stay awake while standing watch in the crow’s nest nearly 100 feet above the throbbing deck of the Titanic cutting through the frigid North Atlantic at close to top speed. “Iceberg, right ahead,” he yelled into the telephone to the bridge at the same time ringing the crow’s nest bell three times in warning of something in the ship’s path. Sixth Officer James Moody received the call, thanked Fleet, relayed the message to First Officer Murdoch who ordered ‘hard astarboard’ to avoid the berg but it was already too late. Less than a minute later the Titanic struck the ice and though it took 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink, it’s fate was already sealed.

We find ourselves now in a similar situation, we have heard but ignored the warnings for 30 years. Over that time those warnings have not changed, they’ve only become more precise. Call it what you will; Global Warming, Climate Change, or Climate Crisis, it is as deadly and real as cold ice in the North Atlantic.

The Titanic had received six warnings of sea ice from other ships starting at 9:00 that morning with the last warning coming just an hour and ten minutes before striking the iceberg. The reports were serious enough to slightly change course southward but the ship did not slow down. There were schedules to keep and passengers to satisfy.

We too refuse to slow down. We are steaming on a course of business as usual toward a certain collision and an uncertain future. There are profits to make and vacations to take and it is just too inconvenient to change.

That we are being warned that we have 10 or 12 or 15 years to change does not mean that the world will end in a decade. It does mean that we have that much time to turn our ship and avoid the collision, to avoid crossing that tipping point. Not everyone perished on that doomed ship. Neither will everyone perish from climate change, there will be survivors but the loss of life and suffering will be catastrophic. Crossing that tipping point in the near future does not mean the world will end. It took the Titanic almost 3 hours to sink after hitting the iceberg but its fate was sealed. So too will our fate be sealed if we fail to respond to the warning. The alarm bell has rung.

Tom Meara