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Abigail B. Calkin

A Blog of Flashbacks

Stop Polluting Earth!

September 2023

August 2023: We are out of the worst of COVID, our three-year pandemic. That is very good. On a different note, though, we need to do much more to stop polluting Earth, our one and only planet Earth. Think about what’s happening these days.

Alaska and all of the circumpolar north—Greenland, northern Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada, all of Alaska—plus Antarctica now warm at double the rate of the rest of the planet. The few places that I just named, have isostatic rebound—Why are we so lucky that our chances of flooding are minimal? Our land rises because the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago. Here in the corner of Southeast Alaska where I live, the land rises about an inch to an inch and a half a year. In northern Scandinavia, the land rises about a centimeter a year. (Two and a half centimeters equals one inch.) The places I named are at higher latitudes, but the melting is a double-edged sword. As our ice melts, our land beneath has had approximately 57 pounds per cubic foot (or 917 kilograms per cubic meter) lifted off its back. Ah! The weight is gone and I, the land, can rise. The other half of the double-edged sword is not good for the rest of the planet. The current melting ice goes somewhere and that is into the seas. The sea level rises on most of the planet. Places like Madagascar, Florida and Hawaii have sea water encroaching. The Marshall Islands is another extreme example. The water has to go somewhere and it severely encroaches on these and other low islands. The Marshall Islands may be gone in 30 years. What happens to the people and their culture?

In August 2023, we had floods in Norway, fires in western Canada and the western United States, the worst fire in a century in Hawaii. The Panama Canal is too low for some ships to pass through. Yet sea levels rise across the globe from Africa to Florida and the rest of the eastern US. Siberia burns. The Canary Islands burn. Yellowknife, Northwest Territory, Canada is above the Arctic Circle and it burns. Sinkholes in Siberia. Glaciers melt. Two dams burst in Libya and flood Derna. A week later, the Red Crescent and the city report 11,300 dead and another 10,000 still missing. Yes, the dams had problems that remained unfixed, but that desert also had a year’s worth of rain, 16 inches, in 24 hours.

Wake up, people! Wake up citizens of the planet! We’re all in this together.

The worst causes of climate change are fossil fuels, burning forests, and raising livestock. Why are people razing the Amazon Forest? To create more land to raise cattle. Wait! How much sense does that make? None.

Meanwhile oil and fossil fuel magnates increase their wealth and power, all at the cost to the planet, themselves, and to the rest of us who dwell here.

Instead of pursuing the safety of our planet, too many people think they focus on the moral and ethical issues of the situation. We know that. Now we must do something about it. If we’d all behave ourselves and mind our own morals, we’d have the time to focus on what really matters to our survival—saving the planet.

David Fenton wrote a book, The Activist’s Media Handbook: Lessons from 50 Years as a Progressive Agitator. He coins the term that we have a “blanket of pollution" trapping the heat of Earth. Each oil and gas emission makes that blanket thicker. Thus, we trap the heat and get warmer temperatures, more floods, and more forest fires.

July was the hottest month in modern times and August shaped up to be more of the same, another month of extremes. I read both the New York Times, my hometown paper from my teen years, and The Guardian, another paper I started reading as a teenager living in England. According to one of these news sources, in the United States alone, a tropical storm swept across the Southwest, another struck Texas, Maui burned, and a blistering heat dome sat atop the middle of the country. In India, torrential rains triggered deadly landslides, Morocco and Japan hit new heat records, and southern Europe braced for another scorching heat wave.       

Getting back to Derna, the flood that hit the city had two causes, one manmade by two dams that were in danger of some collapse and one environmental—16 inches of rain fell on a desert in 24 hours. Yes, I repeat myself and I hope you hear.

I lived in Kansas the year 1993.We had 9 inches 0f rain one Friday and 7 inches the following Friday. Water poured through the limestone rock walls in the basement of our house and bubbled up through the cracks in the concrete floor. Kansas is no desert, but we had trouble handling that much. Sections of Libya’s city and all the people swept out to sea. Drowned in the middle of the night. When will our turn for an equavalent disaster come?

I cannot end this blog without mention again of our overuse of fossil fuels and the amount of plastics we use, which, of course, come as a byproduct of oil. I saw this billboard online.

One of Fossil Free Media’s billboards calling out oil and gas firms for their role in fueling climate crisis.

One of Fossil Free Media’s billboards calling out oil and gas firms for their role in fueling climate crisis. Photograph: Fossil Free Media
Big oil uncovered US news

Brought to you by big oil’: US billboards call out companies for record heatwaves

Fossil Free Media, a non-profit media organization, installed the ads in cities rocked by heatwaves including Phoenix and Austin

People, we now have a huge series of natural disasters in the world, more than usual. We need to address them immediately and should not delay one more day.

What will you do today and tomorrow to help? Write it down and do it.

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