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Baraboo High School students walked out of classes Sept. 20 and gathered at Ochsner Park as part of a "Global Climate Strike."

On Sept. 20, I joined about 40 other adults at Ochsner Park in Baraboo to support students protesting the inaction of those in power to do something about the rapidly warming Earth.

They realize the importance of action before it’s too late because they see the effects of a warming climate in local farm fields and along lake shores and rivers. Not far from Baraboo, people who live on Crystal Lake, just a few miles east of Prairie du Sac, have abandoned their homes forever because of frequent flooding.

For the same reason, residents of Rock Springs, just west of Baraboo, see the need to move the downtown to higher ground. This is happening all over the Midwest as flood waters continue to ravage towns and farm fields.

The reason for the increase in severe weather events is simple. The accumulation of gases like carbon dioxide have dramatically increased due to decades of burning coal, gas, and oil in the use and production of electricity, gasoline and many other products.

It would be reasonable to assume the gases would go up and away into space, but they don’t. Even gases have weight and, although greenhouse gases rise, gravity keeps them in the atmosphere. They’re called greenhouse gases because they form an invisible bowl over the entire earth. Like the glass of a greenhouse, the blanket of gas holds in the heat that warms the Earth when the sun shines and keeps Earth and its waters from cooling as much as it would normally.

We see the results of that all over the world. Fishermen on the oceans have had their seafood harvests decimated by warming waters, and the coral reefs, which act as incubators for marine life, are on the brink of extinction. The rising sea is one reason the state of Louisiana loses the equivalent of one football field of land every 100 minutes.

Temperatures in Europe have broken records in the past few years, polar ice is disappearing and glaciers are melting. Reports from all over the world of devastating landslides due to heavy rains are in the news almost every day.

Increased rainfall isn’t surprising when you figure what goes up must come down. Warmer seas and lakes mean more evaporation, more clouds and more rain. Meanwhile, because of the shifting jet stream, other areas are experiencing severe drought and wildfires along with record-setting heat.

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Climate change deniers say the climate always has changed. That’s true, but what’s happening now is much different. Instead of taking thousands of years, it’s happening much faster than ever before.

A recent NASA report, found at climate.nasa.gov, explains how they know that, “Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.”

NASA also concludes, “Paleoclimate data show that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been in the past 800,000 years. There is no plausible explanation for why such high levels of carbon dioxide would not cause the planet to warm.”

Scientists found that sea levels rose about 8 inches in the last century and that the rate in the last 20 years is almost double that of the last century. And it keeps getting worse. That means more people in island nations and along coastlines will become homeless and have to migrate just to survive.

A Feb. 6 National Geographic article by Alejandra Borunda reported, “The last five years — from 2014 to 2018 — are the warmest years ever recorded in the 139 years that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tracked global heat.”

The article, which I urge people to read, also contains a graph showing the drastic rise in land temperatures since 1880. Rising temperatures result in more severe and frequent storms that are costing lives and a lot of money.

The article states, “In 2018, NOAA says, there were 14 weather and climate events that cost the country hundreds of lives and $1 billion or more, for a total of at least 247 deaths and $91 billion in damages.” And that doesn’t include the damage from Hurricane Dorian and other 2019 storms.

How bad will it have to get before Congress acts? That depends on us. Contact your local and federal lawmakers and insist they act to combat global warming. Then, make sure you vote for a president and lawmakers who are not owned by the fossil fuel industries and lie for them by calling it a hoax.

Pat Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for more than 35 years. Contact her at patnash5149@gmail.com.

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