The time has come again for making spirits bright. Whether we’re singing Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad, the familiar cheer confirms the holiday season has arrived.
Yet amid the illumination and ornamented evergreens, an unsettling anticipation looms. It is the knowledge that some homes will one day be gone — that some neighborhoods may be doomed.
Okay, that’s not very merry and bright.
But given the climate disasters unfolding across the country, along with chilling warnings from US climate agencies, I have to ask: How many more years will I be able to say I’m going home for Christmas?
Already I won’t be able to visit my sister in Houston this year, where Hurricane Harvey left roads rotted and homes destroyed. And if the overwhelming scientific consensus is correct, my mother, grandparents, and cousins — dispersed throughout South Florida — may soon face a similar fate as sea levels rise.
As I mark my calendar for this year’s visit, I fear it will be one of my last. And millions of families across the nation are going through the same uncertainty.
Even if we set aside the not too unlikely possibility of devastating storms, anticipated sea level rise alone could destroy hundreds of thousands of homes, leaving millions of people displaced or worse.
The United States Global Change Research Program warns that due to the warming of our planet, sea levels will rise between 1 to 4 feet in the next 84 years. Presently, 150 million people worldwide live within 3.5 feet of the current sea level — and more than 6 million Americans live less than 5 feet above.
And to make bad news worse, our federal response is underfunded, overwhelmed, and adding fuel to the fire by pulling back preparations just as the calls for them to step up get louder.
The Trump administration’s positions are well known. In less than a year the White House has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, appointed a climate denier as head of the EPA, and failed to improve upon what legislation we do have that…