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Peter Getty is a philanthropist and contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. His work and writings revolve around environmental issues. Getty's philanthropic initiatives, as well as the organizations he supports, are committed to protecting the environment and spreading environmental awareness.

Hope Melts for Action on Climate Change

peter getty global warmingAnyone hoping for international cooperation on reducing carbon emissions to prevent further global warming ought to be disappointed this week. After two weeks of meetings in Bonn on climate change, presented with more scientific information about the potential nightmare scenarios we could face without action, no real progress was made.

Delegates were told that polar ice melting is irreversible. Underdeveloped countries are facing extreme flooding or droughts. Mass emergency migration looks likely one day. We are racing toward a record temperature of 3.6 degrees above pre-industrial times.

Yet the 195 countries aren’t quite ready to make pledges to reduce carbon emissions, as was the intention of the 2015 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Not reaching a deal has other direct repercussions. The deal would provide financial support to vulnerable countries to prepare for rising ocean levels, and provide a jump start on clean technology for countries that don’t have the capital to make the switch from fossil fuels.

Last week it was announced that scientists have concluded that a huge section of Antarctica’s ice sheet will completely melt within the next few centuries. This will cause an even greater rise in sea levels than previously expected. Other glaciers around the world may also melt more than we’d thought. We may have reached a point of no return on that front. What does that mean in our lifetimes? Bangladesh may see up to 35m residents undergo forced relocation, amidst a massive loss of rice crops for the region. Cities like Calcutta, Mumbai, and Minh City may also experience massive changes by 2050.

Floridians should also be concerned about flooding, in addition to what appears to be a rising number of tropical storms. Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana, Texas – climate change could directly effect 40 million Americans in our lifetime. The devastation could ironically displace much of Washington, DC, where Republicans are leading the charge in heeding deniers of science.

David Brat’s recent upset of incumbent GOP leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary isn’t likely to improve the situation on the hill. Rich nations don’t need to fear climate change, according to Brat. His constituents agree – over 40% of Tea Partiers think global warming simply isn’t happening. Seemingly no Republicans in DC are doing anything to change that. Jon Huntsman was a rare exception, taking the brave stance of stating his support of even the notion of climate change when seeking the Republican nomination for president. Behind closed doors, many Republicans concur with Huntsman.

It is increasingly important that we band together and express our collective support to show our leaders how important this issue is to us. We are not powerless, and with some action, we may be able to slow the acceleration, buying us some time to prepare for more and more extreme weather. Broadening the power of the EPA is common sense in light of what we’re up against. There’s no sense in accepting denial any longer. The future is in sight, and the time to act is now.

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