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by Karl Reitz, Ph.D.

The summer of 2020 is almost over, and it has not been kind. Over a single weekend, we saw the start of hundreds of wildfires, two of which are among the biggest fires that California has ever witnessed. Another fire wiped out the park headquarters of the oldest and my favorite state park, Big Basin. These fires have caused some of the worst air pollution that California has ever seen.

A few weeks before, the hottest temperature ever on the surface of the Earth was recorded in Death Valley at 130° F. The month of July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. More of the Greenland ice sheet melted this summer than ever before. A recent study suggests that it will melt at an increasing amount over the coming years. If it melts completely, the sea will rise 30 feet.

The news of these events has been eclipsed by the ongoing pandemic, which has already caused over 180,000 deaths in the US alone. This disaster, however, will be dwarfed by the ecological disaster posed by climate change. Unlike the pandemic, climate change is entirely caused by human action. Conservative projections estimate three feet of sea-level rise by 2050. That amount of sea-level rise puts virtually all of San Clemente and Dana Point beaches, including Doheny State Beach, underwater at high tide, with increased erosion and all houses along the beach at risk.

As with the pandemic, climate change can be slowed by taking action. Citizens Climate Education is a grassroots, non-partisan organization dedicated to combating climate change via personal, local and global action. The local chapter invites you to join us in this important work at our monthly meetings listed in the Community Calendar.

Karl Reitz is a member of Citizens Climate Education.

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