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Climate control urgency of today

Addressing what he saw as the defining issues of his time, Martin Luther King’s words seemed strikingly applicable to those of today.
His somber, passionate speeches, in New York in April 1967 and in Memphis a year later could be heard on Democracy.
And now on Martin Luther King day.
They dealt with the war then ongoing, the “hell” of death and destruction it wreaked on American troops and the people of Vietnam.
Among its other outcomes were the smashed hopes of the poor of America, King said, whose chances of betterment were lost as the country’s resources were being drained for the war.
He felt himself giving a “voice to the voiceless” in demanding an end to the war, to war-waging “as a means of settling differences,” and a restructuring of social values toward peaceful ends and programs to meet human needs.
He felt the need for action to be great and the time window short.
His words: “We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are faced with the fierce urgency of now.”
The central issue for our generation is that of securing for the voiceless people after us a planet still fit for life, in light of climate destabilization caused by the heat-trapping gases we deposit in the earth’s atmosphere.
The urgency of addressing the issue is clear.
The year behind us brought pictures from around the world again, of raging waters killing thousands and displacing millions.
Pictures of dramatic rooftop rescues where homes were being washed away in landslides, of searing heat and drought-devastating crops.
In addition, there were forest fires on such scale as to cost $15 billion in one country (Russia) alone.
We saw bridges being washed from their foundations and canoes paddling on city streets (Nashville) and torrential floods, likewise, in California, Australia, Columbia, China, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
Higher than 100-degree temperatures plagued northeastern cities while heat-warmed streams forced power-production slowdowns by utilities (TVA).
King felt himself speaking “as a citizen of the world.” Today, one might surmise him to urge rapid climate-healing action to help avert such tragedies of lives and livelihoods lost through “extreme-weather events.”
These would become more frequent and widespread, if not “normal” in a warming world, the climate scientists had warned for more than two decades.
On Jan. 12, NASA reported that 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record, 1998 being the next warmest year.
With findings of high global-average temperatures in five previous years since the turn of the century, this also was the hottest decade on record.
“The world stands aghast at the path we have taken,” King might say again, also, referring to our country’s refusal of participation in international climate-treaty efforts during the last decade and failure, by the Senate last year to let climate-healing measures be passed into national law.
One must keep up hope for swift action because, as King would say, “There is such a thing as being too late.”