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Group Editorial: Readers share their take on climate change in the Poconos – Pocono Record

A few weeks ago, we asked you, our readers, if you thought climate change was having an impact on the Pocono Mountains region’s weather. Here’s how you responded. Interested in participating in our next prompt? Click here to learn more. 

More Group Editorials:Responding readers unanimously support ballot drop boxes

Readers sound off:On mandatory masking, vaccines in Pocono schools

Climate change usually takes Mother Nature a long time

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. “This immortal/timeless statement from a fictional Star Trek Movie, The Wrath of Khan, was made famous by the fictional Mr. Spock.

In 2021, It is bad enough that Americans cannot agree on the public health needs for inoculations of effective vaccinations in fighting America’s coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, Americans cannot even today reach a consensus on the “public safety needs” of our total society in the simple, passive act of wearing masks to prevent the spread against the deadly coronavirus which has affected millions of Americans and has caused the deaths of over 750,000 Americans.

A recent 2021 Pew Research Poll has fractured the American electorate into nine  distinct political subgroups— four each for the Democratic Party and Republican Party— and a separate ninth group consists of at least 15% of the public who are aptly named as “Stressed Sideliners” who have no party affiliation/orientation and may not take part in any federal, state or local elections! What a mess!

The Good News: In a recently released 2021 ABC/Washington Post Poll on how Americans view the present danger to Mother Earth from global warming, a clear majority of Americans (67%) view “global warming “as a “serious problem.” The Bad News: This is approximately the same basic percentage form the same poll conducted in 2014.

A politically divided nation in 2021 views global warming along partisan party lines.

This includes 90% Democratic voters, 73% independent voters and 47% of Republican voters who want the federal government to limit the release of greenhouses gases. Seven percent of those polled are “undecided.”

In the final analysis, a large overall percentage (70%) of all Americans polled in 2021 want the federal government to now to regulate the release of greenhouse gases.

Conclusion: In 2021, Americans are still divided along political party lines on the scientific topic of “Global Climate Change/Warming”— which may or may not end in the death of our planet Earth in 50,75, or 100 Years in the Future!

– Richard Weintraub writes a column for the Pocono Record. 

Can we adapt to a changing environment?

The Monroe County Conservation District observes the impacts of climate change within the county every day. Our calls to action take on many forms; sometimes it’s a call from a homeowner whose basement is filled with water, or a business who lost part of their property to a stream surge, or even a bridge that is failing due to an undersized culvert. What we hear remains the same: “We have never had this happen before! This area was never wet!”

Often, some folks have trouble making the connection between the changes in our local weather patterns and their larger connection with climate change. The data we track and review for our area tends to trend in favor of major increases in the duration, intensity, and frequency of storm events. As stewards of the Poconos, we must focus our attention on addressing these concerns and finding strategic solutions at the local level. The devastation caused by these more frequent and intense storm events will only get worse, as the issues with our aging infrastructure compound over time. It is up to all of us to ensure that we protect our natural resources and enact effective change. If we fail to adapt to our changing environment, we will all soon find ourselves in hot water. 

– Kristina Heaney, District Manager- Monroe County Conservation District

What causes climate change?

It is difficult for one person experiencing everyday weather to truly point out climate trends. Weather varies so much. It is the overall averages in the weather, not daily weather itself, which point to climate change.There would be catastrophe if the average global temperature rose 7 degrees Fahrenheit. If the Poconos got 7 degrees warmer today, that’s just another day.

The general trend in the Poconos of suffocatingly-humid summers, and stormy, unpredictable winters is alarming. I’ve always thought of the Poconos as a stable climate growing up, but I do not find it as stable nowadays. Weather events of the past year or so include: 1. Extreme flooding in Stroudsburg this summer due to two deluge storms separated by just barely a week. 2. More snow squalls in the past two years than I’ve seen before in my life. 3. The first fall frost is on average somewhere around September 30th in East Stroudsburg. In 2021, it was not until November 4th.

On their own, these local weather events could be written off as peculiarities. But the warmest five years on record (since recording began in 1850) have all been after 2015. Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and forest fires are all far more common nationwide. Indeed gathered together, these facts point to a changing climate. One might reasonably ask, “How could a warmer global climate create the incredibly snowy February we had last year?”

Truth be told, we will likely see more weather events like this. Just as wind originates when warming air pockets are filled with a rush of lower density air, excess heat in our atmosphere creates disturbances in our once fairly stable jet streams and weather patterns. The result is often violent, chaotic weather. Cold and warm anomalies both become more frequent.

Most of my neighbors now agree that the climate is indeed changing. The opinions now divide here: Is it caused by humans? Fossil fuels are so convenient and make us so rich, both personally and as a country, that we would very much rather not connect the dots science provides: Burning fossil fuels is vastly increasing global atmospheric carbon dioxide and Methane. These two gases in our atmosphere do trap heat from the sun very efficiently. The global average temperature is rising. In other words: Humans are in control of this crisis. We can fix it or we can make it worse.

– T. Buckley, Monroe County

Humans have altered the climate

Having lived in the Poconos for nearly 38 years, I definitely have noticed the difference from the mid 1980s.

It is my observation, that in general the seasons are pushed back about a month: April seems colder, and October is warmer. All seasons seem to be wetter in general and after some dry spells the rainfall amounts are greater. Summers are more humid in general due to the heavier rain. The mid Northeast usually averages about 40-50” of precipitation a year, this year we are already at 59 inches with 6 weeks to go. Through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s we never needed AC in the summer. The past two summers we have used portable units mostly to deal with the humidity.

Having Coached Track and Field at ESU for nearly 25 years, our Spring season has been a challenge to get consistently decent weather. It is difficult to hit qualifying standards for post season State and National Championships when battling cold, windy conditions.

I find it curious that many folks have short term memory about past years weather. Last Winter for example I heard many people remark about “all the snow we had”. We had an unusually snowy February, the 4th snowiest February on record. However, the Winter of 1994 we had nearly 140 inches of snow for the season. I shoveled nearly 30 inches of snow off our roof and some elderly neighbor’s roofs twice that season.

In mid-January 1994 we had a week of subzero temperatures and a state of emergency. The Electric Companies were using rolling 2- to 3-hour black outs in areas to protect the grid, and my son, a senior in HS, had graduation pushed back to the 3rd week of June due to all the snow days.

Witnessing the rising numbers of catastrophic storms, wildfires and longer heat waves it is pretty obvious that since the Industrial Revolution in 1850’s that humans have pretty much altered the climate in less than 200 years. Many say we must save our home planet. The Earth will survive and evolve. We need to act to save ourselves. More importantly we owe it to our grandchildren to collectively take personal responsibility to be mindful of and act to alter our fossil fuel-based lifestyle, utilizing science and innovation.

– Chris Merli, Swiftwater

The threat of climate change on our area is not trivial.  

We are very privileged to live in an area with remarkable natural resources and natural beauty.  Among these are the streams and creeks of the Brodhead Watershed.  Such is the nature of these unspoiled waterways that four U.S. Presidents have travelled here to fly fish in our streams, and to this day our streams are renowned for trout fishing. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has recognized several of our streams with their highest level of recognition and protection by designating them as “Exceptional Value”. 

There are many threats to the health and purity of our waterways. One of the most insidious and threatening is global climate change which threatens to warm the water by extending warm seasons and increasing average summer temperatures, as well as increasing the risk of both floods and drought conditions which can drastically alter the flow and course of these streams. 

As the temperature of our streams increase, even by only a few degrees, they become inhospitable to the fly larvae that fish depend on for food, as well as becoming hostile for hatching and development of fish eggs. 

In this way, small changes in temperature of our surface waterways can have a very large impact on the life which thrives in those streams, threatening the nature and natural beauty of our country home. 

The threat of impact of climate change on our area is not trivial. The northeastern US is among the fastest warming regions in the country due to climate change. Over the past several decades, autumn has grown longer, and spring has started sooner. 

“Polar vortexes” are now shorter, and warmer. In Dixon Miller State Forest, the average January temperature in 1993 was -14 degrees Fahrenheit. Christmas in 1980 was negative -15 degrees. This forest has not experienced a mean monthly temperature below 0 degrees in decades. For the past two years, temperatures have not even dropped below zero. Those bitter cold days and weeks were once crucial for slowing down the spread of Deer Ticks as well as to stop invasive species like the Wooly Adelgid, and the Spotted Lanternfly. Consistent cold helps maintain a healthy snowpack. 

The snowpack insulates the soil, protecting our sensitive native Sugar Maple and native insects from the harshest winter cold snaps. 

If we are going to protect our natural beauty and environmental resources, taking aggressive steps to mitigate climate change is essential as the changes of greenhouse gas emission on our country home are already apparent. Further changes will develop and accelerate until the environment and our waterways are no longer the wonderful country streams and creeks that we live alongside today. The time to act is nearly past, and further procrastination or inaction can have drastic effects on our home, as well as our planet. 

We strongly encourage our neighbors to join with us in taking all possible steps to help protect our environment, our natural resources and our country home from potentially catastrophic damage. 

Michael Stein, MD, FACC and Alexander Jackson, PhD, are President, Board of Directors and Executive Director, respectively, of the Brodhead Watershed Association 

Solar, wind power not dependable alternate sources of energy

Climate change is real and the Poconos will experience the effects of global warming.

But our sense of global warming will be slight for this generation. Succeeding generations will experience more and more the effects of the warming of the Earth. 

The indicator and culprit for global warming is the heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere. A way to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide is by the ice core samples of Antarctica. From the Antarctic, we have the deepest and most continuous ice core samples and they constitute a yearly recording of carbon dioxide that is trapped in the snowfall, layer after layer. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains these ice core samples and can measure the carbon dioxide in the ice. The deepest ice core preserved by the USGS is over two miles long from the Antarctic ice sheet and measurements of carbon dioxide can be extracted as far back as well over 200,000 years ago.

This ice core data is the “canary-in-the-coal mine.” Emissions from since the beginning of the worldwide Industrial Age are alarming, as revealed by the carbon dioxide in the ice. For well over 200,000 years the fluctuating carbon dioxide levels are consistent until our present time. Presently, the atmospheric heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels shoot straight up to stark new levels. Hence, the predicted warming of the Earth resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

Beyond the science of ice core samples, climate change becomes very political. Democrats are more in favor of green energy; solar and wind.

Republicans believe fossil fuels should not lose out to green energy. Neither political party outright rejects climate change.

Democrats just place more importance on slowing down the warming of our planet. The problem is: Relying on solar and wind energy may not be feasible sources to power the Earth.

Sustained sunshine and constant wind power are not dependable on a daily basis.

Fossil fuels are a reliable source of energy, until all the coal, oil and natural gas run out. There are predictions by scientists on the rate of global warming. But where are the predictions of when the fossil fuels run out? 

All in all, the Poconos will be safe from rising waters even if all the worldwide ice melted. The Delaware River will still flow alongside the Poconos on the way to the new Atlantic Ocean.

– Dan Pryor, Belvidere, NJ 

Should you choose to accept it, our next prompt is: Should replica and airsoft gun manufacturers go to greater lengths to make their guns look different from the real thing? Would it make a difference? 

Participants should email submissions, between 200 and 400 words, to Managing Editor Ashley Fontones at afontones@poconorecord.com. Submissions get an edit for grammar and AP style. The deadline to submit for our next Group Editorial is noon on Tuesday, Nov. 30, to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday. 

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