Climate change can seem like a distant problem. Sure, temperatures are rising here and there and we’re seeing evidence that it’s responsible for intensifying natural disasters, but how does it really affect us personally?
Dahr Jamail discovered a way that it affects him, and that discovery led him to want to learn even more about the phenomenon. Jamail, a former Houstonian, is a journalist, a former war correspondent and the author of the book “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.”
Jamail moved to Alaska in 1996 to pursue his interest mountaineering. During that time, he says he saw the effects of climate change all around him: “From glaciers that were receding dramatically on an annual basis, to very, very wild and disrupted weather patterns.”
Among those weather patterns was a lake of snow in Anchorage at Christmastime.
When he later became a journalist, Jamail says he recognized that climate change was the big story he wanted to cover.
“This is something that affects all of our lives, whether it’s where we live, the food we eat, the cost of living and things like this,” he says. “It captivated my attention, and I decided that I wanted to dive into it deeply.”
Even in Texas, where changes in the size of glaciers or snowfall rates aren’t a fact of life, Jamail says climate change still has an impact.
“Maybe some place like Amarillo is going to see increasing long droughts of greater severity,” he says.
More severe weather, greater temperature swings and higher rates of rainfall are among the effects of climate change seen around the world, Jamail says. But the impact of climate change goes beyond new weather patterns. That’s because countries that experience droughts, for example, also see increased food prices and social unrest, as people seek relief from their governments.
Jamail says rather than countries helping to slow the progress of climate change, they are simply adjusting to it.
“I think we are already locked into a paradigm of adaptation rather than mitigation,” Jamail says. “For example, the oceans have absorbed 93% of all the heat we’ve added to the atmosphere – half of that since just 1997. You’re not going to get that heat out of the oceans.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.