Saving the Planet, One Rehoboth at a Time
On February 18, Dr. Wallace Smith Broecker died in New York City. He was 87. His death, while widely reported, didn’t cause a break in the typical news cycle that day. The guess here is that most people outside of scientific circles don’t know the name. But Dr. Broecker’s work was never more important than it is today. Wallace Broecker is known by many in the sciences as the “Grandfather of Climate Science.”
Dr. Broecker brought the term “global warming” into common use with a 1975 article that correctly predicted that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to pronounced warming. In Dr. Broecker’s obituary in USA Today, Penn State professor Michael Mann was quoted as saying “Broecker helped communicate to the public and policymakers the potential for abrupt climate changes and unwelcome ‘surprises’ as a result of climate change.”
In 1984, Broecker told a House subcommittee that the buildup of greenhouse gases warranted a “…bold, new national effort aimed at understanding the operation of the realms of the atmosphere, oceans, ice, and terrestrial biosphere.”
Covering the world debate between climate change “deniers” and those that take a more visionary view of the climate change threat would take far more space than is available here. Taking a more local perspective might shed a light on why Delawareans should care about that debate.
According to the Delaware Division of Climate, Coastal, and Energy, change is already affecting Delaware. Over the coming years, we can anticipate more days of dangerously high heat, heavier precipitation, and sea level rise that leads to significant flooding. As Dr. Broecker was quoted in his New York Times obituary, “We’re playing with an angry beast.”
Much of Delaware’s history is connected to its long coastline. As such, Delaware is particularly vulnerable to the effects of future rising sea levels. Imagine Rehoboth without a beloved boardwalk; Lewes without a captivating Cape Henlopen. Perhaps not in our lifetime. But isn’t our Rehoboth, our county, our state, worth saving for future generations?
State agencies and local governments in Delaware are working together to respond to climate change. You can help as well. The combined impact of many individual efforts can be a vital contributor to the environmental battle. Here are just a few ideas from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC):
Use less energy at home, such as switching to energy efficient LED lightbulbs, which come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. These bulbs only cost $1-2 per year to light and will last 10 years.
Weatherize your home, such as sealing cracks and gaps that may leak air and cause drafts. See if you qualify for Delaware’s free Weatherization Assistance Program.
Make energy-smart travel choices, such as exploring Delaware’s state parks and great attractions locally instead of flying far away for vacation. Commercial flights are a large source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Adopt simple everyday habits, such as minimizing food waste in your kitchen. Food waste is a significant source of greenhouse gases.
Take action in your community by being an active part of local boards and committees, and attending public meetings. Many important land use and environmental decisions are made at the local level.
DNREC envisions a Delaware that offers a healthy environment where people embrace a commitment to the protection, enhancement, and enjoyment of the environment in their daily lives. It can be done.
Global warming is real. Perhaps the greatest way that you as a citizen can help create long-term ways to address climate change is at the ballot box. Delaware works hard to be a green state, but climate change is a world-wide problem. Your vote can effect change through local politics and up through the highest levels of government.
Take action wherever and whenever you can. Dr. Broecker, the “Grandfather of Climate Science,” surely would be pleased. ▼
Some Delaware Environmental Organizations
Clean Air Council
Delaware Association for Environmental Education
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays
Delaware Native Plant Society
Delaware Nature Society
Delaware Wild Lands
Nature Conservancy—Delaware Chapter
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Sierra Club—Delaware Chapter
Sussex County Land Trust