Editorial: Running From Climate Change


(Emily Stull)

For decades, scientists have been warning that the copious amounts of carbon dioxide pumped into Earth’s atmosphere by large corporations would eventually lead to extreme weather. Recent events have proved those estimates accurate. Floods that used to come once a century at most are becoming regular occurrences, the western United States is reaching record temperatures every passing summer while freezing weather is devastating areas without the infrastructure to combat it. Closer to home, record-setting wildfires are raging across California’s forests and rangelands which make up 80 percent of Californian land

We will likely begin to see these issues impact our own campus and the surrounding area, according to a 2018 Tam News feature on sea-level rise by former Editor-in-Chief Logan Little. “With 36 inches of [sea level rise], much of the southwestern end of Miller Avenue in front of the athletic fields would be flooded, cutting off the primary way to access Tam from Tam Valley,” Little wrote. “If annual storms resulted in water level temporarily rising even higher, Gus Gym, the front parking lot, and the boys’ locker room could be inundated by half an inch of water.” 

The ability of wealthy Marin residents to shield themselves from the effects of climate change has already been demonstrated in recent years with the rise in wildfires. Many have been able to retreat to their second homes in Tahoe during planned power outages, or to power refrigerators and electronic devices with the purchase of a generator, which can be expensive and hard to track down. More expensive homes are built to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and flooding. However, affordable housing developments are often built in areas susceptible to seawater flooding, such as in Marin City, an issue that will only worsen with rising sea levels. 

A large portion of residents also have support systems outside the Bay Area where they can receive assistance from extended family members in the form of food, shelter, and money. While it is wholly reasonable to retreat to a second home (who wouldn’t want electricity and wifi?) this highlights the broadening class divide in this apocalyptic era.

Additionally, the influx of unpredictable and extreme weather events may soon drive California residents out of state. Those with the means to leave the state will move to areas with less fire danger, while the residents who aren’t as economically advantaged will be trapped in increasingly hazardous areas and subjected to continued fires, floods, and heat waves. 

There is still hope. Although the most impactful change must occur at the political level, individuals, especially those in Marin with the resources to help others who are struggling, can still contribute. Those over the age of 18 have the sacred power of voting and can use that right to vote in the best interests of others who will be impacted by climate change to a much greater degree. Electing representatives who support climate change mitigation and forward-thinking solutions is a simple yet effective way to ensure government support for struggling individuals. Additionally, a renewed sense of human responsibility to each other will ease the pain of loss in the troubling times we have ahead of us. If you can, help your neighbors, help your friends, help strangers.