Letter: In Response to ‘Laguna’s Sea Stars and a Warming Pacific’

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We are all sea stars. We are all canaries. In the grand scheme of life on a warming Earth, there is precious little difference between sea stars, canaries and humans. Hundreds of millions, even billions, of humans will soon be facing their own versions of sea stars’ “withering disease,” commonly known as famine, heat death, drowning, etc. This is not alarmist, unless you consider it “alarmist” to dial 9-1-1 when you discover your house is on fire. “Dying Oceans” is only one of a dozen “elements of chaos” described in detail in the 2019 book by David Wallace-Wells, entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth.” (As one example, he cites a World Resources Institute estimate that just 11 years from now, the combination of ocean warming and acidification will threaten 90 percent of all the ocean coral reefs, which currently support as much as 25 percent of all marine life. Let that sink in.) Usually a request for a single “wake-up call” at a hotel will suffice. With global warming, we need a wake-up call every 15 seconds, 24/7, until Tom Osborne’s excellent article, and the many thousands like it, sink into the grassroots and saturate the population with enough concern to demand that release of additional carbon into the atmosphere is reduced to a fraction of its current rate. These demands will certainly include carbon pricing as one major aspect, since economic pressure is a proven lever to alter behavior, and the carbon-neutral and carbon-negative innovation that will result from the effects of H.R. 763, which Mr. Osborne mentioned, is crucial now, not 10 or 20 years from now. So are the other measures Mr. Osborne mentioned, as well as many others. We have to start re-thinking virtually everything we now take for granted. (When I read the phrase “underground parking” for Laguna Beach, I see “underwater parking.”) The decades of denialism financed by the fossil fuel industry (read “The Merchants of Doubt,” if you have any doubt) have taken their toll—the time for delay on this is long since gone.

Gary Stewart, Laguna Beach

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