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Climate Change Enters a New Era: Now We’re Living It

Opinion

On a global scale, 2018 is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The only years hotter were the past three. In fact, 17 of the past 18 years have been the warmest since 2001.

We cannot consider this just a hot year. This is a trend. The planet is getting hotter and will become even hotter in years to come. This will not only cause problems relating to higher temperatures, but cause other extreme weather-related events including droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornados and other storms. Scientists are even predicting that some winters will even be more severe, so it is not just about warming, but climate change.

Here are some heat-related situations around the globe that may have received only moderate press in North America:

•   In Europe, nuclear power plants have been shut down because the river water that cools the plants is too warm to use.
•   Heat has resulted in more than a dozen deaths in Japan.
•   Twenty-nine deaths in South Korea have been attributed to record high temperatures over 104 degrees (F).
•   The UK is having its driest year in 57 years.
•   Norway, Sweden, and Finland are suffering from major wildfires. Wildfires are not that common there. Again, this is blamed on record high heat.

And we can’t ignore what is happening here at home. The massive fire in California is now the largest in the state’s history. I’m sure it is related to the fact that parts of Southern California are experiencing record-breaking temperatures over 115 degrees (F).

I am aware that attributing climate change to “human-made” greenhouse gas emissions is controversial in some industry sectors. However, more than 97% of scientists around the world along with the National Academy of Science all believe that gas emissions are the culprit. (Check out their video here.)

What I’m most worried about is how this is going to impact food, water, energy supplies around the world, and the problems we are causing for our children and future generations. We are no longer studying climate change – we are beginning to live it.

While the cleaning industry is not the major contributor to climate change, there are things we can do that reduce negative impacts on the environment and save money. For example, suppliers including distributors and manufacturers should track and report their sustainability efforts; and purchasers including schools and hospitals should buy their green products from green companies – those trying to “walk the talk.”  Today this is easy, and EPA provides a simple tool that both suppliers and purchasers can use.

By Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group

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