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Letter: Climate change challenges us to care about the future

Thanks so much for publishing the Associated Press article "Carbon dioxide levels in air rise past milestone" (June 4). It is a key event of human history that our fossil fuel burning habit has finally increased the amount of carbon dioxide in our sky by 50% over the pre-industrial level.

This is not about penguins. If we look around us, we can easily see the consequences to humans of the climate change that is driven by these emissions.

India has suffered an extreme heat wave over the past month that took many lives and drove the government to halt exports of wheat because concerns about hunger.

In California and New Mexico, extreme drought is now resulting in cuts to water access. Hampton Roads is now looking at a $40 billion price tag to deal with the sea level rise resulting from melting ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.

If we think that Roanoke is a safe place from climate change, we forget that climate change leaves no safe places.

Meanwhile we hear many voices in Western Virginia admitting that climate change is real, and that it might need solutions, but then the only solution suggested is to dig up more fossil fuels and burn them. Some of us may respond favorably to this illogic, but climate change will not. Is gasoline expensive?

Yes, and we can thank Vladimir Putin for that. The thing that Putin fears most is the human race abandoning the fossil fuels that fund his war machine. We would be wise to make Putin's nightmare become reality.

Climate change challenges us to care about others, and about our grandchildren. Today's pain does not require us to run toward a vanishing past — no, it requires us to run toward a future in which those grandchildren will have safety and survival. 

Chris Wiegard, Chester 

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