Rutgers professor explains ‘new normal’ of climate change
Environmental conservation – in the words of a Rutgers’ professor – is about “learning to adapt and becoming more resilient.”
That was the big takeaway for Dr. David Robinson from a recent presentation on the ever-changing climate of the “new normal”: flash floods, tornado warnings, air quality alerts, and heat waves.
The presentation came during the Tri-County Sustainability Alliance’s virtual meeting on July 26. The alliance is a Sustainable Jersey hub in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties that helps provide local green teams with support and programs to educate residents.
“This is all about understanding,” explained Robinson, a state climatologist. “If we can all get on the same page in understanding the climate system, what’s changing and why it’s changing, then we can start joining forces at large to talk about mitigation efforts or becoming more resilient.”
Summer has brought with it a number of climate-related disasters around the world. Local air quality reached toxic levels because of ongoing Canadian wildfires. Massive mudslides in Austria claimed at least one life. Hurricane Dora winds have contributed to a deadly wildfire on the island of Maui in Hawaii that – as of deadline – killed more than 50 people.
“We’re not going to be able to mitigate ourselves fully out of this,” Robinson acknowledged. “I’ve been saying that for 30 plus years in my classes. We’re going to have to learn to adapt and become more resilient.
“The more we can mitigate, the less we have to adapt.”
New Jersey recorded the 10th hottest July on record with an average temperature of 77.2 degrees. Of the 11 warmest months of July in state history, nine have happened since 2010.
“We’re going to see temperatures continue to rise,” Robinson pointed out. “There’s no question about that. If we stopped emitting greenhouse gasses today, it would still keep rising, because of all of that heat stored up in the oceans.”
This year has also brought with it an increase in recorded tornadoes in the Garden State, though Robinson said the numbers tend to fluctuate over time with New Jersey’s varied weather and climate. But it’s worth noting that stronger weather patterns contribute to the possibility of more tornadoes, according to the professor.
The main message of the presentation was that both awareness and future action should be goals for a healthier planet.
“We’re all in this together,” Robinson said. “We need leadership in all levels of society to come together.”