HERE’S a riddle: What do the Oklahoma dust bowl, smoke in Wenatchee, mold on Long Island and Washington’s oyster industry have in common?
And why would a doctor, like me, care?
The common link is climate change. We must act now to stop it.
Ken Burns’s PBS documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” recounts how reckless land management, combined with severe heat waves and drought during the 1930s, triggered a catastrophe — loss of soil, destruction of farms, displacement of people.
Record-breaking wildfires dominated the news last summer. Vast tracts of forest and grassland in central Washington and across the west were destroyed. People breathed higher levels of smoke than on the most polluted days in Beijing or Mexico City.
“Rockaway cough,” not to mention rashes, asthma, injuries and carbon-monoxide poisoning, are filling the emergency departments and relief centers of Long Island and New Jersey, as the victims of Superstorm Sandy endure numerous hazardous exposures in their efforts to clean up and rebuild.
And young oysters throughout the Pacific Northwest, confronted by more acid seawater, have been struggling to survive. Thousands of shellfish-industry jobs are threatened.