Fire, fire everywhere

The fires that have been burning out of control this past week in Texas and Oklahoma — and which are continuing to rage as this is being written — are yet another harbinger of what awaits us thanks to the ever-increasing rate of climate change that is affecting every corner of the earth.
The fires in Texas, which have killed two persons, destroyed 500 homes, and caused entire towns to be evacuated, come on the heels of the recent fires in Chile, which destroyed entire communities and claimed 131 lives, more than the tragic fire a few months back that occurred in Hawaii.
Fire in other parts of the globe in recent years have charred millions of acres of land and wiped out entire communities, from Australia, to California, to Canada, and the Siberian tundra.
The out-of-control wildfire fires not only have caused loss of life and brought economic devastation to communities and individuals, but they also have sent acrid smoke that enveloped large swathes of neighboring countries, as happened in the Midwest and East Coast last summer when the fires in eastern Canada raised our air quality to extremely unhealthy levels for days at a time.
But these fires are only part of the equation of climate change. Ocean temperatures reached record highs this year, threatening coral reefs and marine life across the globe. What had seemed as inconceivable — that the world’s oceans could turn into dead zones — no longer is in the realm of science fiction. It’s a reality that could occur within a few short years.
In addition, with the hot oceans providing the fuel for tropical storms, hurricanes promise to be ever-stronger and more devastating.
Air temperatures have set records month-after-month and year-after-year for the past five years, with each successive year exceeding the one before. The record warmth in the continental U.S. this winter has resulted in the least snow cover on record and has prevented the usual lakes from freezing. Glaciers are disappearing everywhere, from the polar regions, to Greenland, to the Alps in Europe.
In short, everything that is climate related is off-the-charts — and not in a good way. If what climate scientists tell us is true — that we are in a race against time to change our ways and that we must stop burning fossil fuels in order to save the environment as we know it — then it is becoming increasingly clear that our feet are stuck in the mud.

Please: No public drinking on St. Patrick’s Day

With the St. Patrick’s Day holiday and traditional South Boston parade approaching on Sunday, March 17, we urge our public safety officials to plan for enforcing the laws which prohibit drinking in public, especially by underage drinkers.
Last year in the aftermath of the South Boston parade, we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of riding the Red Line to the South Shore. The trains were packed with highly-inebriated, rowdy, under-age drinkers who were drinking openly on the trains and then flinging their empties around the train cars, striking other passengers. The platforms resembled war zones, with large-scale fights and scores of youths who were passed out left-and-right.
We realize that everyone wants to relax and have a good time on St. Patrick’s Day, but that is no excuse for our public safety officials to turn a blind eye to underage drinking and drinking in public. In addition, for those of us of Irish descent, the perception that being “Irish for a day” means drinking heavily is highly-insulting.

It is inevitable that with the high degree of public intoxication that is tacitly permitted by our public safety officials, there will be a tragedy. We urge our public officials to take steps ahead of time to stop this annual reign of dangerous mass chaos.

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