July 04--On this Independence Day, many Americans will visit Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, behind which stands a large statue of patriot Samuel Adams. Arms folded, grim-faced, Adams is portrayed as demanding that British troops be removed from the city after the Boston Massacre in 1770.
Thousands of others will visit the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the very embodiment of American freedom.
But how many of these visitors will be aware that Faneuil Hall, Liberty Island, and more than two dozen other national landmarks are at risk because of climate change?
According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, "many of the country's most iconic and historic sites" are in danger because of rising seas, violent weather, more frequent wildfires and other effects of global warming.
Action is needed now, both to better protect these sites and to combat the root cause of the problem: carbon emissions.
The issue is not some far-off matter for future generations to worry about; it is here and now.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy inundated most of Liberty Island and nearly all of Ellis Island, the entry point for millions of freedom-seeking immigrants to the United States. The statue was closed for eight months while repairs were made to electrical and security equipment and other infrastructure. Ellis Island was shut for a year.
Much of historic Jamestown, Va., which calls itself "America's birthplace," is now less than five feet above water; it is threatened by storm surges and by water that is rising at twice the global average. National sites in California and other Western states are threatened by more frequent wildfires.
At some, but not all of these cherished landmarks, work has begun to protect against floods and other natural disasters.
But ultimately, the way to save these sites is to work even harder to reduce carbon emissions, thought by almost all scientists to be the major factor behind climate change.
There are, of course, naysayers -- those who think global warming is a hoax, or a myth, or a misreading of the data.
Samuel Adams would understand. When he stood up for independence, there were scoffers too.
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