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On Zoom screen, clockwise from top left, Committee member Hoi-Chung Leung; Committee Member Matthew Lerner; Eve Rosen; Committee Member Nicholas Eaton; Tamara Rosen; graduate student Cara Keifer; and Shira Yudkoff.

By Daniel Dunaief

On April 17, Tamara Rosen did something she had been anticipating for six years: she defended her graduate thesis.

Working in the lab of Matthew Lerner, who is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, Rosen had focused her efforts on the symptoms people with autism exhibit when they are anxious or depressed.

While the questions in her graduate thesis defense followed a pattern she anticipated, with professors asking her about the way she compiled her data and the conclusions she drew, the format wasn’t what she had expected.

Like so many other gatherings that had formerly been public events, Rosen’s thesis defense was broadcast by Zoom. The downside was that she wasn’t in the room with everyone, where she could have a discussion one on one. The upside was that her friends and family could tune in as easily as they do to work calls or other family gatherings. Indeed, Rosen’s mother, Marna; her step-mother Eve; and her father Dennis, all of whom share an appreciation for the work Tammy did for her thesis, watched the defense from start to finish, exulting in a landmark achievement.

“This was a really important day in our family’s history,” Dennis Rosen told his daughter, sharing the pride he felt for her.

“I always knew you were smart, but now I know you are brilliant,” her mother beamed.

After the call, Rosen saw her mother and stepmother overwhelmed with emotions, shedding tears for an achievement she sometimes needs to reassure herself really happened.

Rosen’s work focused on how anxiety and depression, two conditions that mental health professionals are concerned are becoming more prevalent amid the viral pandemic, have different symptoms in the population of people with autism spectrum disorder than they do for those who are not on the spectrum.

Based on prior research, Rosen wanted to account for the different symptoms in her follow-up analysis.

Prior studies have found that the traditional models of anxiety and depression do not adequately fit youth with autism. Others had suggested, but not tested, the notion that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual model of these symptoms provides an ineffective model of anxiety and/or depression symptoms because of the influence of autism symptoms.

That is why Rosen specifically examined the influence of autism on these conditions in one of her analyses.

Among other findings, Rosen said that autism influences anxiety and depression. The prevalence of anxiety and depression is higher compared to the general population.

There are a range of clinical implications for her work, Rosen said.

Her work validates what clinicians are doing, which is to take the profile of autism into account when they treat anxiety.

Rosen moved to Colorado last July to start her internship year at JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where she is also starting her post-doctoral clinical fellowship. She is treating clients with autism and anxiety and depression, which she said is in her “wheel house” of expertise.

Rosen is grateful for the support she received from Lerner and the program at Stony Brook. “It was great training,” she said.

Matthew Lerner. Photo from SBU

By Daniel Dunaief

Though hampered by the pandemic in their direct contact with people who have autism, the founder of The Autism Initiative and research director Matthew Lerner along with the Head of Autism Clinical Education Jennifer Keluskar at Stony Brook University are managing to continue to reach out to members of the community through remote efforts. In a two-part series, Times Beacon Record News Media will feature Lerner’s efforts this week and Keluskar’s work next week.

Through several approaches, including improvisational theater, Matthew Lerner works with people who are on and off the autism spectrum on ways to improve social competence, including by being flexible in their approach to life.

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, he has had to apply the same approach to his own work.

Lerner, who is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, recognizes that it’s difficult to continue a project called SENSE ® Theatre (for Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology), where the whole function of the process is to provide in-person social intervention.

The SENSE Theater study is a multisite National Institute of Mental Health-funded project focused on assessing and improving interventions to improve social competence among adolescents with autism. The core involves in person intervention through group social interaction.

Matthew Lerner with his sons Everett,6, and Sawyer,2. Photo by Chelsea Finn

That, however, is not where the effort ends.“There are arms of that study that are more educational and didactic,” Lerner said. “We’re starting to think about how we could capitalize on that.”

In the ongoing SENSE effort, Lerner is coordinating with Vanderbilt University, which is the lead site for the study, and the University of Alabama.

Stony Brook is in active contact with the families who are participating in that effort, making sure they know “we are doing our best to get things up and running as quickly as possible,” Lerner said.

The staff is reaching out to local school districts as well, including the Three Village School District, with whom Lerner is collaborating on the project, to ensure that people know the effort will restart as soon as it’s “safe to be together again.”

Lerner is also the founder and Research Director of The Autism Initiative at SBU, which launched last year before the pandemic altered the possibilities for in-person contact and forced many people to remain at or close to home for much of the time. The initiative provides programs and services for the community to support research, social and recreational activities and other therapeutic efforts.

The Stony Brook effort initially involved video game nights, adult socials and book clubs. The organizers and participants in the initiative, however, have “stepped up in a huge way and have created, in a couple of weeks, an entirely new set of programming,” Lerner said.

This includes a homework support club, guidance, webinars and support from clinicians for parents, which address fundamental questions about how to support and adapt programs for people with autism. The group is keeping the book club active. The initiative at least doubled if not tripled the number of offerings, Lerner suggested.

Additionally, SBU has two grants to study a single session intervention adapted for teens with autism. The project has been running for about nine months. Lerner said they are looking to adapt it for online applications. For many families, such remote therapy would be a “real boon to have access to free treatment remotely,” he said.

Lerner had been preparing to conduct a study of social connections versus loneliness in teens or young adults with autism. Since COVID-19 hit, “we have reformulated that and are just about to launch” a longitudinal a study that explores the effects of the lockdown on well-being and stress for people who have autism and their families.

Lerner is looking at how the pandemic has enhanced the importance of resilience. He said these kinds of studies can perhaps “give us some insight when we return to something like normalcy about how to best help and support” people in the autism community. “We can learn” from the stresses for the community of people with autism during the pandemic.

To be sure, the pandemic and the lockdown through New York Pause that followed hasn’t affected the entire community of people with autism the same way. Indeed, for some people, the new norms are more consistent with their behavioral patterns.  “Some autistic teens and young adults have said things to me like, ‘I was social distancing before it was cool,’” Lerner said.

Another teenager Lerner interacted with regularly went to the bathroom several times to wash his hands. When Lerner checked in on him to see how he was doing amid the pandemic, he said, “I was made for this.”

Lerner also said people who aren’t on the spectrum may also gain greater empathy through the changes and challenges of their new routines. People find the zoom calls that involve looking at boxes of people on a full screen exhausting. After hours of shifting our attention from one box to another, some people develop “zoom fatigue.”

Lerner said someone with autism noted that this experience “may be giving the rest of us a taste of what it’s like for folks on the spectrum,” which could provide insights “we might not otherwise have.”

Even though some people with autism may feel like the rest of the world is mirroring their behavioral patterns, many people in and outside the autism community have struggled with the stresses of the public health crisis and with the interruption in the familiar structure of life.

The loss of that structure for many with autism is “really profound,” which is the much more frequent response, Lerner said. “More kids are telling us they are stressed out, while parents are saying the same thing.” In some sense, the crisis has revealed the urgency of work in the mental health field for people who are on and off the spectrum, Lerner said.

The studies in autism and other mental health fields that come out of an analysis of the challenges people face and the possible mental health solutions will likely include the equivalent of an asterisk, to capture a modern reality that differs so markedly from conditions prior to the pandemic. There may be a new reporting requirement in which researchers break down their studies by gender, age, race, ethnicity, income and “another variable we put in there: recruited during social isolation.”

News12 reporter Kevin Vesey is confronted by protesters at a rally in Commack on May 14. Photo by Rita J. Egan

At a recent rally, protesters of the lockdown asked why a reporter’s job was deemed essential when theirs weren’t. The question is a fair one, even though the way it was posed at a May 14 rally in Commack had reporters fearing for their safety.

Dissatisfied with the way News 12 Long Island’s Kevin Vesey reported a previous rally that took place May 1, protesters began to approach him aggressively as he took video footage with his smartphone for Facebook Live, which quickly went viral over the internet. First, there were two women with megaphones and then a few others joined in the shouting match. Vesey’s response was to keep backing up as he answered them calmly and continued recording.

One of our editors was also reporting on the scene and was on hand for the confrontation, moving in closer to hear the protesters’ concerns. It was concerning the way the small crowd questioned “who was essential” with such anger. With distrust in the media growing for years, exacerbated by constant “fake news” remarks, there seems to be less and less places safe enough for local reporters to simply report the news. 

If our reporter could have answered the question posed by the angry protesters and interrupted Vesey’s replies, she would have told them that if the media wasn’t deemed essential during this time, elected officials would only communicate with the public if they felt like it. They could put out whatever information they wanted to without being challenged.

President Donald Trump (R) did not calm the situation when he took the viral video of Vesey being confronted and lauded the small band of protesters, giving them and others the green light to their anti-free press rhetoric and intimidation. What should happen if Trump’s words result in violence toward journalists? 

What if that violence was directed at one of our members at our local newspaper? 

If we weren’t deemed essential, there would be no one there to ask the questions that are on people’s minds. You see, journalists are not creative writers. We don’t decide what we want to write every day and then make it up as we go along. We attend press conferences, we conduct interviews, we research — and we ask the questions that we believe are on our readers’ minds.

And when those in our coverage area have something to say, we print their letters to the editors, and we cover their events and rallies as best as we can. We do everything in our power to get the facts straight and to represent both sides of an issue if people on each side are willing to talk.

The Setauket Patriots, one of the organizers of the protests, apologized to Vesey for his treatment, saying they hope the reporter will offer fair coverage of the group’s events.

That is what reporters set out to do. Though we are forced to recognize we are human, and sometimes we make mistakes, a rally in Commack, New York, is not a place for such tense conflict. No reporters on such a scene should be fearful for their safety. We are there to relate what is on protesters’ minds in their own words.

While it’s understandable that people are in distress about their livelihoods, Vesey should have been approached in a less aggressive manner and with respect to personal space, especially when he obviously tried to respect the health of the people around him by wearing a mask and trying to keep 6 feet away.

Americans ask that the media be fair; we ask the same of Americans.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The weapons and uniforms are different, but the goals are the same: to protect the interests of Americans everywhere and to save lives.

Every year, Memorial Day presents an opportunity to honor the men and women who served our country in the military, as we appreciate their courage and sacrifice during battles against a range of enemies.

This year, we have a large group of people who are laying their lives on the line for the benefit of society. They are the first responders, who arrive at the homes of people stricken with symptoms of a disease that can make breathing difficult, that can give them a fever for days or even weeks.

They are the nurses who not only take the pulse and blood pressure of their patients, but also provide a human connection when those with the virus can’t have friends and family visit.

They are the doctors who use the best medicine at their disposal to provide comfort until a new standard of care is developed or a vaccine is created.

They are also the police and fire rescue teams that set aside their personal concerns about interacting with members of the community who might be sick to help strangers and the family members of those strangers.

Without these health care workers prepared to help in the struggle against a virus that never takes a weekend off or for which chicken soup, sleep or a hot shower are inadequate to ameliorate the symptoms, Long Islanders would be struggling on their own, infecting each other, and dying at even higher levels.

At the same time, people who work in other fields have been vital to the ongoing functioning of our society in the midst of the pandemic. The people who deliver packages and the mail have connected us to an outside world we can’t visit. They travel through our neighborhoods, wearing gloves and masks and bringing everything from Mother’s Day cards for the mothers and grandmothers we dare not visit lest we are an unsuspecting carrier of the deadly disease, to the paperwork we need to sign.

Those who work in grocery stores stock the shelves with the necessities and luxuries we snap up every week, as we continue to feed families huddled in our homes. Bus drivers and transit workers enable first responders, grocery store clerks, and others to get to and from their jobs.

In addition to accepting their normal responsibilities, these people also go to their jobs in a new normal that requires many of them to wash their clothing and shower before they interact with their family, which some of them only do while wearing masks.

Some of them have died in the line of duty. They have made the ultimate sacrifice because their difficult jobs haven’t provided them with an immunity from a virus that threatens everyone.

This Memorial Day, we should honor the fallen from past wars, the soldiers who fought in Europe 75 years ago, the ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, those who trudged through the jungles of Vietnam, and the patriots who ensured our freedom during the founding of the country.

We should also honor the fallen victims of the virus who were on the front lines, armed with personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns and face coverings. 

When we wave our flags and honor those who gave their lives, we should pray for and thank the heroes of the last few months as well. They put themselves in harm’s way and inspired the rest of us with the same kind of courage we celebrate each year from our armed forces.

Cécile Rol-Tanguy with her husband Henri. Photo from public domain

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Here is a script for the next Academy Award-winning film whenever we get back to making and viewing movies. It has all the right elements: white-knuckle suspense, bad guys, good guys, some who were both, Nazis, women of courage, men of valor, Charles de Gaulle, a love story, Auschwitz, a close family, children, heartbreak, resilience and especially a tale that truly happened. 

What’s it about? It is the life of Cécile Rol-Tanguy before and during WWII.

You probably never heard of her. I hadn’t until I read her obit. She died earlier this month at the age of 101 in Monteaux, 130 miles from Paris.  Born Marguerite Marie Cécile Le Bihan April 10, 1919, she was the daughter of Francois, an electrician who served in the French Navy and was a co-founder of the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1920. 

Cécile was raised in a highly politicized family that frequently hosted foreign communist agitators on the run from Italy, Germany and eastern European countries. As a communist, her father was arrested for the second time by the Nazis in 1943 and was sent to Auschwitz, where he died.

Cécile dropped out of school in 1936 and got a job with the Comite d’ Aide a la Espagne Republicaine, an organization helping the Republicans against Franco in Spain, and there she met Henri Rol-Tanguy, who was 11 years her senior and a fellow communist. He volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War, returned wounded in 1938, and they married in 1939 when she discovered she was pregnant. Sadly, she lost the baby girl in June 1940, two days before Paris fell to the German army. Shortly thereafter her father was arrested for the first time, and her husband, Henri, joined the French Resistance (Forces Francaises de l’Intérieur, or FFI).

Cécile too worked for the resistance, and when she gave birth to a second girl, Henri asked her to work elsewhere and leave the baby with her mother in case both of them were arrested. She refused.

They were separated during the war and were forced to hide their identities and their relationship, only communicating using code names. Cécile would adopt disguises and frequently change her hair style. She moved around Paris often hiding guns, grenades and clandestine newspapers in the baby’s stroller. She worked to set up a command post in an underground shelter, from which the couple received and distributed information and orders. Henri continued to move about the city, but Cécile felt confined to the headquarters, sending out communiques.

Then Aug. 19, 1944, the couple published and distributed a pamphlet calling the citizens of Paris to arms for a general mobilization, and, on Aug. 25, Paris was indeed liberated by the French division of the Allies’ army. In the underground, she said she could not hear the bells but she and the other women there celebrated by having a pillow fight.

Her husband went on to become an officer in the French Army, and while she was initially recognized for her efforts, Cécile felt that the many other women who had participated in the French Resistance at great peril to their lives were not. After the war and throughout the rest of her long life, she represented and advocated for recognition of the role of women in the French Resistance.

After 63 years of marriage, Henri died in 2002, and in 2008, Cécile was asked to become the Grand Officer of the Légion d’Honneur. Reluctant at first, she accepted the great distinction in the name of all the women resistance fighters whom she said were too often forgotten by history.

Cécile Rol-Tanguy died May 8, remarkably on the exact day of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe, known as VE Day. As she went along, giving lectures and interviews during her last years, she continually stressed the importance of fighting for one’s freedom. She wanted future generations to receive that message.

Fortunately, she lived long enough to see the reopening of the Musée de la Libération de Paris moved, in August 2019, to Place Denfert-Rochereau, the location of the underground from which she and her husband launched the insurrection that helped in the liberation of Paris. 

Metro photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Gin is a neutral spirit like vodka, which has been flavored with a range of botanicals, then redistilled.

Botanicals are parts of plants and include roots, stems, barks, leaves, flowers, berries, fruit, beans, seeds, pits, stems, skins, and so on. There are well over 100 botanicals that distillers worldwide use, and most are a proprietary mixture of a few or many.

There are a few botanicals, however, that most gin distillers use (juniper the most prevalent) and have for decades. They are lemon, orange, coriander, cassia bark, cardamom, angelica, cinnamon, orris root, and licorice.

Technically, gin which is made from a base of alcohol and flavored with botanicals could be called a liqueur if it were sweetened.

Most gin is not aged, and U.S. federal regulations do not permit age claims, distillation date, or vintage date. Gin is stored in containers of stainless steel, porcelain, concrete, glass, paraffin, or any other neutral material, although some distillers are barrel aging gin for varying amounts of time.

Gin is made in many countries especially England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, and the United States.

Some popular types of gin are:

London Dry Gin. A generic name for gin lacking sweetness. Although originally produced only in or near London in the early 1830s, are now produced all over the world with the term having little meaning. London Dry Gin is also known as British Gin, English Gin, and Dry Gin.

Plymouth Gin. A gin produced by the Coates firm of Plymouth, England, which was founded in 1793. Plymouth gin was originally associated with the British Royal Navy, who invented this gin as a tolerable way of drinking bitters (quinine), which helped control intestinal disorders. They often mixed it with lime juice; hence the nickname limey, which is frequently applied to the British.

Genever. A gin produced primarily in Holland from a low-proof, distilled malt spirit, which is redistilled with juniper and other botanicals resulting in a heavier body than the dry gins produced in the United States and England.

Sloe Gin. It is not a gin, but a red liqueur made from sloe (little blackberries berries) that grow in bluish-black bunches on blackthorn trees, which gives it a rather tart plum flavor.

Some brands of gin to try are Aviation, Beefeater, Bols, Bombay, Bull Dog, Citadelle, Gordon’s, Hendrick’s, Junipero, Plymouth, Tanqueray, The Botanist, and Vincent Van Gogh.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected]

Lobster Roll. Photo from METRO

By Barbara Beltrami

When I think of visiting a place it’s as much about the food as the sights. It’s the sweet anticipation of squid ink pasta in Venice or a real barbecue in Wyoming or pastry in Vienna or gumbo in New Orleans. 

It’s walking in the alleyways of little towns and smelling dinner cooking, going to an open air market and picking out just caught fish, just picked veggies, just baked crusty bread. It’s dining in a waterfront restaurant and slurping oysters with a chilled Sancerre or having an espresso at an outdoor café and people watching or picnicking in a field of lavender in Provence. It’s hearing distant music and laughter and the clinking of glasses, watching native people carry dinner home on  bicycles, in baskets on their heads or in string bags along cobbled streets. It’s sipping cocktails high up in a sky-scraper and watching the city light up. And it’s passing sidewalks where people squat on their haunches, drink tea and eat bowls of rice. 

But not this year nor any time soon. Leafing through cookbooks, remembering and fantasizing must suffice. And so I become not quite an armchair traveler but a kitchen chair traveler as I sit at the table, poring through and longingly ogling the photos and reminiscing their provenance. Sooner or later I zero in on a recipe, then try to approximate it and time travel back to its memory and taste. Here are a few I was reasonably successful with.

Quiche from a Picnic in Provence

Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

Nonstick cooking spray

Pie crust for 8-inch spring form tart pan

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 onions, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 bunch asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces

2 tomatoes, diced

2 large eggs

1 cup cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Dash nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray tart pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with pastry crust and trim. Set on baking sheet. In a medium skillet warm oil over medium heat; add onions, garlic, parsley, thyme, asparagus, and tomatoes. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are opaque, asparagus is tender, and tomatoes are mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to pie crust. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Pour over sautéed veggies. Bake until knife inserted in center of quiche comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a delicate green salad.

Lobster Roll from a Maine Lobster Shack

Lobster Roll. Photo from METRO

YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound fresh lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 inner celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 to 4 top-split hot dog rolls, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS:

In medium bowl, thoroughly combine lobster, mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, parsley and salt and pepper. Brush insides of rolls with melted butter; heap with lobster mixture. Serve immediately with iced tea and potato chips.

Apple Strudel from a Café in Budapest

Apple Strudel

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 1/4 cups apple juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup raisins

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4 sheets phyllo dough

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons

3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl, whisk together one-quarter cup of apple juice with cornstarch. In large saucepan over medium heat combine the remaining cup apple juice, apples, raisins, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts and cook, stirring frequently, until apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until smooth; simmer until apple mixture thickens, about one minute. 

Remove from heat; cover and cool. Meanwhile  lay out one sheet phyllo dough, brush with one-third of the butter( not counting the two tablespoons), then sprinkle with one-third bread crumbs; repeat procedure with 2 more sheets phyllo dough; top with fourth sheet phyllo dough, spread with cooled apple mixture, leaving half an inch border on all sides. Tucking in ends, roll into log and brush with remaining two tablespoons butter. 

Carefully transfer strudel, seam side down, to baking sheet; bake until light golden, about 15 minutes; remove from oven and let cool before slicing into two-inch pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream and hot coffee.

 

Betty Boop

MEET BETTY BOOP!

This week’s shelter pet is an eight-year-old female pit bull terrier mix named Betty Boop, currently waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter for a family to adopt her. Named after the iconic cartoon diva (who was originally designed as a dog), Miss Boop can’t get enough of people, and volunteers at the shelter can’t get enough of her! 

This ball of love was brought in to the shelter by a good samaritan who found her looking lost at a nearby train station. It was quickly discovered how attached she gets to everyone when she cried watching the good samaritan leave. She doesn’t like to see any of her new friends go!

Betty Boop is the perfect combination of calm, affectionate, and sweet all rolled into a 70 pound ball of love. Her eyes say it all; she oozes love and adoration for every new person she meets. While she’s great with children, she would prefer to be the only pet in her home.

*Due to the health risk presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be limited public access to the shelter. If you are interested in meeting Betty Boop please fill out an adoption application online at www.townofsmithtownanimalshelter.com.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, call 631-360-7575.

The Cerulean Warbler is on the New York State Special Concern list. Photo by Gary Robinette/National Audubon Society

By John L. Turner

For many years there has been a broad public perception that the primary effect of dumping excessive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, from the burning of fossil fuels (and the release of other gases such as methane from landfills, gas and oil wells, and other sources), was the warming of the atmosphere — a phenomenon that was first called “global warming” or the “greenhouse effect.” 

Higher average daily and annual temperatures in the atmosphere have, indeed, occurred, so that label is partially correct — 2019 was the second hottest year ever measured, only slightly behind 2016, and according to records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the past five years are the warmest years on record in the 140-year span the federal government has been measuring atmospheric temperatures; today’s earth is more than two degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than it was in 1950.

But while the term “global warming” has become shorthand to describe the effect increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 have on climate, a wide number of scientists recognize that warming temperatures are but one of many adverse environmental effects caused by too much atmospheric CO2 and, in fact, in some places excess CO2 has caused cooling. 

Thus, the term “global warming” both is inaccurate and too restrictive to capture the full range of ecological/environmental impacts and resultantly has fallen into disfavor, replaced by the more accurate label of “climate change” or “climate disruption”. But even these more accurate, expansive labels don’t completely portray the full suite of environmental effects occurring around the world, effects that go far beyond climate, as concerning as that alone would make the climate crisis.

Below is a description of but a few of the many commonly recognized “faces” of climate change that have emerged over the past decade:

More extreme and destructive weather — A warmer atmosphere has more energy and holds more water vapor. This has resulted, in the past decade, of more intense weather events such as increased rainfall and associated flooding, hurricanes, and in some places just the opposite: droughts, often resulting in catastrophic wildfires. Poor Texas: in 2011 the state experienced day time temperatures of over 100 degrees for more than 100 straight days! and experienced a “500-year” storm (a storm of such intensity it is expected to occur once every 500 years) for three straight years (2015-2017).

Sea level rise — As temperatures rise so does the level of the ocean due to thermal expansion and the large volumes of meltwater running off of glaciers and ice caps; it is 2.6 inches higher than 1993 and is rising about one-eighth of an inch per year, a rate that some fear will increase and perhaps increase quickly. 

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has published sea level rise projections for Long Island; for the 2050s the low projection is an eight inch rise, the medium range projection is 16 inches and the high projection is 30 inches. If the medium to high projections occur, Long Island’s shoreline will be redrawn with marshes and beaches disappearing and thousands of homeowners having to relocate. Miami and many other coastal cities are already being inundated.

Ocean Warming & Acidification — The world’s oceans are warming too and also absorbing the significant majority of excess CO2. When CO2 combines with seawater a weak acid — carbonic acid — is formed. This is not good for shell making creatures like clams and corals. Due to ocean warming and the shifting of pH, coral and other shell making creatures are increasingly stressed. A 2008 study on the health of the planet’s coral reefs indicated that one-fifth are gone with another 15-20% under significant stress.

Impacts to Wildlife — Every other species on Spaceship Earth will potentially be affected by climate change; many have already. Birds, for example, run the risk of starving due to a timing mismatch between when they migrate and when their insect food emerges. A report from the National Audubon Society published in late 2019 finds that two-thirds of North American species are at heightened risk of extinction due to climate change.

Spreading of disease — A number of disease-causing pathogens are likely to get worse as the climate becomes warmer and wetter. Malaria is but one example and it is not a small example. According to the World Health Organization 405,000 people died from contracting malaria last year with 228 million contracting the disease. Closer to home, scientists think both West Nile Virus and Lyme disease will become more prevalent as the planet warms.

A popular slogan seen at climate change rallies is “There is no Planet B.” We can continue to sleepwalk through the issue by electing leaders who “deny” climate change, and pretend there’s a Planet B awaiting us once we finish befouling Planet A. Collectively, we have a fundamental choice to make — we can recognize the madness of this idea, or recognize there is, of course, only one hospitable planet — Planet A — and as occupants of it, we are in a great position to do something about it.

The “faces” of climate change are profound and the magnitude of what needs to be done may seem intractable and overwhelming, leading us to throw up our collective hands in despair. 

A much better response is to use those same hands to reduce our carbon footprints by: holding a pen to check the box on the election ballot for candidates who recognize the serious threat climate change poses to nature and humanity, use another pen to write a check to a solar company if you can afford to install roof-top solar panels, twist some new LED light-bulbs into ceiling and lamp sockets, grab a screwdriver and install a dryer vent deflector to have the moist and warm heat from your dryer warm your house in the winter rather than be vented (and wasted) outdoors, lift the lid of your compost bin to compost organic waste, and drop recyclable materials, especially aluminum cans, into your recycling can.

And by completing these actions, and others, you’re acknowledging there is no Planet B, and further, that Planet A, this one small and fragile blue marble floating in a vacuum void, is all we have and all we will ever have. Taking these concrete steps to address the many faces of climate change is bound to put a smile on your face.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.