During the past week, we've seen the potential disaster global warming poses to our oceans, rivers, forests and parks. These changes carry clear implications for Del Norte County's economy, quality of life and ecology.

There is very little time to act on global warming. The longer we wait, scientists overwhelmingly say, the more difficult facing the consequences of warming will become. Further, as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for about a century, the longer we wait to address the problem then the longer the threat of warming's potential damages remain.

Clearly there is need for each of us as individuals to make decisions that slow warming. It's a topic we've addressed in previous editorials.

But there also is the need for local government action. To that end, Crescent City Council, Del Norte County Board and Del Norte Unified School Board ought to meet the standards set in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement efforts.

The mayors' agreement calls on cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent within five years. As the standards largely can be achieved through energy efficiency at buildings and in transportation vehicles, the agreement is easily adaptable to counties and school districts

Indeed, other cities are readily adopting it. Nearly 400 cities representing more than 57 million Americans in 38 states have agreed to the meet the standard. Last month, nearby Redwood City even joined, and began hosting round-table discussions about ways its residents and business owners can reduce global warming in their daily lives. Redwood City also plans to green the city's vehicle fleets with hybrid vehicles and to utilize cleaner-burning fuels. In addition, the city plans to modernize its buildings with energy-efficiency technology.

Crescent City, Del Norte School and Del Norte Unified Schools should conduct a baseline study of its emissions. Staff for each would study potential emissions-cutting steps and their financial feasibility as well as investigate potential budget impacts. Finally, staff would create a plan, and with the City Council's, County Board's and School Board's approval, implement a plan for reducing them.

Such efforts would carry benefits beyond global warming: While there is an initial cost to making the change, in the long-run they mean lower costs for taxpayers because less energy is being used.

Global warming is no longer just an issue for the United Nations, our federal government or even state lawmakers to address. It is a matter of urgency that even local officials must confront. For the sake of our economy and our quality of life, Del Norte County's many elected officials must take action.