By KRIS PASTORIZA of Easton
Starvation, Wildfires, Flooding, Forced Migration, Drought, Pandemics, Desertification and War
We must not be lulled into thinking that the world as we experience it now can dependably inform us as to what is likely to happen in the near future. If our species is to survive, we must trust the science.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the world first breached the safe level of 350 ppm of CO2 in 1986.
In 1992, when the first inter-nation climate agreement was signed, the CO2 level was 359.99 ppm. During the summit, 178 member nations set a target to bring CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2000.
In 2020 the CO2 level was 414 ppm, far higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years.
Antonio Guterrez, Secretary General of the United Nations described the state of the earth in 2020:
“To put it simply, the state of the planet is broken…
Humanity is waging war on nature.
This is suicidal.
Nature always strikes back — and it is already doing so with growing force and fury…
One million species are at risk of extinction…
Deserts are spreading…
Every year, we lose 10 million hectares (24,710,538. acres) of forests…
The past decade was the hottest in human history…
Sea ice has decreased for 32 straight years and ice melt is accelerating.
Ocean heat is at record levels.
Permafrost is melting and so releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas (with a global warming
potential (GWP) 84 times greater than CO2)…
Today, we are at 1.2 degrees of warming and already witnessing unprecedented climate extremes and volatility in every region and on every continent.
We are headed for a thundering temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century.
The science is crystal clear: to limit temperature rise to 1.5-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6 per cent every year between now and 2030.
Instead, the world is going in the opposite direction — planning an annual increase of 2 per cent.”
“We need to achieve global carbon neutrality within the next three decades.”
“This is an epic policy test. But ultimately this is a moral test.” Antonio Guterres
This goal of net-zero emissions is almost never followed by a statement of policies necessary to reach the goal, let alone by laws requiring these actions. According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 28% of greenhouse gasses and electricity for 27% of greenhouse gasses. Yet the US has no gas tax, gas or water rationing, electricity tax or electricity rationing or individual carbon credits/tax. Any politician who were to mention rationing would be outcast, yet this is the fairest and quickest way to lower consumption to essential levels.
Consider that the gas and oil we use has already produced carbon and pollution in its extraction, transportation, refining, and more transportation. Consider that we are all complicit in the oil extraction conveniently taking place somewhere else.
The lock-down days of Covid were the perfect example of the actions (or inaction) needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. The lock-down brought the words “non-essential” into people’s understanding, and made it clear that much of our present work, consumption, driving, and recreation are non-essential.
We need to act in three areas, to limit the damage of global warming.
First, we need to vote for candidates who will act on it. Biden is president but Sununu is Governor of New Hampshire. Governor Sununu did not use the lock-down as a first step toward net-zero nor did he take action to make farming, tourism and other businesses we depend on carbon-neutral.
Second, we need to alter our behavior and drive less, waste less, and consume less. People notice what others do in response to global warming; if you cycle instead of driving, insulate your house, downsize, get a few solar panels, give up a vacation, give up a car or a carbon-heavy recreational activity, plant a vegetable garden, give up meat, buy local, talk about climate, people will see you and hear you.
The third necessary act is organized opposition and peaceful demonstrations to force those in power to take real action. It was public protests that lead to progressive legislation by Roosevelt during the depression, programs that still benefit us; rural electrification, Social Security, minimum wage and overtime, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and FDIC.
Consider that: “Scientists now find that that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable consequent to continued high emissions, self-reinforcing climate feedback loops and looming tipping points.” 2
Consider that: “The threshold for dangerous global warming will likely be crossed between 2027 and 2042…” 3
If we adults do not rise up against this existential threat to our world, how can we expect the next generation to come to grips with the instability in which they will find themselves, a world we brought into being by failing to act on what we knew 30 years ago?
To be silent is to be complicit. To fail to consider global warming amidst our every act is to be complicit. To fail to join and support the existing resistance groups demanding action on global warming that countries have been promising for 30 years is to gift today’s children war, famine, floods, pandemics, drought, wildfires, fear, and suffering.
Please do not avert your gaze.