Climate change is not a science problem. There is consensus among the scientists that climate change is real, caused by human activity and what needs to be done.
Taking action is not awaiting scientific consensus. It is awaiting political consensus and economic understanding. Those denying reality are the problem and will be judged harshly by history.
Unlike nuclear war which may happen, climate change is happening. The fact that it unfolds gradually makes it is no less real and no less an existential threat.
Imagine going to the doctor and receiving a diagnosis of diabetes. You don’t like the diagnosis so you get a second opinion, 100 times. 99 of the doctors agree you have diabetes, one who works for a soft drink company disagrees. Would you change your behavior?
Regarding climate change, 99% of scientists agree it is an existential threat that demands aggressive action. One percent, employed by fossil fuel companies disagree. Will you change your behavior?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report written by scientists from 40 countries citing over 6,000 references determined that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 to avoid catastrophic results. Last year emissions hit a record high so we are well above 2010 levels. We have 11 years to make a 50% reduction in emissions.
There is 50% more carbon in the atmosphere than before industrialization. The last five years were the five warmest on record.
Last year the United States released its Climate Assessment from 13 government agencies including NOAA, NASA, Departments of Agriculture, and Defense. They warned of reduced agricultural yields, rising oceans, ocean acidification, increased severe weather events, more frequent fires, droughts, and slowing economic growth.
We are currently on course for a 4 degrees Centigrade or 7.2 Fahrenheit rise in temperature this century. Peak warming occurs 50 years after emissions hit zero because of the long half life of the gases.
Climate change is the real National Emergency. We have entered positive feedback loops such as losing reflective ice so more heat is absorbed and melting permafrost releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Our response must be proportionate to the scale of the problem.
The costs of addressing climate change should not be an obstacle because doing nothing will cost more. Renewable energy is creating more jobs than outdated fossil fuels. We are currently spending hundreds of billions of dollars per year on fires, storms, floods and draughts. Our economy is dependent our environment.
Physicists predicted this 100 years ago. Science is predictable. Fossil fuel companies knew about this 50 years ago. They hired the lobbyists of the tobacco industry used to create doubt and prevent regulatory action. Even President Trump believes in climate change, he proves it by building sea walls around his golf courses to protect from rising oceans.
We will not salvage our moral authority by being the only country to deny science and failing in our responsibility in this world wide crisis. We will not reclaim our position as world leader by waiting for other countries to lead.
The United States is responsible for 26% of all human-caused greenhouse gases. Because we are the leading contributor to the problem we must lead in solving the problem.
This problem has an expiration date. This is our generation’s WWII moment. It is time to act.
What can you do? Vote for people who will do something. Consume less, have fewer children, educate your self and others, eat local, support renewables and support land use policies that sequester carbon.
Climate change cannot be wished or bargained away. It will haunt every aspect of society. You can’t simultaneously claim to love your children while selling their future.
“Nature is part of all of our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” Wendell Barry