The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways
“Time to Panic” is the title of a recent opinion piece in the New York Times. One could argue it is way past time to panic, but the point is climate catastrophe is finally being discussed in the press, in legislative bodies and in public. Much of this new discussion revolves around the ideas of a Green New Deal.
The following is from: Time to Panic. The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us. By David Wallace-Wells. Mr. Wallace-Wells is the author of the forthcoming “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.”, New York Times, Feb. 16, 2019
The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.Time to Panic. The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us. By David Wallace-Wells”, New York Times, Feb. 16, 2019
We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization.
In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report — “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” as one United Nations official described it — detailing climate effects at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). At the opening of a major United Nations conference two months later, David Attenborough, the mellifluous voice of the BBC’s “Planet Earth” and now an environmental conscience for the English-speaking world, put it even more bleakly: “If we don’t take action,” he said, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Scientists have felt this way for a while. But they have not often talked like it. For decades, there were few things with a worse reputation than “alarmism” among those studying climate change.
Discussions of climate change often talk about the consequences of a certain increase in atmospheric temperature. The article cited above includes the following graphic that makes it easier to visualize the consequences of rises in air temperatures. Note the x-axis (horizontal) begins at an increase of 1.5 degrees Centigrade (C) and ends at 3 C above pre-industrial baseline temperature.
The article continues:
Panic might seem counterproductive, but we’re at a point where alarmism and catastrophic thinking are valuable, for several reasons.
- The first is that climate change is a crisis precisely because it is a looming catastrophe that demands an aggressive global response, now. In other words, it is right to be alarmed.
- By defining the boundaries of conceivability more accurately, catastrophic thinking makes it easier to see the threat of climate change clearly.
- While concern about climate change is growing — fortunately — complacency remains a much bigger political problem than fatalism.
- The fact is, further delay will only make the problem worse. If we started a broad decarbonization effort today — a gargantuan undertaking to overhaul our energy systems, building and transportation infrastructure and how we produce our food — the necessary rate of emissions reduction would be about 5 percent per year. If we delay another decade, it will require us to cut emissions by some 9 percent each year. This is why the United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, believes we have only until 2020 to change course and get started.
It is because more and more people are beginning to panic that the Green New Deal is getting so much attention, both for and against it.
Now is a unique opportunity to influence public debate and policies. It will require vast numbers of us to speak up for the Green New Deal. I know it often feels futile, but it is crucial for our Congressional representatives to hear from us.
The following, from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). That web page includes a tool to help you create an email message to send to you Congressional representatives. In the Midwest we can talk to our governmental representatives about the opportunities the Green New Deal offers for expanding our leadership in wind energy, as one example.
Republicans – and even some Democrats – are spreading misinformation to derail one of the most incredible organizing opportunities we’ve seen to push for climate solutions we need – for us, our kids and our grandkids.https://actionnetwork.org/letters/sign-on-to-the-green-new-deal?source=2.19email
The Green New Deal can:
Create millions of living wage, non-polluting jobs. The proposal is calling for a federal jobs guarantee for all who want one.
Transition our energy, transportation, and agricultural systems to be environmentally sustainable and good for local economies.
Provide guaranteed benefits for all, such as Medicare for All, real gender pay equity, paid sick and family leave, and more.
End all new fossil fuel extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure.
But the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in Congress last week was only a resolution. It was not a full bill with detailed policies.
That’s the beautiful part. This resolution is a starting point.
This is our chance – the people’s chance – to fight for the climate solutions we need to save the planet and save our communities.
We’ve got to start organizing. Today we’re asking you to join the growing call – from the youth to the grandparents – demanding our elected officials support the Green New Deal resolution.