ECLECTIC RANT: Climate crisis: action, not hope needed

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:26:00 AM

Perhaps, our youth like Greta Thunberg will lead the world in fighting the climate crisis. On August 30, 2019, Swedish teen activist Ms. Thunberg was joined by a crowd of other young people outside the United Nation headquarters in New York City, in furtherance of the youth environmental movement. Two days earlier, Ms. Thunberg and two other teens arrived aboard a carbon-free yacht after a two-week transatlantic boat crossing. She will attend the UN climate summits in New York later this month, and in Santiago, Chile, in December. Her message is simple: she wants a concrete plan, not just nice words to fight climate crisis.

Empirical evidence shows that the climate crisis is real and is largely caused by man. This is not a theory; it is a fact. If someone tells you that this is not true, then they are lying or stupid or stand to make lots of money by ignoring it. By denying climate change, you have an excuse to do little or nothing about it. Climate change is no longer about science; it is now a political, economic, social debate. In other words, what do we do about the crisis now? 

It has long been known that humans impact our atmosphere severely and our unrelenting production of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) increase the effects of the naturally occurring "greenhouse effect" that keeps our planet habitable. The more CO2 we pump into our atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere gets. This is a scientific fact based on decades of scientific study. The main cause of the increase in global average temperatures in recent history is not because of any natural cycle -- although natural cycles do exist -- it is because of man. 

Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather stormier and more extreme. Polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice; sea levels have been raised by trillions of gallons of water. Far more wildfires rage. The world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree (0.54 degrees Celsius). And the temperature in the U.S. has gone up even more — nearly 1.6 degrees. 

NASA satellites have shown three inches of sea level rise in just the past 25 years. With more than 70% of the Earth covered by oceans, a 3-inch increase means about 6,500 cubic-miles of extra water, enough to cover the entire U.S. with water about 9 inches deep. 

In California, for example, scientists predict that in less than 30 years, rising waters will flood about 30,000 homes along the state’s shoreline. This will have a major impact on real estate and housing with the real estate value of the threatened homes estimated to be $15 billion statewide. 

Under President Donald Trump, the federal government is doing nothing. Rather, he is exacerbating the crisis. Trump has had a lot of things to say about global warming: the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” When he became president, his true intention became clear when he quickly signed an executive order rolling back key Obama-era limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And then he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, signed by 176 countries and the European Union. 

Recently, the Trump administration rescinded environmental rules governing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, making this the 84th environmental rule this administration has worked to repeal.  

Trump was noticeably absent from last month’s G-7 climate meeting in Biarritz, France, demonstrating once again his lack of interest in fighting climate change. 

With so much at stake, why is the Trump administration, and too many in Congress, not addressing climate change head on? It is no mystery to me. These so-called climate change deniers have made a self-interested political decision, rather than a scientific one. By denying climate change, they have an excuse to do little or nothing about it; they don't want to alienate their friends in the fossil fuel industry,  

It is not coincidental that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 other Republicans, whose campaigns have collected more than $10 million in oil, gas and coal money since 2012, sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  

It is way past time for the Trump administration to develop and implement an action plan at the federal level. We must put public health and the environment ahead of corporate interests. Planet Earth is our home; we have no place to evacuate to if our home becomes uninhabitable.  

For a frightening must read about climate change, see Losing Earth: The Decade we almost stopped climate change. A tragedy in two acts, by Nathaniel Rich; Photographs by George Steinmetz. 

Listen to our youth, it’s their future too.