It is with genuine reluctance that I once again broach the subject of global warming and climate change. There are so many things commanding our attention now, from impeachment hearings, the daily toll of gun deaths, the activities of TV and Hollywood stars, sports, and on through a long list of individual interests and distractions.
But we cannot pretend that climate change isn’t the single most important issue facing all of us. California is now almost constantly in flames, to the point that people living there are beginning to think of leaving what they assumed to be an earthly Paradise.
The Atlantic Ocean is steadily rising along our eastern shore. The Pacific and Indian oceans are forcing island societies to seek other homes. Storms around the world are increasing in intensity. Floods and droughts are becoming part of "normal" weather patterns.
The flood of immigrants around the world has been set in motion by a variety of human crimes and carelessness, but principally by unbearable temperatures and loss of water and arable land.
The "weather machine" that has operated with but few irregularities for centuries is starting to behave erratically, thrown off-kilter by loss of tropical forests and polar ice.
All of us are conditioned to want stability in our lives, but the most stable aspect of our lives — the atmosphere in which we dwell — is starting to shift in ways we pretend not to see.
All of society is tightly bound to the oil and gas industries for investments, jobs, infrastructure, and the fuel that enables us to heat and cool our homes, drive our cars, and enjoy a supply of food and goods made possible by the constant movement of products around the world. But they are killing us.
We really don’t want to think that. At the core of it all is that we resist being inconvenienced. We relish our freedom of movement, choice and lifestyles. To recognize what is happening to our world is to face a diminishment of it all.
This is not news. You have read or heard it before, but the constant temptation is to listen instead to those siren voices who place making a buck ahead of acting in defense of future generations.
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What occasions this is the latest issue of Bioscience Journal, in which 11,000 scientists have done something extraordinary. They have dropped their professional reticence to declare "a climate emergency" — a compelling statement about where we are, what we face, and what we have to do right now. You can find the Bioscience Journal on the internet. It’s something you ought to look up.
On the off chance that you won’t, let me quote a part of their lengthy and comprehensive statement:
"Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to 'tell it like it is.' On the basis of this obligation, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
"Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings of insufficient progress.
"Yet greenhouse gas emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth's climate. An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis."
If you prefer summarized coverage of the statement, consult the Washington Post, Guardian, or New York Times websites. This is information you should have. We may be at or near a tipping point of catastrophic change. Even if we apply the brakes on everything, temperatures and seas will continue to rise for centuries.
You may have heard that the United Kingdom just banned fracking. It took only one sizable earthquake at a fracking site to have the whole industry shut down. Meanwhile fracking is expanding around the world. After all, money is to be made on this investment before he rest of the world catches up to Britain. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is about to dump all its oil on the world, sensing what is to come.
It may be that we react with resignation, lose hope, or adopt President Trump’s comment: "I’ll be dead by then." Whatever your feeling about it, please look at the facts. Not the propaganda; the facts.