Earth & Environment

December 1, 2019: No Longer a Crisis, but an Emergency

Posted on December 01, 2019 at 12:00 AM

On November 6, The Washington Post announced a new report on what is happening to the earth’s climate. The findings are so dire that 11,258 scientists from 153 countries signed off on the report, published in the November 5 issue of the journal BioScience. Tellingly, two of the countries contributing to the report are Australia, now ravaged by unprecedented wildfires, and South Africa, where many parts of the continent are undergoing historic droughts. The report does not counsel despair, but urges immediate and large-scale action, including leaving fossil fuels in the ground and implementing “massive energy efficiency and conservation practices.” Another key recommendation is to immediately cut emissions of short-term pollutants such as methane and coal-produced soot. A summary of the report can be found online.

Meanwhile, our home-grown Nero is not just fiddling, but is eagerly fanning the flames. He and his enablers are cutting regulations that limit pollutants from coal-fired power plants, methane emissions from fracking, and greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles, while pushing for increasing oil exploration and drilling in sensitive ecosystems. Forests are well-known carbon sinks, but this administration is promoting logging, especially in the Tongass temperate rain forest in Alaska. The Tongass—the American Amazon—has
irreplaceable ecological and climactic benefits for the entire northern hemisphere.

In the most recent outrage (no surprise; it was first announced in early 2017), the administration has officially withdrawn the United States—the only country to do so—from the Paris Climate Agreements. Of some small comfort is that the withdrawal will take a year to finalize, which incidentally will coincide with the November elections. Between now and then, we must all push hard for the election of city, county, and state legislators and for the selection of government leaders who are advocates for and champions of a healthy climate and environment. And, we can band together to conserve energy, transition to 100% renewable energy sources, drive less, and lobby regulators and legislators, as well as business leaders, to see the climate emergency facing us and take bold action to counter it.

“Want a livable Earth? Vote Democratic!”

— Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

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