It should be the banner headline on every morning newspaper, but it won’t be. It should be the lead story on every newscast, but it won’t be. It should be the cover story on every magazine, but it won’t be. It should be discussed in every coffee shop and around every dinner table, but it won’t be. It should be the only item on every congressional calendar, but it won’t be. It’s the most important story of our lifetime.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a bleak assessment regarding the dire effects of global warming on our planet. The exhaustive report (www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15) describes the devastating results of continued man-made global warming: rising sea levels destroying low-lying population centers; warmer oceans killing critical coral reefs; higher carbon dioxide levels threatening multiple species – including humans.
This is not a problem we can kick down the road. IPCC scientists warn we only have until 2030 to slow rising temperatures, or the planet will reach a critical point beyond which nothing we do will help. Stated simply, we have 12 years to save the planet, or it dies.
Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree global warming is real, man-made and catastrophic. NASA published a report in 2017 detailing the urgency of our climate situation (climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus). Yet in the face of overwhelming evidence, the party in power steadfastly refuses to acknowledge those facts. Science deniers like Trump and Tom McClintock use condescending rationalizations to trivialize global warming, glibly asserting, “The earth has been warming and cooling for 14 million years.” They steadfastly disregard the inexorable rise in temperature since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Every country on the planet except Syria and Nicaragua signed the Paris Accords, agreeing to take affirmative steps to reduce warming. As part of his obsession with reversing President Obama’s accomplishments, Trump announced he will withdraw from of the Accords. Trump now grudgingly admits global warming is real, but will not accept scientific proof that it’s man-made or catastrophic.
The world has never faced a greater threat. No less than the fate of the planet is at stake. Because they are addicted to donations from energy companies, our elected officials will not act until they are bombarded by outraged constituents demanding action. We owe it to our grandchildren to leave them a habitable place to live. Read the reports. Get mad. Get involved. Save the planet.
Charles Bednar of Oakhurst is secretary-treasurer of the Oakhurst Democratic Club.