This is why all the nations of the world came to agreement in Paris to keep the world well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline.
As a mother and retired teacher, I have grave concern for the challenges my adult children and my young students will face because of climate change.
And, of course, those challenges will increase with each generation unless a major course correction is taken.
Science tells us that we’re changing the planet’s climate by burning fossil fuels, that we’re headed toward a dangerous tipping point in the next two decades if we don’t radically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
This tipping point is expected to set up positive feedback effects such as the melting of Arctic Sea ice, which in turn increases the amount of heat absorbed by the Earth.
Warming causing more warming.
Of course, we’ve already seen the effects of that warming — droughts, worsening storms, flooding, wildfires and freak weather events — all of which will quickly intensify as global temperatures rise.
We have but one course of action.
We must leave most of the coal, oil and gas on the planet in the ground and unburned, and transition rapidly to a renewable-energy economy.
While responsibility for this transition rests squarely on the shoulders of all of us, “We the People” cannot bear these burdens alone while the coal, oil and gas industries continue to reap huge profits, and government continues to ignore its responsibility to the mandates of science and the consequences of climate change.
Politicians at every level of government must be held accountable for their action and inaction.
To our county representatives: Investment in renewable energy infrastructure, local entrepreneurship and both traditional and innovative agriculture that will keep jobs and our young people in this county.
Fossil fuel infrastructure will only devalue our most precious assets — clean air, water and land — while providing few long-term jobs.
To Gov. Cuomo: A state that rightfully banned fracking should not have increased its use of fracked gas 18 percent between 2005 and 2014, nor increased its gas customers by half a million in the same time period, by granting permits for ongoing gas infrastructure projects. We know that all these projects leak methane, the main component of fracked gas, at every stage, and that methane is 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the critical 20-year timeframe before us.
To our federal government: Trump’s cabinet picks — Tillerson for secretary of State, Pruitt for EPA, Perry for Energy and Zinke for Interior — all have ties to the carbon lobby and either deny global warming, doubt human activity as its cause, or downplay its importance. We have our work cut out for us in pressuring law makers to rein in these friends of oil and gas.
An alternative theory about the motives of these climate-change skeptics was posited by Alex Steffen in a recent article, “Trump, Putin, and the Pipelines to Nowhere.” These skeptics may, in fact, be surreptitious climate change believers with a big agenda.
While the extreme measures needed to extract fossil fuels today make them both uneconomic as well as catastrophic to climate, the Trump team may be determined to delay climate action and to keep the carbon bubble from bursting by propping up the extraction industries long enough for them to reap the last benefits of high valuation and large dividends from their substantial investments.
They want shareholders buying into the perception of future oil and gas profits, even though they are fully aware of the magnitude of the damage ahead, to the economy and to the climate.
The end game for them is short-term, but it’s disastrous for the planet, and we must call them out on it. Steffen writes, “The most serious political fight on the planet — the need to end use of coal, oil and gas — is at the center of America’s current political crisis.”
We will have to redefine prosperity and growth with new meanings and a return to some old ones.
We will need to grow community, grow alliances, grow food, grow networks, grow resilience, grow support and grow local enterprise.
The innovations needed to transition to a renewable energy economy with new industries and millions of jobs are already here.
We just have to commit to the tough but necessary work of making this transition in our communities and to holding our representatives’ feet to the fire of our warming planet by demanding climate action and a jobs economy based on renewable energy.
Joan Tubridy, of Meredith, is a mother, retired teacher and former farmer.
Press link for more: The Daily Star