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Climate Week

by on September 27, 2020

As we approach the end of Climate Week (Sept. 21-27) it’s time to remember some of the climate news that has happened since mid-September.

On September 15, just a week before Climate Week began, ProPublica published a projected climate migration map of the United States suggesting that even with moderate carbon emission “much of the lower half of the U.S. [will] too hot or dry for the type of climate humans historically have lived in.”

Although “today, the combination of truly dangerous heat and humidity is rare” at our current emissions rate causing increase global warming, “

by 2050, parts of the Midwest and Louisiana could see conditions that make it difficult for the human body to cool itself for nearly one out of every 20 days in the year. New projections for farm productivity also suggest that growing food will become difficult across large parts of the country, including the heart of the High Plains’ $35 billion agriculture industry. All the while, sea level rise will transform the coasts.

According to The Hill, the same analysis by the New York Times and ProPublica suggested that “approximately 28 million people across the country could face Manhattan-size megafires by 2070, with Northern California residents experiencing them annually. ”

In essence, “nearly 1 in 2 Americans ‘will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water,’ in the next 30 years, with changes being the most severe for 93 million people,” The Hill says, quoting parts of the study. Additionally, The Hill wrote, the analysis claims that by 2070, “four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life.”

ProPublica began by talking about moderate climate emissions. On September 20th, Greta Thunberg provide an eye-opening statistic: Since 2005 “about one third of ALL the world’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions have occurred. Over half of our CO2 emissions have taken place since 1990.”

People, countries, and companies with platforms are making statements and setting goals, even if that goal isn’t sufficient. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, called for ‘swift action’; South Korea set a goal of net goal of net zero emissions by 2050, following China’s pledge to be at net zero by 2060; Walmart has set a goal of zero emissions by 2040; California plans to ban the sale of combustion engines – the ones that consume gas, and emit pollution – by 2035.

Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist, points out that South Korea’s pledge is meaningless, and a goal of net zero thirty years from now – or, as China suggests, forty years from now – is basically climate denial. In that vein, Walmart’s pledge to act twenty years from now is also simply passing the buck, or kicking the can down the road. Swift action is needed.

As I pointed out in Climate Clock, if we act within seven years to counter irreparable climate catastrophe the planet might remain livable.

Climate change and concatenate climate justice has become an important issue in politics. Biden has set the net zero emissions goal for the U.S at the year 2050; as I pointed out in Climate Marker, his plan doesn’t include actions detrimental to climate change, like ending fracking. Howie Hawkins of the Green Party proposes net zero 2030. Frankly, I don’t think that Republicans or libertarians have a climate plan.

While there are several paths to ensure that we don’t reach a point of irreparable damage all of those paths lead to decarbonization. Decarbonization, according to Volkswagon, is “literally means the reduction of carbon. Precisely meant is the conversion to an economic system that sustainably reduces and compensates the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂). The long-term goal is to create a CO₂-free global economy.”

While long-term goals are important, short-term actions are essential to implementing long-term goals. The time for statements about long term-goals is over; it’s time to implement the long-term goals by acting now.

From → Environment

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