Is 20 years enough time to build an ark? Maybe we can use the one in the Bible Museum once the world floods. I’ve read the report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the news isn’t good. The world’s leading climate scientists warn that we have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius before horrible things happen. Half a degree more will worsen the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The report states that we’ve been underestimating the point at which the effects of man-made climate change can no longer be stopped. Overall, the report reads like the basis for the Mad Max franchise. It describes a world of “worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040, a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”
Here’s a quick review of climate change and its effect on our planet from the report:
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) occur naturally. By keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space, they are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things. A century and a half of industrialization, including clear-felling forests and certain farming methods, however, has driven up the quantity of GHGs in the atmosphere. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of GHGs. Here are some basic, well-established, scientific facts:
• The concentration of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to its average global temperature;
• The concentration of GHGs has been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the Industrial Revolution;
• The most abundant GHG, carbon dioxide (CO2), is the product of burning fossil fuels.
Or as I would call it: Trump Voter Moonshine.
The report projects that:
…staying at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius will require slashing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Many science-denying Republican lawmakers — whose votes are bought by coal money — brush off this report as “unrealistic”. That very stable genius, OK Sen. Jim Inhofe, famously mocked climate change as “the greatest hoax” ever perpetrated on Americans. He tried to prove his point by throwing a snowball onto the Senate floor.
After not reading the report, Sen. Snowball called it a “fantasy” and “magical thinking.” Why would they worry? These sour old men will be dead long before they’ll watch their coastlines destroyed by endless hurricanes or watch their beloved state become unlivable as tornadoes tear up town after Oklahoma town.
The report also directly links climate change to crushing poverty worldwide, especially in agricultural regions and coastal areas. In effect, it’s a national and global security issue:
…1.5°C would disproportionately affect disadvantaged and vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements. Some of the worst impacts on sustainable development are expected to be felt among agricultural and coastal dependent livelihoods, indigenous people, children and the elderly, poor labourers, poor urban dwellers in African cities, and people and ecosystems in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States.
Climate change will exacerbate existing violence around the world: hunger and deprivation is a great recruiting tool for foot soldiers. When you have large areas where food is in short supply, there are no jobs; hopelessness sits in the air. It’s easy to be lured into committing government sanctioned violence if you get to eat every day.
Climate change also exacerbates the risks of hunger and undernutrition due to an increase in the frequency and intensity of droughts, floods and storms that adversely impact food security: disasters can destroy crops, critical infrastructure and community assets. A sea-level rise, meanwhile, will affect coastal areas and river deltas. Accelerated glacial melt will affect the quantity and reliability of available water, and change patterns of flooding and drought. This is already happening in parts of Africa and the Middle East where there have been decades of political and religious unrest and endless war.
So it’s good thing we have an environmentally conscious President who takes climate change seriously. Kidding! Not only doesn’t Trump believe in climate change, his antipathy to science was made clear when he appointed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt eagerly took the reins of a department that he’d actively tried to destroy for years as Oklahoma Attorney General. After a series of self-inflicted scandals due to his affinity for spending taxpayer money on himself, Pruitt finally stepped down to, I assume, become a coal lobbyist or run for governor of his oil- and gas-producing state. Lucky for us, his EPA second in command, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal-industry lobbyist, seamlessly stepped in to finish the destruction Pruitt began. The systematic dismantling of President Obama’s environmentally progressive regulations will continue, one lawsuit at a time.
Trump believes that while climate change is no longer a hoax (for now), weather patterns will likely return to what they were. On 60 Minutes, he claimed climate change is not to be believed because thousands of scientists are politically motivated. It’s rigged!
“…I think something’s happening. Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made. I will say this. I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t want to be put at a disadvantage.”
“But it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over a million … years. They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.”
Trump is either completely ignorant as to how data is gathered (yes), a supreme narcissist (yes), or both (yes). For the record, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide an objective source of scientific information. I’m pretty sure it is not a cabal of Left Wing Antifa Eco-Warrior Scientists hellbent on ending Trump’s presidency.
He’s an ignorant, defiant, insecure president surrounded by anti-science men beholden to the oil and gas industry that financially supports them. Trump and his gasbag bros live in a 1950s world where coal is king, two gas-guzzlers in the driveway, and women expected to be silent and dress like a woman, all the while ignoring every hurricane season, and those all-too-frequent California wildfires, and global droughts, and melting Arctic icecaps, and rising sea levels. If you are not busy and live on the Eastern Seaboard, come over to my place and we can start to build our Ark.
Burke’s Law Podcast is coming! Stay tuned for Elizabeth Burke and Leonard Jacobs breaking down Arts and Politics each month