So, what’s our next step?
In his recent letter to the editor (Sunday, January 20th), Dick McBride stated that there was “no guarantee” humans will survive the devastation being caused by climate change/ global warming.” According to the NASA Goddard Institute and 97 percent of scientists engaged in climate studies, the major cause of global warming is human activity. So, the debate is over. Now, the question is, can we mobilize quickly enough to do something about it.
Let’s start by briefly looking at The Paris Climate Agreement (Paris Accord) which is designed to unite 197 countries in a combined effort to 1) limit greenhouse gas emissions, the major cause of global warming, to a safe level, 2) hold each country in the world accountable for making their fair contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, and3) help poorer nations adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy. The ramifications of these actions are huge. But some scientists say that even more is needed. Greenpeace stated that these efforts so far “won’t get us out of the hole but will make the sides less steep.”
Today, it’s been proven that the largest contributors to global warming are the U.S. and China, and the major cause is over-reliance on fossil fuels. While many countries are making great efforts to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, our present administration has turned its back on reductions and threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement. President Trump and his appointees continue to promote the use of coal, oil and gas even as the world warms up at an untenable rate. During the past fiscal year penalties for polluters has plummeted 85 percent (Washington Post, Jan. 24). In addition, the US government has rolled back a large number of crucial environmentally favorable rules made by the Obama and earlier administrations. Our generation and the ones to follow will pay the price with increased health issues, including illnesses due to harmful air pollutants and allergens leading to diminished lung functions and, for some, shortened life spans (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Presently, as Arctic ice caps melt, seas are rising and overtaking coastal towns. Hurricanes strengthen, flooding inland cities with heavier and heavier rains. Heatwaves lengthen and increase in frequency leading to droughts that result in more destructive wildfires.
Still, there are reasons for hope. Despite threats from the Trump administration, we remain a member of the Paris Accord. Also, European countries are making major steps in the use of green (renewable) energy such as wind and solar. Locally, we have to look only as far as Georgetown’s success where their Republican mayor has championed the change to 100 percent renewable energy, something we should all be aiming for. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, younger generations are energized and have demonstrated that they care deeply about taking the steps necessary to halt global warming.
So, what’s our next step? We must let our present government know that we don’t like the direction it has taken in undercutting and blunting environmental protection rules. We should demand that people appointed to agencies such as the EPA are qualified and care deeply about the future of our environment. (That means we must speak out against the appointment of Andrew Wheeler, a former executive and lobbyist for the coal industry, as permanent head of the EPA.)
Right now, we are approaching the tipping point and cannot afford to be passive observers. You can start by selecting an issue or two that you care most about, learn more about it and get involved. It’s critically important to share your concerns with local, state and national representatives through phone calls, emails and letters. And do it now because Global Warming is not going to wait for us.