Dear Friends: Time For Climate Action
Dear friends, especially in America:
With the Trump administration now in place, there are many reasons for concern. But I want to suggest that the deepest and most profound reason is climate change. 2016 was just announced to have been the warmest year ever measured. By many measures, this followed similar records set in 2014 and 2015. Since a picture is proverbially worth a thousand words, take a look at the graph for a moment.
So we know the world is warming. Yes, cold weather still happens, as our friends in Portland, Oregon will be able to confirm, and it will continue to happen for a long time yet. But we are experiencing a warming trend that has been going on for nearly five decades now.
And we can be confident that it will continue, since we know something else, too: we know that the physical properties of the so-called "greenhouse gases" are such that they cause warming in the atmosphere, oceans, and land as their concentrations grow. The science showing that goes back to 1859, and is integral to weather forecasting, so we all make frequent use of it. There is no reasonable doubt about it.
We also know that we are the cause of those increasing concentrations. There are several ways that we know this, but the simplest is basically just doing the accounting: for carbon dioxide, the main GHG, we emit about twice as much as the observed increase. And CO2 levels were pretty stable for many hundreds of thousands of years prior to the Industrial Revolution. There's more: changes in atmospheric oxygen and in the proportions of various carbon isotopes confirm that it is us who have created the more than 40% increase observed since preindustrial times.
And we know one last thing: that what we are doing is not in our own best interest. A reasonably stable climate is what allowed us to create agriculture. A destabilized climate will make it much harder to feed the nine billion mouths that will clamor for food by the end of this century. There are more reasons for concern, of course, but that's a fundamental one.
But in the face of this reality, the Trump administration reportedly intends to defund American participation in not only the Paris Accord, signed by most of the nations of the world just last year, but also in the Framework Convention underlying the Accord itself. American views and technical skill have been central to the work of the UNFCC and have deeply shaped the agreement that the Trump Administration now proposes to turn away from. The loss to the global fight to address climate change would be grave.
Nor, if public opinion polls are to be believed, does the government represent the people in this. For years, upwards of 60% of Americans have said that they are concerned about climate change, and would like to see action to address it. Yet this government--Administration and Legislature alike--are bent on the opposite course.
It is undemocratic--and deeply ironic, given that Mr. Trump claimed in his inaugural that he was handing back power to the people.
The first step in resisting this folly is to make it clear to our legislators and to Mr. Trump that we are not fooled by climate denialism and its industry shills, nor do we intend to accept the theft of our children's and grandchildren's future in the name of short-term profit.
Right now, you can make a 'down payment' on action by signing a petition online:
But the 'cheap grace' of such things isn't going to be enough. We need organization and ongoing involvement. Consider joining or even starting a branch of an action group such as Citizens Climate Lobby, or of 350.org. Their websites are here:
- Citizens' Climate Lobby - Political Will for a Livable World
Citizens' Climate Lobby creates the political will for a livable world. We empower individuals to experience breakthroughs exercising their personal and political power.
It must be admitted that we are partly to blame for the current disastrous situation. We knew the truth, most of us, but didn't do much about it, for the most part. We did what humans tend to do--put off dealing with the truly important in favor of the merely urgent. In that sense, we have got "the government we deserve".
But now the choice is clear. The current government will put us all in jeopardy. Time to act, or quit pretending that we care.