The report released last Friday by 13 U.S. government agencies concurring in an assessment that the effects of climate change will result in a 10 percent decline in the U.S. gross national product and the loss of $1 trillion in real estate by the year 2100 is sobering — if not depressing — and should be a wake-up call to our elected officials to take action immediately to lead the world in reversing the effects of man-made contributions to climate change.
The U.S. report comes on the heels of a similar study released by the United Nations two months previously that essentially stated that we are reaching a point of no return with climate change — that even if the goals set by the Paris accords (from which the U.S. withdrew) are met, they probably are not sufficient to halt the deterioration in our environment and the negative effects of climate change.
In addition, there were two big stories in the New York Times this weekend about climate issues.
The first story detailed the ever-increasing use of coal in third world countries such as Vietnam, India, and Pakistan to generate electricity. Coal production is a dying industry in the U.S. and other Western nations, but its low price and availability in third world countries, including China, has made it the fuel of choice in the undeveloped world.
Even those who refuse to accept the science of climate change will admit that coal plants contribute greatly to air and water pollution — and the multitude of new plants in Asia will have effects on our country even from half a world away.
The second story pointed out that the palm oil industry is destroying the rain-forests in Indonesia — with the result that 35 times more carbon is being released into the world’s atmosphere than from all other sources combined.
We don’t pretend to be experts on anything, but, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, we don’t need a scientist to tell us which way our climate is heading.
The evidence of the past 12 years of unprecedented climate events: Superstorms Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Maria, and Michael; the past few years of destructive wild fires in California; the loss of sea ice in the Arctic; and the destruction of coral reefs because of warming ocean temperatures — is right in front of us and brought into our living rooms almost on a daily basis
Hopefully, the ubiquity of these catastrophic climate events is not numbing us into a sense of unreality such that we fail to see the big picture.
A report prepared by scientists hired by the oil industry in the 1960s predicted that carbon dioxide emissions would cause global warming with catastrophic effects — and a study commissioned a decade later by none other than Exxon confirmed those findings.
In our view, climate change is happening faster than even the worst-case scenarios of the past and present have predicted — and with the window to take action rapidly closing, we are not optimistic about the fate of our planet.