By Huck Fairman
The changes to our planet from the increasing emissions and trapped heat are profound and everywhere. They are changing the oceans and continents. India’s billion-plus population is roasting, literally to death, without sufficient means to respond. Antarctica is seeing record temperatures, as is our Northwest. Parts of Texas have seen no rain for months. Rivers and lakes are drying up in our West. Wildfires have ravaged parts of France, Spain, and the Russian tundra. The fact is that the impacts of these changes are being experienced around the globe.
Former journalist at TIME, Eugene Linden, has written a book on not only where we are environmentally but where we went wrong. This story of FIRE & FLOOD begins in the late 1970s when fossil fuel industry scientists warned of the impending climate catastrophe with continued use of fossil fuels. But the industry itself set about denying this and spreading disinformation. In 1988, NASA scientist, Jim Hansen, testified at a Congressional hearing predicting catastrophe, but little was done. President George H.W. Bush promised to fight the greenhouse effect and yet, there too, little or nothing was done. One wonders if Al Gore had been elected vice president (at the time) whether wiser policies may have been proposed and adopted.
Linden observes that even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has allowed special interests to influence consensus and soften predictions. Some academic sources, Linden notes, downplayed the impacts of the coming changes, allowing renewable technologies to be pushed “to the fringes for several decades.” China, the leading emitter, continued, with its coal and oil industries to send billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Recently, our nation has reduced its emissions but still has “a ways to go” to reach healthy levels. Now, at least, there are more employees working on green technologies than in the coal industry. But is it too late? Since the late 1980s, Linden reminds us, we have “emitted more carbon dioxide than during all of previous human history.”
Many younger citizens have expressed their concern and the need to act. Greta Thunberg,
among others, has led in speaking out. Hopefully the new Biden Administration bill,
which includes climate initiatives, will help us begin to get control over the greenhouse
gases we emit. Moving around our town, on foot or bike, one cannot help but become aware of the noxious emissions from passing trucks, buses and some cars. At the same time, there are more and more electric cars, and maybe soon electric trucks and buses. But with the heat, and in many places, drought or flood, anyone paying attention to our weather and climate must wonder if we will – and can – act to control these trends and save our environments and civilization.