Get over it! The burning of carbon-based fuel to create energy must stop now. Honest science has been telling us for decades that we’re making the planet uninhabitable for mammals, our species and our children.
And the crisis is approaching much faster than originally projected, with potentially less than 12 years left to make major changes before the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere is so severe that even emergency action won’t avoid armageddon, the end of human society on earth.
In the past year, 13 federal departments and agencies have published reports verifying that the combustion of carbon-based fuels (primarily petroleum, coal and wood) was accumulating CO2 in the atmosphere at a dangerously accelerating rate.
The United Nations Climate Change Commission recently confirmed that global warming was occurring multiple times faster than projected. The massive Antarctic ice shelf is melting three times faster than projected. Glaciers on the Himalayas, European Alps, and in North America are rapidly disappearing.
The result, sea level is rising and causing numerous low-lying areas to be inundated. Temperatures, especially in the equatorial areas, are increasing rapidly causing water shortages and crop failures. Those whose food sources and livelihoods are threatened are fomenting government instability and mass migrations, most notably out of Central America and Northern Africa.
The humanitarian mandate to accommodate those starving millions, many of them women and children, is creating political chaos in the countries to the north that still, though temporarily, have water and food. Predicted radical weather gyrations are creating wildfires and flooding, threatening lives and bankrupting governments struggling to remediate the deluge of disasters.
Diseases, like Dengue Fever and others, unheard of in the temperate areas, are migrating from the parched portions of the planet, overstressing the ability to create and deliver treatment modalities.
As many as a million species of animals and insects are threatened by extinction. Some are as obvious as the starving polar bears, while others, such as humans, are less obvious but progressively more unavoidable.
Government must mandate a rapid transition, within the coming decade, away from petroleum powered vehicles and coal-fired electricity generation to the corresponding development of sustainable programs. Gov. Brown had and Gov. Newsom seems to have the needed courage at the state level, but national leadership is sorely lacking.
But we, individually can make a huge difference if we collectively take the actions available to us. Buy an electric car or use transit. Install solar panels or demand that your rental property owner do so. Retrofit your fireplace or make it into a planter box.
Each of those actions and others are within your power. They’re supported by tax incentives, will save you funding in the long run, and will help save the planet.
We can’t wait! The time for action is now. In 12 years, it will be too late. To do less than all that’s possible now is tantamount to societal suicide as we each contribute to the termination of humankind, the end of our children’s viability on earth.
Rod Diridon, Sr. is the past chair of the Transit Cooperative Research Board of the National Research Council, past chair of the national Council of University Transportation Centers and past chair of the American Public Transportation Association.