That’s how Greta Thunberg described the UN climate summit in Glasgow. Actually, the participating nations agreed to attack methane and halve the rate of deforestation by 2030. And we can celebrate Governor Inslee’s announcements that Washington will electrify 40 % of our state’s vehicle fleet by 2025 (100 percent by 2040) and ban new gas car sales by 2030.
Nations also promised to “phase down unabated coal power.” Unfortunately, they didn’t set a timeline for doing so. They also failed to address equity or help poorer nations which aren’t responsible for this mess. Richer nations had promised in the 2015 Paris accords to provide $100 billion annually for poorer nations struggling to adapt to the climate crisis. Instead, the International Monetary Fund says, they subsidized by $5.9 trillion in 2020 alone the production and burning of coal, oil and gas.
The Earth is Sacred, Not Ours to Wreck
Temperatures and the existing levels of carbon in the atmosphere aren’t going to decrease for decades regardless of what changes we make. The best possible outcome is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’re currently at 1.1 degrees. But CO2 emissions continue to increase, and we’re on track to hit 2.4 degrees.
Thomas Friedman says that Gen Z (born 1997-2012) knows that sticking to our business-as-usual trajectory could heat up the planet by the end of the century to levels no Homo sapiens have ever lived in. “Our fragile planet is hanging on by a thread,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. That’s why we can’t just give up and say, “It’s not my problem” or, “I’ll be dead by then.” Since there aren’t enough renewables to satisfy the growing demand for electricity, we’ll have to transition away from fossil fuels instead of going cold turkey.
All of us need to open our eyes and see what’s happening. Imagine parents watching their children starve because of drought. See the climate refugees and people of island nations and coastal communities threatened by rising seas. Hear the Upper Skagit Tribe as they long for their sacred lands and salmon lost to the dams and rising water temperatures. Notice those in vulnerable communities who can neither fortify their homes or move away from the fires or extreme heat. Remember those who died in this year’s record-shattering heat.
All of us must change the way we live. We must switch ASAP to renewable electricity and stop using natural gas. We must provide more insulation in our homes and switch to heat pumps and electricity for heating, cooling, and cooking. We must stop manufacturing steel and concrete. We must plant and, more importantly, preserve trees and forests. That includes kelp forests. Utilizing technology in new ways for capturing carbon in the air and “burying” it for eternity is critical, too.
We must protect the agricultural land used for growing our food and the water which crops require. We must eat more plants and consume less meat. We must… We must…
–submitted by Lon Dickerson