Our Opportunity In Paris
Updated 18 December 2015
The UN Conference on Global Warming in Paris is now over.
NYT Op-Ed Columnist Thomas Friedman, writing from Paris, wrote this at the end of the conference:
“I had low expectations for the U.N. climate meeting here and it met all of them — beautifully. I say that without cynicism.
“Any global conference that includes so many countries can’t be expected to agree on much more than the lowest common denominator. But the fact that the lowest common denominator is now so high — a willingness by 188 countries to offer plans to steadily and verifiably reduce their carbon emissions — means we still have a chance to meet what scientists say is our key challenge: to avoid the worst impacts of global warming that we cannot possibly manage and to manage those impacts that we can no longer avoid. That is a big, big deal.
“Hat’s off, because this keeps alive the hope of capping the earth’s warming to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 Fahrenheit, above the level that existed at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution — the rough redline scientists have drawn beyond which ‘global weirding’ will set in and the weather will most likely get really weird and unstable. We’re already almost halfway to passing that redline.
“The only important holdout in the world to this deal is the U.S. Republican Party. I wouldn’t care about such cave men — as one sign borne by a Paris demonstrator said, ‘Dinosaurs didn’t believe in climate change either,’ and it didn’t end well for them — except that one of these knuckleheads could be our next president and mess this up.”
Stopping global warming is the one thing which ordinary persons around the world are able to accomplish. Indeed, our support for the needed political action will be essential for it to be successful, if we can accelerate the plan that came out of the 2015 Paris meeting.
Leaders have already made great advances in many of the countries of the world in drafting their own national plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bringing them to the Paris meeting. Now it is time for the people not only to support these drafts but to demand they be improved and accelerated in meaningful ways now that the Paris accord has been adopted. For our leaders not to work toward that end (or work against it, as some are doing), I believe, constitutes political incompetence and the leaders dragging their feet should be removed from office. For more on this subject, see my blog posting dated 12 November 2015, “Two Birds — One Stone: A call for action.”
For an excellent and readily available background on global warming, I suggest a visiting with your mobile phone and/or computer to the CNN website two° and its three reports on the subject:
Of course, there is vociferous opposition to action on climate change amongst some conservative members of the U.S. Congress. This seems ass backwards to me.
As Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind, put it: “Nothing is more conservative than conservation.” President Ronald Reagan, after all, signed the Montreal Protocol, the most successful international environmental agreement to date.
In the 16 November 2015 Atlantic Magazine, Ted Halstad offered an apt criticism of the conservative anti-science stance on global warming, quoting noted conservative guru William F. Buckley, and offering a straightforward conservative solution to climate change. Halstad also pointed out that “… today’s Republican leadership views stewardship as incompatible with free enterprise and limited government. This is a shame, as the conservative canon could offer America a better climate solution than Obama’s Clean Power Plan.”
He outlined a conservative market-based approach that could probably pass both the House and Senate. Halstad’s article is titled, “The Republican Solution for Climate Change.” I urge everyone, especially conservative political leaders, to read it here or use this URL:
Several environmental organizations in the U.S. have initiated actions which citizens can take to demand their elected leaders to take appropriate measures and, if they don’t, pledge to vote against them in their next election.
You can take action by visiting two or three of the following websites:
350.org — Climate Change is About Power Enter your email address to get periodic updates about happenings in Paris and beyond. Go to their How to Help page for ways you can help with the effort, by sending automated notices to political leaders and taking additional actions.
Oil Change International is a good source of information about the campaign, especially on uncovering the true costs of fossil fuels and news about worldwide efforts to stop global warming. Here’s an excerpt from one of their web pages: “The controversial Keystone XL pipeline is dead; Exxon is being investigated for lying about climate change; Shell and Statoil have pulled out of the Alaska Arctic, and Obama has cancelled further Arctic leases.” “The new Premier of Alberta [Canada], Rachel Notley, announced a climate plan that will phase out coal for electricity by 2030, ramp up solar and wind to 30% by 2030, set a price on carbon of $30/ton as well as putting a cap on tar sands emissions of 100 million tonnes, compared to about 70 million today.”
Natural Resources Defense Council offers news and ways to help by adding your voice to the campaign to keep most of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground and to replace them with energy conservation (EE) and renewable energy (RE) sources. The latter, EE and RE, are excellent and thriving industries that will grow, providing new, good, jobs, with clean and productive working conditions. With some retraining, the new clean energy industrycan absorb most of the fossil fuel workforce laid off by declining production. Their Paris action web page gives news from Paris and a way to “Add Your Voice!”, including signing petitions to world leaders, tweeting on twitter, sharing on facebook, and understanding Paris. You even get to seem photos of cute baby polar bear cubs frolicking in the snow.
The Climate Reality Project, founded by Al Gore, offers ways you can “help power the revolution for climate action.” These include suggestions for ways to “Get Smart, Get Loud, Get Active.” They include putting a graphic “The Age of Carbon is Over” on your facebook page, with a link for sharing it “if you’re ready to move on to renewables.” There’s a video titled “Dear World Leaders” which you can watch and share on facebook and twitter. This link also provides a list of bullets and short paragraphs for each describing the need to act on climate change and how we can solve climate change. “The stars are aligning toward a Paris agreement.” — Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC
The Post Carbon Institute was founded in 2003, its mission to provide individuals and communities with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, and ecological crises of the 21st century. It envisions a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds. Its web site mostly offers information about this process. In its PCI Messenger for November 2015, it provided this perspective on the Paris climate talks: “The… talks commenced today with strong rhetoric and measured optimism that international efforts to mitigate climate change will finally begin in earnest. But it’s likely that whatever agreements are reached won’t be sufficient to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius and — if recent bills in Congress to kill Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan and block US contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund are any indication — will still face strong political opposition. For these and many other reasons, it’s clear that individuals and communities must continue to blaze the trail through efforts like building community resilience, shifting consumer behavior, and leading by example. With that in mind this month we bring you a new report, Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience, drawing together the latest thinking in the field from experts and innovators in the field.”
Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1968 by faculty and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Appalled at how the U.S. government was misusing science, the UCS founders drafted a statement calling for scientific research to be directed away from military technologies and toward solving pressing environmental and social problems. The organization remains true to that founding vision today. By mobilizing scientists and combining their voices with those of advocates, educators, business people, and other concerned citizens, UCS has built a reputation for fairness and accuracy, which it applies to a variety of public issues today, including especially energy-related policy issues and the likely consequences of the current global warming trend. Their web site offers expertise on a variety of environmental issues, including clean energy, clean vehicles, food & agriculture, global warming, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons. Their blog has a 23 November article by UCS president Kim Kimmel on the Paris Climate Summit: Our Last, Best Chance to Save the Planet?
James E. Hansen’s web site offers information, presentations, a TED talk, and other details on climate change from this pre-eminent climate scientist, recently retired from NASA in order to be more politically active.
Updating the Climate Science is a somewhat detailed science site created by Hansen and currently maintained by Kakiko Sato at Columbia University that seeks to answer the question, “What Path is the Real World Following?” There are sections with links to publications on these subjects: Critical Climate Diagnostics and Feedbacks; Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions and Energy Use; and Climate Forcings.
Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization (SEPS) is primarily a U.S. organization focused on U.S. legislation, policies, and action dealing with the environmental issues accompanying overpopulation. In 2012, a strong alliance was formed with outstanding Canadian scientists having similar concerns. These include overpopulation pressures driving global warming and other adverse environmental consequences.