We’re Killing the Earth…And It’s Killing Us Back

Humans are not going to win a fight against the rest of the planet.

As the Washington Post explains, ignoring Climate Change won’t make it go away:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are doing…

…The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.

As nations are gathered for climate talks in Poland, the message of Wednesday’s report was unambiguous: When it comes to promises to begin cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, the world remains well off target.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” [Pols emphasis] United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference, where countries will wrestle with the ambitious goals they need to meet to sharply reduce carbon emissions in coming years.

As the World Health Organization explains, the damage we are doing to our planet is being reflected back upon us in turn:

A WHO report launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policy makers.

Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. [Pols emphasis] In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP…

…“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”

President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change (or, really, in science in general), so the United States is probably going to need a new President if it hopes to see action to mitigate the problem. Climate Change as a political issue has not generally driven people to the polls in large margins, but as more information like the above studies become widely available, that may shift.

Perhaps it is time we stop talking about “Climate Change” as something that is being done to the earth and start framing it according to the harm we are doing to each other. What we’re experiencing now is “Human Change.”

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  1. DENependent says:

    Years ago I gave a Republican the benefit of the doubt about dating him. (Mistake) He used an energy density argument to say that solar and wind were pointless and if we ever needed to move away from coal and oil it was to go nuclear. (He was also a racist and a bully, but that is not central to what I am talking about here.)

    What I wished I had asked was "What cost of fuel and cost of engineering do you prefer? Zero cost for the fuel and a modular design that can be installed as needed or fuels that cost money and mega engineering?"

    The great advantage of wind and solar (and maybe someday geothermal in more than a few isolated areas) is even at utility scale the installation is made up of smaller units. If one wind turbine or one solar panel has a problem it can be replaced without taking everything out of production and once designed the costs get spread out over lots of units. They can also be installed at an individual scale and prices are going to keep falling because of these economies of scale that just are not available for mega-projects.

  2. ZappateroZappatero says:

    John Hickenlooper. 

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