To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Observercast

We Don’t Need More Hot Air

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The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks off Sunday in Glasgow. Representatives from 200 countries will be “asked for their plans to cut emissions by 2030,” according to the BBC. “They all agreed in 2015 to make changes to keep global warming ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels – and to try aim for 1.5C – so that we avoid a climate catastrophe.”

Those meeting acknowledge [or give lip service to] the scientific evidence of global warming, human generation of this warming and such “extreme weather events linked to climate change – including heat waves, floods and forest fires.”

Goals for cutting carbon emissions will be at the top of the agenda, with the BBC anticipating specific announcements, “making a faster switch to electric cars; speeding up the phasing out of coal power; cutting down fewer trees [and] protecting more people from the impacts of climate change, such as funding coastal defense systems.”

Prior to a climate conference in Italy last month, Swedish climate canary Greta Thunberg expressed logical skepticism about the commitment of world leaders to making the changes needed to mitigate global heating.

“Thirty years of blah, blah, blah,” Thunberg told the opening session of a Youth4Climate event, as reported by Reuters.

“So-called leaders have cherry picked young people to meetings like this to pretend they are listening to us, but they are not listening … There is no planet B … Change is not only possible but necessary, but not if we go on like we have until today.”

Last week she added, “We need public pressure, not just summits.”

For example, in September, President Joe Biden – who is planning to attend COP 26 –  stressed an “‘urgent’ need to address climate change at major economies forum.” – NBC News

A few days later Huffington Post noted “Biden pledges to double U.S. climate aid. It is still a fraction of what’s needed. Even if the president persuades Congress to fund his proposal, it’ll still be less per year than what the U.S. spends on a single aircraft carrier.”

Also in September, Ivana Kottasová of CNN reported that, “Not a single G20 country is in line with the Paris Agreement on climate.”

Her CNN compatriot Rachel Ramirez elucidated:

“Scientists have said that the planet needs to slash 45% of its emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. But under current emissions commitments from countries there will be a 16% increase in emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels,” according to a report on global emissions targets by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“That would lead the planet to warm to 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the report says.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the planet’s current trajectory “catastrophic.”

Emma Howard Byrd, chair of the UK’s Environmental Agency, was just as blunt: “adapt or die.”

At mid-month, an Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, saw 2,000 representatives from 60 countries discuss the warming of the north polar region.

Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, “emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the fight against climate change and its negative impact on the Arctic in an address at the opening of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik,” according to Iceland’s RUV TV station.

“We need to take immediate action to respond to climate change in the Arctic,” Katrín said. “ If the measures are not ambitious and carried out in good cooperation, there is a risk of serious consequences for our ecosystems and communities in the Arctic and beyond.”

At mid-month, Volcano Discovery listed 27 erupting volcanoes, another dozen with minor activity – though “minor” might be a disputable term for those directly affected.

La Palma in the Canary Islands has been receiving most of the publicity, but Hawaii’s Kilauea, Mexico’s Popocatépetl and Italy’s Etna and Stromboli are familiar names in the active volcanic world. Even Mt. Erebus in Antarctica is belching deadly gases and a lot of hot air into the atmosphere.

Oil and gas production occurs in 32 states. One of the by-products of the process, at well sites and refineries is the flaring of natural gas. Lots of hot air there.

And since it is no longer safe – or practicable in the sidewalk-less world we have created – for small children to walk or ride bikes to school, elementary and junior high across the country witness long queues of vehicles puffing hot air pollution into the atmosphere.

So, the “Planet Eden” of Texas environmentalist George Russell already has more than enough hot air rising into the heavens. We don’t need any more coming out of Glasgow next week. We need more than resolutions. We need the resolution to take action to keep Earth habitable.

This essay is part of The Oklahoma Observer’s participation in Covering Climate Now, an ongoing global journalism collaboration aimed at strengthening coverage of the climate story.

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Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.