In the present information age, many have come to realize that climate change denial is an organized effort supported by fossil fuel lobbies, the Koch brothers, and conservative think tanks. Drill into the opposition research and we discover it’s underwritten by industries that oppose the regulation of CO2 emissions, the byproduct of their financial and political ambitions. Always!
But don’t accept my word. Consider that 194 states and the European Union have signed the Paris Climate Agreement and that climatologists are in unanimous accord, less a minuscule percentage of paid detractors. Who else accepts the reality of climate change? A small sampling includes every branch of America’s armed forces, the Pentagon, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Geophysical Union, The American Medical Association, The Geological Society of America, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Those who wish to see a “handful of plucky billionaires foil a plot by a million scientists bent on ruining our lives by saving the planet” should take a moment and honestly reconsider what is at stake.
Extinction as a natural occurrence is one thing, a half-dozen species per year, but today’s rate of species loss is astronomical, literally thousands of times the normal historical rate. Nearly 70 percent of all known plant species, 33 percent of birds, 40 percent of honey bees, virtually all large primates, coral reefs and most sea life are at immediate risk. These figures offer a snapshot of a present, dynamic reality. Global temperatures are on a steady rise, as are sea levels, and we are witnessing increases in extreme weather events, arctic and rainforest fires, and over-harvested oceans chocking on islands of garbage. Our planet is tiny with less than a 4,000-mile radius. The atmosphere is a vapor that clings to the tree tops, thinner in relation to the earth than an onion’s skin. The byproducts of human industrialization and population growth, a geological blink, have altered earth’s environment far more than all natural occurrences during the previous 50 million years. In terms of our future, the likely scenario is grim.
The loss of honey bees, the planet’s most important species, means a loss of pollination for vital foods and flowers. The loss of birds means a horrific increase in insects and cessation of nature’s music. The loss of permafrost means a release of ancient bacteria. The destruction of old growth ecosystems, some older than human existence, exacts an incalculable cost on planetary health. The reality that will unfold in this century offers mass migrations from unlivable regions, severe food shortages, increases in violence, and a general collapse of order, already evident in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia where the World Bank estimates 143 million climate change-driven migrants over the next 30 years. We have reached the tipping point, and that is why I urge everyone to remove climate change denial from the political landscape and unite around informed counter measures.
It takes courage to challenge a local consensus, particularly absent direct experience of empty grocery shelves and untreatable illnesses, but beyond the political sphere the challenge of our times is to better understand and address climate change. For that I recommend our local libraries, including Copper Mountain College’s Greenleaf Library. Library personnel can open portals to unbiased and ethical research. I also recommend visiting with your neighbors at the Morongo Basin Conservation Association. Sharing doubts and raising questions is what we Americans do. I believe that we must give the benefit of our combined talents to saving the planet, for its own sake and that of our descendants.