Do We Care?

In his book, Losing Earth A Recent History, Nathaniel Rich lays out a forty-year history of the United States government knowing about global Climate Change and actively doing nothing to mitigate it. We’ve had six Presidents during this period. Since the Reagan Presidency, there have been hundreds of national and world conferences for the discussion of the effects of climate change. There have been dozens of Congressional hearings since the late nineteen seventies regarding this matter.  

         Today, 97% of the world’s leading climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and that humans are the greatest cause. The 10 warmest years on record, out of the last 139 years, have occurred since 2005. July 2019 was the hottest month on record for the planet. 18 American Scientific Societies (private, intergovernmental and governmental) agree that climate change is occurring.

         194 countries have signed the Paris Climate Agreement. On 1 June 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement. President Trump has proclaimed climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

         Every country in the world contributes to the emission of carbon dioxide. It’s interesting to see who contributes the most CO2. In 2016 China was number 1, emitting 9056 metric tons of CO2. India was number 3, emitting 2076 metric tons. The United States was number 2, emitting 4876 metric tons. The most striking numbers for these measurements are addressed in population numbers. China has 1.433 billion people or 18.1 % of the world’s population. India has 1.366 billion people or 17.5% of the world’s population. The United states has 329,060 million people, 4.26% of the world’s population. The United states has approximately 24% of the population of India and they produce 58% less carbon dioxide than we do.

Okay, maybe that is a bunch of mind-numbing numbers. Maybe our eyes glaze over and we yawn when we hear them. But there is no way a rational person can deny the facts. And yet, effectively we have done so for at least the last forty years, and we continue that posture today.

Our planet grows hotter every year. It accelerates in warming because we continue to emit larger and larger amounts of CO2 and methane. Those of us that are in the later stages of our lives will likely never see the most devastating effects of our lack of desire (insert courage) to take the action to reverse our planets destiny. My adult children will live long enough to see the effects, my grandchildren will live daily with its most serious consequences. My great-grandchildren may not have an inhabitable planet.

         I heard someone yesterday say, “if we have free will as humans, we must take responsibility for what we do and for what we fail to do.”

         Economist Thomas Waltz of the National Climate Program attended a 1980 U S National conference on climate change. He listened for hours as other attendees debated language for the final report. Arguments about using will occur, highly likely to occur, almost sure, almost surely and almost certain. Out of frustration, Thomas Waltz stood and said – “The question is fundamental to being a human being. DO WE CARE? The meeting ended with a final report which provided no policy proposals. We are now 39 years later. We still have no policy.

         The answer to the question Mr. Waltz proposed 39 years ago now seems clear. We Don’t Care.

         The Iroquois people had a tradition of looking forward seven generations when making important decisions. Most credible climate scientists believe in seven generations we won’t have an inhabitable planet if we fail to act now.  We must each ask ourselves that fundamental question “Do I care?”

Go well, David

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