As fire has been continuing to consume much of Australia, the latest update 0n Jan. 20 described 40,000 square miles, about the equivalent of the state of Ohio, having burned since the many blazes …
As fire has been continuing to consume much of Australia, the latest update 0n Jan. 20 described 40,000 square miles, about the equivalent of the state of Ohio, having burned since the many blazes began along in September and joined forces. That’s considerably more than the area of land that burned during 2019’s devastating Amazon rainforest fires and around 100 times larger than the total area burned in the 2019 California wildfires.
According to one expert, if it’s in Canada, California, Greece, Portugal or Australia, “this portends what we can expect”—not a “new normal” but a “downward spiral,” in the words of another climate expert.
It must be the equivalent of mid-summer down there in the southern hemisphere.
The Australian continent is almost identical in size to the lower continental 48 states of the U.S. (excluding Alaska). Untold millions of native creatures have perished in the flames. Fire-fighters have flown to the scene from the U.S. (Only 90 more years until you’re my age, Simon. Presuming humankind survives, however, you quite possibly will have lost a grandson in some battle over fresh water. The winter snow packs and aquifers should have all but disappeared in many areas, temperatures risen disastrously, foodstuffs of all manner diminished.)
Meanwhile back here in 2020, we’ve just had the world’s hottest decade on record. You were counting on seeing nine decades, Simon, but there’s some serious doubt about that.
Findings released by NASA and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Oceanic Administration) show 2019 to have been the second-hottest on record, trailing only 2016. The last five years each rank above among the five hottest since record keeping began. Some 19 of the hottest 20 years have occurred during the last two decades.
SO WHAT’S NEXT? Humans are continuing to emit 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. (Just a single 10 billion tons equals 20,000,000,000,ooo pounds, by way of visual example.)
The Washington Post recently noted that leaders of nations around the world have vowed to try to limit the Earth’s warming to no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels in an effort to stave off catastrophic sea level rise, extremely increasing weather episodes . . . but hitting that line would require a rapid, transformational shift away from fossil fuels that has yet to materialize.
Donald Trump, for instance, is not aboard—and shows no sign of ever being so. He has announced withdrawal of the U.S. from the only major multi-nation effort to save the planet, the Paris Accord. As of May 2019, a total of 194 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement. 186 states and the EU, representing almost 97% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified or acceded to the Agreement, including China, the United States (which has notified the UN of its decision to withdraw from the agreement) and India, the countries with three of the four largest greenhouse gas emissions of the UNFCC members (totaling about 42% together).
“You have not seen anything yet,” 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden said Friday as she marched with 10,000 protestors in Lausanne, Switzerland—before heading on this week to Davos to challenge the global political and financial elite in fighting climate change. Thunberg is attending for the second time and is participating in two panel events.
Thunberg, who launched the #Fridays for Future movement that has sparked worldwide protests, continues to denounce a lack of government action to cut heat-trapping emissions before it is too late. She says: “We have entered a new decade and so far, during this decade, we have seen no change whatsoever that real climate action is coming and that has to change . . . you have not seen the last of us. And that is the message we will bring to the World Economic Forum in Davos.”
The federal 9th District Court of Appeals Jan. 17 dismissed a lawsuit by 21 young people who claim the national government’s policies and reliance on fossil fuels are harmful to them, jeopardize their future and violate their constitutional rights. The court wrote that the youngsters made a compelling case that action is needed and agreed that climate change is undeniable, but said the proper venue for addressing the nation’s emission policies and fossil fuel use is the U.S, Congress or the executive branch.
That would be—let’s see—Donald Trump and/or a Congress including a Republican Senate headed by Trump lapdog McConnell. Our only true choice appears to be the coming 2020 election.