I’m getting tired of hearing people say: “We can still fix this.”
They say it as if climate change is still around the corner, still something that might happen, or still something we can tolerate.
- How is 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Sacramento for you?
- One third of Pakistan is under water, and over 1,300 dead have been counted so far.
- Rivers are drying up: The Colorado in the US, the Rhine in Germany, the Po in Italy, the Yangtze in China.
- So-called “heat waves” are becoming the “new summer weather,” and ninety degrees is becoming a cool-down.
- Oh, and the Thwaites glacier, also known as the doomsday glacier, is said to be hanging by a thread.
How much more has to happen before we admit that we humans have fucked it up? Climate change is here. It is getting worse. We don’t have time. We are in what Martin Luther King called the fierce urgency of now.
Except… no one is acting urgently. We keep burning stuff. We keep saying all we have to do is consume a little less. We keep fooling ourselves into the lie that there is still time.
Time is out. Our world is changing. We are screwed.
Yet this is also a flippant and unacceptable response. It is fatalistic, passive, and demotivating. Indeed, it is suicidal for the species. It is a death knell for life on Earth.
We need to act and we need to act now.
The only way we can do this is to stop burning stuff — oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, natural gas, wood, or biomass. The cause of climate change is burning stuff. Solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and hydropower are our only alternatives for electricity. We also have geothermal for heating and cooling.
Each of us needs to do all we possibly can with the situation we have, but the key is this: Systems must change! We need to make everything run on electricity, and that electricity must come from non-burning sources. Every electric company must invest in these sources now! Every city needs to plan to replace natural gas with geothermal heating and cooling. The entire auto and truck industry has to convert to electric vehicles, which it is doing, but too slowly. We need to bring an end to all smokestack industry and turn it all into electric — including steel, aluminum, oil refining, chemicals, and food processing. And we need to shame every business that is not doing its part to change and participate in the new system. Such businesses are irresponsible laggards, and it is time to call out each one individually. Unfortunately, almost all of them are laggards!
Here’s a checklist for businesses:
- Have you subscribed your electricity to a non-burning source like a community solar garden or wind farm?
- Have you replaced building heat with a non-burning source like solar electric or geothermal?
- Have you replaced industrial equipment that burns fuel with equipment that runs on electricity?
- Are you using electric transportation like EVs, whether cars, buses, or trucks?
- Have you committed the resources in your control, such as rooftops or land, to solar or wind-powered electric production?
- Are you forcing your suppliers to meet the same rigorous standards?
Any business that is not doing these things must be called out as a laggard, a destroyer of life, and an irresponsible business from whom no one should buy. Simply doing rooftop solar isn’t enough. Neither is an incremental ten-year plan. We need the changes, and we need them now.
This is the time for everyone to dig deep into their pockets and make the investments. It is time because we are out of time. Climate change is happening much faster than scientists expected; that’s why these bad effects are already here.
And worse effects are to come.
What are those? The melting of that Thwaites glacier that is hanging by a thread…? Yeah, that one. It could raise sea levels by ten feet. Think about what happens on the coasts when a hurricane brings in a surge of 4 or 6 feet. It is devastating, but at least it goes away. Ten feet is huge. And it won’t go away.
What happens when 116 degrees in Sacramento lasts not for a week, but an entire summer? California barely got by without major blackouts this time. How do we expect people to survive without air conditioning when it is too hot for their bodies to cool off? And the same trends are happening in Europe, India, and China.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, some towns have not had water running from their taps for over fifty days. The reservoirs are dry after a seven-year drought. A handful of government-built homes still have water, and people line up at those homes at night to steal the water. Can you imagine what happens when the 40 million people who get their water from the Colorado River have their taps run dry?
People will write in comments that this is fear-mongering hysteria. Friends, it is not. All these things are actually happening today! If you are fortunate enough to not be facing it yourself yet, let that not be an excuse to pretend what is real is not happening. The chaos is coming unless we ALL do what we must.
So, one question to leave you with: What are you going to do today?
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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