I learned a few terrifying bits of information from the March 5 episode of Chris Hayes’ excellent Why Is This Happening? podcast. It’s an interview with David Wallace-Wells, the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, a book which expands upon his July 2017 New York Magazine article, which begins:
It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.
- Half of all the carbon pollution in the atmosphere right now has been generated in the last 30 years, which means that in the time since Al Gore first started ringing alarm bells in Congress about the global catastrophe of climate change, we have done as much damage to the planet as we did in the previous 10,000 years of humankind.
- All the scary disaster scenarios of post-apocalyptic drought and famine and water wars and the end of civilization and living in Mad Max desolation were based on the Earth getting around 2° C hotter than it regularly was 30 years ago. We’re currently on track for the planet to be around 4° C hotter in just the next 80 years or so. That means if you have a child in elementary school right now — and we don’t make some dramatic changes very, very soon — he or she will easily live long enough to suffer terribly from the effects of our collective rape of nature.
- Remember that whole global kerfuffle around the United States “pulling out” of the Paris Climate Accord? The stated goal of those agreements was to hold global warming to 2° C. The changes that conference asked everyone to make would almost certainly – at best – keep us at around 3.2° C hotter than it is now. But as it stands, none of the major polluters (United States, China, India, Russia, et.al.) have actually done anything even remotely close to making any real progress towards even those insufficient goals.
There’s really no good news here. Stop using so much plastic. Try to conserve energy. And stop voting for people that like coal and don’t care about pollution and the environment. (e.g. Starting in 2011, President Obama tried to use the EPA’s powers under the Clean Air Act to fight carbon-dioxide emissions. After President Trump was elected, he terminated that effort by executive order.)
And maybe, just maybe, consider learning about the Green New Deal.