Living Like There is No Tomorrow II

Several months ago I lost what I thought was a long time friend when I posted a comment on our seeming willingness to destroy the only planet on which we may currently live. I’m still baffled that this issue is controversial, especially so controversial that it ends friendships. How can anyone not be concerned about clean air, clean water, and leaving a stable environment for our children?

I just can’t seem to let this topic go. Guess I’ll jeopardize more friendships.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a non-partisan arm of the United States Congress that audits and evaluates government programs. GAO audits how the government spends money, among other functions. A few days ago a report from the GAO further validated my earlier post expressing concerns regarding the environment. This report recommends taking climate change seriously and finding ways to address it because failure to do so will result in consistently increasing costs passed on to the taxpayers. Extreme weather likely resulting from a changing climate, says the report, has already cost billions of dollars during the last decade and will cost much more in the future.

And GAO isn’t the only agency reaching this conclusion. Most American scientific research on the topic has been conducted by NASA, and that agency reports that global temperatures have increased by 2 degrees since the late 19th century, that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at their highest level in 650,000 years, and that arctic ice is shrinking by 13.2% per decade. NASA also calculates that there is a greater than 95% probability human activity is causing this drastic change.

And even the U.S. Military is concerned about  and preparing for national security related issues related to climate change. A 2014 report by The Military Advisory Board which is composed of 16 retired flag-level officers from the various branches of the military wrote that “The potential security ramifications of global climate change should be serving as catalysts for cooperation and change. Instead, climate change impacts are already accelerating instability in vulnerable areas of the world and are serving as catalysts for conflict.” 

Did you know that large portions of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are already dead because of rising ocean water temperatures? This is occurring about 30 years earlier than scientists had predicted.

Did you know that about 40% of animal and plant species that are tied to a specific geographic range have shifted more during the last 30 years than at any time in the last 10,000 years? They are being forced to move because they are dependent on certain temperatures, rainfall, and other environmental factors, and the acceptable range is shifting.

Did you know that plants rely on “seasonal cues” in the spring and fall that determine when they begin to grow or go dormant, and that during the last 30-40 years many plant species have begun taking their seasonal cues from 15 to 20 days early?

Did you know that warming temperatures could extend the range for mosquitoes thus making the spread of mosquito-borne disease more likely? It is possible that last year’s spread of the zika virus to 23 countries was an early example of what our future holds.

The Intergovernmental Panel on  Climate Change is composed of hundreds of scientists across the planet and the Panel releases a report on climate change every few years assessing literature on climate change. The last report was released in 2014 (the next will be released in 2021 or so) and analyzed more than 30,000 scholarly papers on climate change. The report, written by 800 authors, concluded that “human influence on climate change is clear”, and that we “have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future”.

These facts are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community. They are primarily rejected only by corporations and others benefitting from the status quo. Sure, it is possible to find “reports” debunking these conclusion, but close attention to the sources of those rebuttals is important. How many of those reports concluding that climate change isn’t real are published in academic journals and withstood a rigorous approval process prior to publication?

And even if the scientists are wrong, why is promoting a clean environment a bad idea?

And even if the scientists are wrong shouldn’t we err on the side of caution if our children’s future may be in the balance?

Those opposing governmental action often argue that switching to renewable energy would have a detrimental impact on our economy. The truth is that more jobs are created by converting to renewable energy than by continuing to use fossil fuel. It is estimated that three times more energy-related jobs would be created by 2025 if we moved toward renewable energy. Moving away from coal and natural gas would also reduce “breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer” associated with fossil fuels.

Oh, and that GAO report I mentioned earlier? It strongly recommended specifically that the Trump administration immediately begin formulating a serious response to this threat. A logical response is supporting renewable energy and moving away from fossil fuels.

But if you want to know what the Trump administration has actually done regarding the environment you can read this article released yesterday by National Geographic. I doubt you will be surprised.

No other issue facing the human race is as significant as is this.