Call it a snowball effect, a dirty snowball effect to be more precise. The human-generated warming of Earth creates conditions that increase the degradation of our planet.
At the first of October, Sci-Tech Daily reported, “Warming oceans cause fewer bright clouds to reflect sunlight into space, admitting even more energy into earth’s climate system.Warming ocean waters have caused a drop in the brightness of the Earth, according to a new study.
“Researchers used decades of measurements of earthshine — the light reflected from Earth that illuminates the surface of the Moon — as well as satellite measurements to find that there has been a significant drop in Earth’s reflectance, or albedo, over the past two decades.”
The result is that the Sun increases the temperature inside what Texas environmentalist George Russell calls “God’s Greenhouse.”
Too much heat kills living things.
About four decades ago, another Texas environmentalist pal, Jim Bush, nursed and babied several cold frames full of Burford hollies through the winter only to lose them all when a sudden hot spell while he was away caught his holly tender off-guard. Burnt to a crisp – metaphorically speaking.
Representatives from 200 countries met in Glasgow at the first of the month for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, ostensibly to prevent the same thing happening to living things inhabiting Earth.
The BBC reported that these countries will be “asked for their plans to cut emissions by 2030. They all agreed in 2015 to make changes to keep global warming ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels – and to try to aim for 1.5C – so that we avoid a climate catastrophe.”
The very meeting acknowledges the scientific evidence of global warming, human generation of this warming and such “extreme weather events linked to climate change – including heat waves, floods and forest fires.”
But, whether the meeting generates more than hot air from its participants remains to be seen. Prior to a climate conference in Italy last month, Swedish climate canary Greta Thunberg expressed logical skepticism about the commitment of world leaders to making the changes needed to mitigate global heating.
“Thirty years of blah, blah, blah,” Thunberg told the opening session of a Youth4Climate event, as reported by Reuters.
“So-called leaders have cherry picked young people to meetings like this to pretend they are listening to us, but they are not listening….There is no planet B … Change is not only possible but necessary, but not if we go on like we have until today.”
Later, she added, “We need public pressure, not just summits.”
For example, in September, President Joe Biden – who planned to attend COP 26 – stressed an “’urgent’ need to address climate change at major economies forum.” – NBC News.
A few days later Huffington Post noted “Biden pledges to double U.S. climate aid. It is still a fraction of what’s needed. Even if the president persuades Congress to fund his proposal, it’ll still be less per year than what the U.S. spends on a single aircraft carrier.”
Also in September, Ivana Kottasová of CNN reported that, “Not a single G20 country is in line with the Paris Agreement on climate.”
Her CNN compatriot Rachel Ramirez elucidated: “Scientists have said that the planet needs to slash 45 percent of its emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. But under current emissions commitments from countries there will be a 16 percent increase in emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels,” according to a report on global emissions targets by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“That would lead the planet to warm to 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the report says.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the planet’s current trajectory “catastrophic.” Emma Howard Byrd, chair of the UK’s Environmental Agency, was just as blunt: “adapt or die.”
At mid-month, an Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, saw 2,000 representatives from 60 countries discuss the warming of the north polar region.
Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, “emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the fight against climate change and its negative impact on the Arctic in an address at the opening of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik,” according to Iceland’s RUV TV station.
“We need to take immediate action to respond to climate change in the Arctic,” Katrín said. “ If the measures are not ambitious and carried out in good cooperation, there is a risk of serious consequences for our ecosystems and communities in the Arctic and beyond. ”
In fact, at October’s end, RUV was reporting that Harthur Arnason, CEO of Iceland’s national power company, was saying, “We are very well suited to become the first country to get rid of fossil fuels and we would save 50 to 100 billion a year in fuel imports.”
Icelandic media provide daily reports on local volcanic eruptions and the disruptions they cause. At mid-month, Volcano Discovery listed 27 erupting volcanoes, another dozen with minor activity – though “minor” might be a disputable term for those directly affected.
La Palma in the Canary Islands has been receiving most of the attention, but Hawaii’s Kilauea, Mexico’s Popocatépetl and Italy’s Etna and Stromboli are familiar names in the active volcanic world. Even Mt. Erebus in Antarctica is belching deadly gases and a lot of hot air into the atmosphere.
Oil and gas production occurs in 32 states. One of the by-products of the process, at well sites and refineries, is the flaring of natural gas. Lots of hot air there.
And, since it is no longer safe – or practicable in the sidewalk-less world we have created – for small children to walk or ride bikes to school, elementary and junior high schools across the country witness long queues of vehicles puffing hot air pollution into the atmosphere.
So, “Planet Eden” another of George Russell’s sobriquets for the only world we have, already has more than enough hot air rising into the heavens. We don’t need any more coming out of Glasgow. We need more than resolutions. We need the resolution to take action to keep Earth habitable.
But, don’t count it.
The haphazard response by the world’s nations to the COVID-19 pandemic (and deliberately deadly decisions by our former president and others of his ilk) shows that humanity lacks the will to combat global warming.
Somebody might lose a nickel in the process.
The COP 26 climate conference was in Scotland. In June Caroline Rance, of Friends of the Earth Scotland pointed out the “obscenity” of Scottish plans for a new oil field. “If ministers are serious about facing up to the climate crisis,” she said, “they must end their support for climate wrecking fossil fuels at home and abroad.”
The United States’ official envoy to the conference John Kerry told the BBC the Glasgow confab is the “last best hope for the world to get its act together.”
Don’t count on it. Count on short-term profits instead.
In mid-October, Canada’s CTV News reported, “Mexico’s government claimed Tuesday that it is leading a transition to more renewable energy, even though President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pushing to restrict private wind and solar projects.”
Talk is cheap.
Many of our biggest banks have touted their commitment to climate concerns. But, in April, Raw Story looked behind the curtain: “Yes, nearly all of the country’s biggest banks have now committed to achieve ‘net-zero’ climate emissions by 2050. But, at the same time, those same banks are continuing to loan trillions to the companies most responsible for causing climate change.”
A quick spurt of positive publicity, followed by business as usual.
In October the BBC asked, “Can you stop Norway drilling the oil that made it rich?” And then provided the answer: “Norway’s oil and gas sector will not be dismantled, new government says.”
A month earlier CNBC reported: ” As world leaders prepare for one of the most important climate summits ever held, U.N.-backed research shows governments are collectively planning to extract far more fossil fuels than would be consistent with global climate targets.”
These actions – shouting louder than any patronizing palaver – reflect an unflattering inflexibility to ride the Flux that guides the world.
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech, put it succinctly, according to Daily Kos: “We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”
World civilization is driven by greed. The countries encourage and condone it to fill their own coffers. Sometimes the evidence screams even louder.
Just before the Glasgow meeting, Democracy Now reported on the work of investigative journalist Daniel Boguslaw: “As Senator Joe Manchin demands Democrats drop critical climate funding to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants with renewable energy sources, investigative reporting into the financial dealings of Manchin reveals that he has profited over $4.5 million from investments in West Virginia coal companies since he became a U.S. senator. ”I’m not sure if economist and New York Times contributor Paul Krugman was being ironic when he tweeted: “Future historians — if there are any future historians, that is, if civilization doesn’t collapse — will be astonished that we let the planet burn for the sake of an industry that employs less than 3 percent of workers even in West Virginia ”Obviously, it’s not those three percent who matter to Sen. Manchin. What matters is using his office to protect his own polluted profits – at the expense of only the entire planet. What a legacy. And, last year, the BBC informs us, on this planet, stricken by a pandemic that shuttered offices, businesses and many industries, temporarily if not permanently, “The build-up of warming gases in the atmosphere rose to record levels in 2020, according to the World Meteorological Organization.“ The amounts of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide rose by more than the annual average in the past 10 years.” And, of course, foolish fossil fuelers are cranking up production as people continue to ignore the pandemic. That inaction is the template for the lack of commitment to reduce global warming. In April, the International Energy Agency called for, “a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies.” But when one person can thwart those efforts and when that person is allied with the richest and dirtiest corporations in the world, the forecast for future generations is hot and getting hotter. Earth’s reflective powers are dimming because of the dimming of the intellectual capacity of its most dominant inhabitants.
In August, discussing governmental inactions that led to the despoliation of the Mar Menor, a saltwater lagoon on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Carme Vinyoles Casas, writing for El Punt Avui+ drew the obvious conclusion in “the battle between ecology and income statement. ”In the end, she observes, “both lose, because without life there is no business.”
(Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)