Judging by the way things are going, climate protesters like the students who are planning to demonstrate in front of Pasadena City Hall Friday will have to hit the streets not every other month but every week — maybe every day — before people begin realizing how much trouble we’re actually in when it comes to climate change.
The simple fact is there is more carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere today than at any point since human existence. If anyone thought it was hot last summer, temperatures are expected to continue climbing to 3.2 degrees Celsius (or 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, a United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, report states.
Remember, the goal is a 1.5 degree Celsius ceiling by 2030, but that doesn’t seem feasible now, considering only five of 20 members of G20 countries have set a date to reach net-zero emissions in the next decade. To reach and maintain 1.5 Celsius, the UNEP report states countries must reduce their emission by five times the current rates outlined in the Paris climate accords, which President Trump withdrew the United States from in 2017.
As it happens, G20 countries account for 78 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but only two of the five members countries that have set a date to reach net-zero emissions have created legislation to enforce those goals. And one member noticeably absent from the discussion, the United States, the world’s worst polluter, isn’t even participating in this global emission-reduction exercise.
According to the UN report, what’s needed now is not incremental change but “rapid and transformational action.”
In other words, not only should we be commending these brave and valiant youngsters for taking their future into their own hands, but joining them in the streets and demanding our leaders adopt a more urgent posture in finding and then implementing ways to help cool the Earth.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions — over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director. “This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They — and every city, region, business and individual — need to act now.”
World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas echoed those sentiments late last month.
“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Taalas. “We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.”
But even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris accords are implemented, “temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts,” according to UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report. “Collective ambition must increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade for the 1.5°C goal.”
“The jumps in the key gases measured in 2018 were all above the average for the last decade, showing action on the climate emergency to date is having no effect on the atmosphere. The WMO said the gap between targets and reality were both ‘glaring and growing,’” The Guardian reported.
Why these various developments in the most recent story on Earth’s ongoing climate change saga didn’t merit much if any coverage by the national, regional and local press is anyone’s guess.
What we do know is these dire developments didn’t escape the watchful eyes of our children, who will inherit a literally scorched Earth if something doesn’t change, and change quickly. They may not know when they are being snookered by adults and the mainstream media. But they know danger when they see it, and feel it, and apparently have the guts and brains to defend themselves against assured extinction.
When will we, the adults, be prepared to take to the streets to help save our planet?
For more on national strikes, visit strikewithus.org
For more on the Pasadena strike, visit pasadenaclimatestrike.com
For more on greenhouse gas concentration, visit https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/greenhouse-gas
For more on the UN report on climate change, visit