FRANK CARINI – We need to stop denying reality

FRANK CARINI – We need to stop denying reality

More than half of the carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels has been exhaled during the past three decades.

Since 1989, human activity has emitted 820 gigatons – a gigaton is equal to 1 billion metric tons, a metric ton is 2,205 pounds – of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels. Our carbon emissions total since 1751 is 1,578 gigatons, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In 1992, the United Nations ratified its climate-change framework, establishing a scientific consensus that prioritized the stabilization of greenhouse-gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.”

This means, as David Wallace-Wells writes in his 2019 book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” humans have “now engineered as much ruin knowingly as we ever managed in ignorance.”

That fact should hit us like a Muhammad Ali uppercut to the jaw. We should be staggering, our knees wobbling.

But you know what? We, collectively, don’t care.

Five years ago we learned that Exxon was aware of climate change as early as 1977. In the 1980s, both Exxon and Shell carried out internal assessments of the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuels, and forecast the planetary consequences of these emissions.

Yet, many of us still falsely label the climate crisis a “Chinese hoax.” Many of us believe it’s a scheme concocted by climate scientists to get rich. Some of us blame the wildfires raging in Australia on arsonists, and even if that were true, we ignore the fact that the wildfires there, here, and everywhere are burning faster, bigger, and longer because of all the climate-changing greenhouse gases we have been relentlessly pumping into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

We pay no mind to the melting Arctic ice because we don’t care if all the polar bears die. But we fail, collectively, to realize that less ice means less sunlight is reflected away from us and more is baked in by a steadily warming planet.

The oceans are absorbing much of this excess heat and accumulating greenhouse gases. They’re becoming acidified. The diversity of life they support is dwindling. Essentially, the planet’s lungs are beginning to fail. We shrug our collective shoulders. Local elected officials say there’s nothing we can do. The Justice Department works closely with the fossil-fuel industry to oppose climate lawsuits. The Department of Homeland Security lists environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the fossil-fuel industry as “extremists” and lists some of the activists alongside white nationalists and mass killers.

Besides altering ocean chemistry, in a manner that does little to promote human existence, and melting sea ice, our increasingly warming planet is also thawing Arctic permafrost, which, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon – more than twice as much as is currently suspended in Earth’s atmosphere.

The longer we allow this negative feedback loop to grow and intensify, the bleaker the future we leave for our descendants. The longer we deny reality, the less we leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

Frank Carini is editor and co-founder of ecoRI News, a news site dedicated to environmentalism and social justice. Visit www.ecoRI.org for more. Tom Ward is on vacation.

Comments

Mr. Carini must not have read "Climate Change, the Facts" edited by Alan Moran. First, the hysteria was "Global Warming" that morphed into "Climate Change" and now the new boogeyman is "Climate Chaos." Ask Mr. Carini what percentage of the atmosphere was CO2 when the dinosaurs ruled the earth and he would be forced to admit there was more than ten times the percentage of CO2 then is present today. Our planet is not burning up and there is no "Crisis." Remember the Next Ice Age scare in 1977? The cover of Time magazine in that year was entitled "How to Survive the Coming Ice Age" The science regarding that was "settled" and how di that prediction turn out? My point is: there is a significant difference between weather and climate and while Mr. Carini is dedicated to environmentalism and "social justice" he paints a picture that is not based in reality.

Ah yes, that single solitary issue of Time magazine from 1977! Obviously that proves everything. Except, don't you folks think Time magazine is "fake news"?