Along with other headlines that saddened and disgusted me these past two weeks, news on climate action was also dismal:
- NPR: ‘Supreme Court restricts the EPA’s authority to mandate carbon emissions reductions’
- Time magazine: ‘Is the Senate about to kill offshore wind?’
- The Boston Globe: ‘As Earth’s temperature rises, Massachusetts residents’ sense of urgency on climate change declines.’
- The Guardian: ‘G7 Leaders are Accused of Backsliding on Climate Goals.’
- From Bloomberg: ‘U.S. Public Forests Are Cashing In on Dubious Carbon Offsets.’
It might have been a bad idea to be reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 at the same time that so many stories of climate inaction were breaking.
In 2312 historians have expanded on the periods we know here in the 21st Century – the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Early Modern and Postmodern. They’ve added new labels and definitions:
2005 – 2060: The Dithering – the wasted years when we had the chance to mitigate climate change but failed to act.
2060 – 2130: The Crisis – the disappearance of Artic ice, a five-meter sea level rise, desertification and drought result in worldwide food shortages, mass migration, riots and catastrophic death on all continents.
The 2312 historians may have used the 2022 G7 Summit in June as source material. The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the US and the EU agreed that ‘energy security’ was more important than addressing the climate crisis. They already knew that none of them would meet the emissions reduction goals they agreed to at the Paris Climate Accord in 2015.
As more proof of The Dithering period they would also have zeroed in on one of the planet’s largest polluters, citing the June 30, 2022 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s when the highest court in the land dealt a backhand to the U.S. efforts to transition to clean energy by taking away the power of the EPA to regulate power plant emissions.
Unfortunately, none of the recent climate action defeats are anything new. The Dithering began a few decades earlier. At the First Earth Summit, held in Stockholm in 1972, the United Nations issued its first warning about environmental pollution. They said that the world’s governments must be “mindful of activities that could lead to climate change and evaluate the likelihood and magnitude of climatic effects.”
OK, maybe the 1972 UN report wasn’t interpreted as a strong enough warning. Maybe the true dithering didn’t begin until 2005 when we had insurmountable proof and still did little to mitigate climate change.
In 2005 the UN IPCC presented definitive research that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the biggest culprit among the GHGs causing global warming and leading to climate change. They sounded the alarm. As of 2005, global atmospheric concentration of CO2 rose from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 379 ppm. Scientists confirmed that earth’s atmosphere had reached the highest CO2 levels of the last 650,000 years.
As of July 4th 2022, atmospheric CO2 is at 420 ppm. Graphic image of our dithering:
We now have little, if any, chance to keeping the earth from warming 1.5ºC. We do still have a shot at limiting global warming to 2ºC. That means that the climate-related catastrophes we’re already experiencing will get worse. Many will suffer, though it will be those who have the least to do with climate change who will suffer most.
The cruel irony is that we already have the solutions. Wind, solar, tidal and geothermal sources of energy have already evolved to a point of being able to supply the world’s energy needs. And clean energy is far cheaper than fossil fuel. The driving forces of economics will eventually lead to clean energy replacing fossil fuels. Yet, we dither.
For my full review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 – ‘2312 & Now’ – click here: https://daverhodywriting.wordpress.com/2022/07/04/2312-now/
Teaser: Earth’s wealthy upper classes emigrates to Mars.
The links to the articles I referenced: