#45’s Executive Order signed yesterday to dismantle Clean Power Plan was an action that helps nobody. It won’t likely bring back coal jobs (those are being automated and must compete with the lower prices of natural gas), and for the rest of us, is seriously jeopardizes our Paris Agreement commitments– our last, best hope to preserve the livability of our planet for ourselves and our children. It helps a few, horribly destructive fossil fuel corporations, though they will likely see their profits moderated anyway by competition from natural gas and renewable energy. In this case, our global leadership on the biggest challenge in our time is being sacrificed so that Trump can have a photograph of himself surrounded by smiling white, working class men– a necessary political distraction from his attempts to dismantle this demographic’s financial lives through his administration’s actions on health care and taxes.
I think the source of my extreme anger at this folly is the fact that we are at a moment where we cannot afford to be loosing time in our efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. We are already way outside the 350 PPM ‘safe’ zone that we believe might have preserved the climate patterns that our water and agricultural systems depend upon– the recorded value yesterday was 409 PPM at the Mauna Loa station:
— CO2 earth (@CO2_earth) March 29, 2017
In all likelihood, we have already set ourselves on a course that will inevitably accelerate the pattern of drought, famine, war and refugee crisis of the last five years. But even if it is too late to avoid this crisis entirely, there are still _varying degrees_ of crisis.
To understand this, it can be helpful to look at this fascinating site produced by the State of California to anticipate and prepare for climate impacts such as extreme heat and sea level rise. For any given geography and climate impact, you are given a choice of two scenarios; 1. an ‘optimistic scenario’ where greenhouse gas emissions peak at 2040, and then decrease, and 2. what I call the “realist scenario”–where greenhouse gas emissions continue to accelerate to 2100, and then plateau. The degree of catastrophe in terms of modeled sea level rise, extreme heat, snowpack (read: water supply) is markedly less pronounced if we were to achieve the ‘optimistic’ scenario for greenhouse gas reduction. If you live in California, I encourage you to check out the climate impacts for your area under each scenario, so you can understand what is at stake. California has set itself goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions that would ensure the State does it’s part to help achieve the optimistic scenario. In this fascinating graphic piece in the NYT, it is remarkable that California is actually it’s _own_ piece of the portfolio that would help the nation reach its climate commitments. As someone who spends some of my time on the ‘inside’ of the challenge of meeting California’s commitments, I can tell you that it is complicated and contentious work–but that it is working, and improving quality of life at the same time. If you don’t live in California, the following paragraph is for you:
In the face of a federal administration determined to sell out the future of our children for the short-term profits of corporations that traffic in disaster, commitments and changes made by states, cities and individuals are our only angle. Demand that your state government adopt greenhouse gas reduction legislation that will ensure that your state does it’s ‘fair share’ to meet the commitments set in the Paris Agreement. Ask your state to join in the lawsuit the California will most likely have to fight in order to preserve our higher emissions standards waiver. Ask your state to peg its vehicle mpg and CAFE standards to California’s standards (if they aren’t already). Do you live in a coal state? Then get your state to seek alternatives, message clearly about coal and its impacts to your legislators. IF the categorical decreases in greenhouse gas emissions now in jeopardy due to #45’s policies were to be replaced by decreases resulting from state action, (imagine the other 49 states listed as California is, in the image shown at the top of this blog post) then we might have a shot.
Get started, send your STATE REPRESENTATIVE a printable postcard.