You probably heard about the bombshell report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body that determines with hard science the threat we face from too much carbon in the atmosphere. Although this panel has generally been conservative with its outlook, this time it’s not mincing words. We’re at the point where changes — big ones — are needed before 2030 or the future of humanity is at stake — no lie.
The carbon emission freight train needs hard brakes over the next 10 years to keep global warming at 3.6 degrees F (1.5 C). We’re at 2.3 degrees F, 1.28 C now — the highest in 141 years of record keeping. A climate unmatched since interglacial melting 125,000 years ago when sea levels were 32 feet higher.
The truth is depressing and daunting. The lungs of the earth, the Amazon rain forest now emits more carbon than it absorbs. The West is on fire, there is massive flooding, ocean acidification, species eradication. The Gulf Stream in the Atlantic is slowing from freshwater Arctic ice melt. This could affect crop production and create food shortages for billions of people.
An enormous, unprecedented effort is necessary to dramatically reduce carbon in the air by 2030. 2050 will be too late.
So what can one person do?
Recycle, move to clean energy, eat less meat, drive EVs, reduce plastic use, buy less stuff, take fewer flights. Yes, yes, that’s all well and good. But its impact pales behind the most most important thing we need now.
The most powerful tool we have right now to fight climate change is to choose better leaders.
Leaders who understand that climate change is real and are willing to take brave action. Leaders who are not in the pockets of short-sighted financial interests, fossil fuel lobbyists, or who dwell in fairyland.
Fortunately, most people believe climate change is happening and we need to do something about it. But few are taking seriously the imminent deadline. The IPCC report gives us 10 years. 10 years! There is no time for a traditional, generational, glacially paced shift of thinking.
Let’s start right now to choose, appoint, and elect enlightened, science-believing leaders at all levels of government. Let’s let the leaders we have right now know we want them to do what’s right. Those with power have the tools, the financing, and the lawmaking skills that we don’t have individually and they are sworn to serve us. Tell your lawmakers on all levels to make the transition to clean energy, sustainable agriculture, pollution reduction, strict emissions targets, and climate action plans. Speak up, friends.
What are we waiting for?
Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit tasked with making the Greater Stillwater Area more green, sustainable, and resilient.