Clearly, the climate crisis is upon us

This summer's sizzling t...

Posted: Jul 31, 2018 3:19 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2018 3:19 PM

This summer's sizzling temperatures, savage droughts, raging wildfires, floods and acute water shortages -- from Japan to the Arctic Circle, California to Greece -- are surely evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that the climate crisis is upon us now.

This is the new normal -- until it gets worse.

We, the entire global community, the residents of this planet, must finally grasp the urgency at hand and undertake dramatic, meaningful measures -- initiatives beyond the modest goals of 2015 Paris climate accord -- to stave off nothing less than the destruction of civilization as we know it.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it's mainstream opinion among serious scientists worldwide: Climate change, unchecked, will eventually wipe out our race -- and man-made greenhouse gas emissions are still rising.

An open letter signed by 15,000 international scientists last year read in part: "Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home," the letter warns.

"Since 1992, carbon emissions have increased 62 percent," said William Ripple of Oregon State University's College of Forestry, who initiated the letter. "And the global average temperature change has paralleled that. Also since 1992, we have two billion more people on Earth, which is a 35 percent increase."

In his epic tome "Collapse," the American physicist Jared Diamond attributes the decline and extinction of several historical civilizations, among them the Maya and the Inca, to climate change, overpopulation and incompetent resource management.

The book's telling subtitle is "How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." It was resolute stubbornness and bad management that killed off the great Latin American peoples, Diamond argued.

Today, though, an entire world civilization, not just a regional people, has neglected and defiled the very resource base from which it sustains itself.

Yet the headlines still read "When The Weather Is Extreme, Is Climate Change To Blame?"

We've got to move past the false, stubborn debate about whether global warming is happening or not. Obviously it is, plentiful research has underscored this for years, and with the natural disasters everywhere we're feeling it now. Those who still don't get it may have stuck their heads in the sand -- or perhaps they're lying to themselves.

But either way we can't lose more time trying to convince them. And those who are slowly coming around -- including US Republicans, notorious former skeptics -- have to catch up on the learning curve very quickly.

Resignation or fatalism -- that it's a tragedy, the destruction of life as we know it, but alas we can't affect it -- is as self-defeating as denial, and lazy too. I've seen one too many dystopian, post-apocalyptic thrillers recently based on worst-case, extreme-weather scenarios, but too few about saving mankind from these fates.

In the 1980s, the international community's response to the ozone's thinning and the scourge of acid rain illustrate what mankind can do when it puts its mind to changing human and above all industrial behavior. In the form of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and 1985 Helsinki Protocol respectively, treaties were put in place that halted the destructive menace of the pollutants responsible for those blights. They're success stories.

Admittedly, these afflictions were more contained than the entire planet's warming, but they show that human beings can at least constrain the folly that they've set in motion.

So the battle against climate change is in our hands. Despite the meager political action to date, we're not starting at square one.

Our scientists, in a feat of global cooperation orchestrated through the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have enabled us to understand climate change as the consequence of two centuries' intensive burning of petroleum-based fuel, and what it portends -- namely a future in which human beings and other inhabitants of the planet will find it increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible, to live as we have.

Another product of science is the technology that can replace fossil fuels. It's already there, and in use in small quantities almost everywhere in the world. The clean tech that we have today -- solar power, wind energy, battery-propelled transportation, smart grids, and more -- is enough for us to go completely green in the near future.

Advances are made and costs come down on this technology every six months, but we don't have to wait. Germany, for example, turned 40% of its electricity renewable in just 15 years. Today that could happen twice as fast.

A number of diverse, evidence-based studies show that a global transition to 100% renewable electricity, or close to that, isn't utopian dreaming at all but feasible, and in the near future. A massive roll out of renewables, not including nuclear energy, could cover the globe's energy needs by 2050, even with the world's population growing. All investment in fossil fuel production would have to be switched to renewables.

One recent study, the product of a Finnish university and German think tank, envisions a global renewable energy mix comprising 69% solar power, 18% wind energy, 8% hydropower, and 2% bioenergy.

A full decarbonization of the electricity system by 2050 is possible based on available technology, according to Christian Breyer, a renewable energy expert and lead author of the study. "Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will," says Breyer -- and he's not alone in asserting this. A 2017 study from Stanford University came to similar conclusions.

But just as global warming today is something we can feel, so too can we see renewable energy at work.

In Europe, Germany is the most commonly cited example because it is home to one of the world's most advanced industrial economies, which has prospered with the renewables surge. Yet Norway and Iceland already run almost completely on renewable energy, namely hydroelectric and geothermal power respectively.

Denmark plans to convert fully to renewable energy by 2050 by scaling back on energy use and exploiting wind power to meet demand. By 2020, extensive reductions in energy consumption will make it possible for wind power to cover half of the country's electricity consumption. Danish power plants relying on coal will be phased out by 2030. And by 2035, all electricity and heating will be generated using renewable sources.

As individuals, of course we can curb our consumption and make our lifestyles as sustainable as possible. But as citizens we have to mobilize too and force our elected leaders (and unelected leaders in China and elsewhere) to tackle the industrial giants whose fortunes are tied up in petrochemical generation.

Until this summer, many in the developed world probably assumed that global warming would only affect the undeveloped and the far-away. But global warming has hit home for all of us in 2018.

If empathy for others or future generations can't inspire concern, then let pure self-interest dictate action.

Whatever the motive, the time for half measures is past.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319381

Reported Deaths: 7354
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22264265
Hinds20634421
Harrison18381316
Rankin13862282
Jackson13677248
Madison10234224
Lee10050176
Jones8458167
Forrest7821153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6498149
Lamar633688
Lafayette6298120
Washington5418136
Bolivar4835133
Panola4663110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4597146
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc424973
Monroe4155135
Union415576
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock386087
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn324172
Scott319374
Yazoo314171
Itawamba305077
Adams304885
Copiah299766
Coahoma298383
Simpson298189
Tippah291568
Prentiss283561
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267083
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251951
Newton248563
Tishomingo231267
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187554
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135247
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite126142
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica108027
Jefferson Davis107833
Claiborne103030
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin85023
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547873

Reported Deaths: 11274
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809141565
Mobile41984826
Madison35629523
Tuscaloosa26147458
Shelby25580254
Montgomery25075611
Baldwin21805313
Lee16248175
Calhoun14710325
Morgan14618285
Etowah14160362
Marshall12446230
Houston10757288
Elmore10292212
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10155250
Cullman9928200
Lauderdale9591248
DeKalb8963189
Talladega8455184
Walker7330280
Autauga7229113
Blount6937139
Jackson6905113
Colbert6406139
Coffee5622126
Dale4929114
Russell454541
Chilton4470116
Franklin430783
Covington4267122
Tallapoosa4127154
Escambia401180
Chambers3723123
Dallas3606156
Clarke352861
Marion3237106
Pike313978
Lawrence3124100
Winston283272
Bibb267664
Geneva257081
Marengo250665
Pickens236662
Barbour234559
Hale226678
Butler223771
Fayette217762
Henry193743
Cherokee187245
Randolph186944
Monroe179141
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155157
Cleburne153144
Lamar146237
Lowndes142053
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113230
Coosa111429
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 67°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 66°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast through most of the work week. This will mean much more in the way of dry and hot weather will be the weather rule through our Friday. However, changes may be coming to our area for this weekend.
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