There were many positive takeaways from the double-header Detroit Democratic Debates — both party presidential nominee and issues.
To me, the most compelling takeaway was “Climate Change is an Existential Threat.”
I have protested and warned about the dangers of the continued use of fossil fuels since 1979, when I rode a horse to work in Beverly Hills, protesting the Arab oil embargo and our reliance on gas guzzlers. I followed up with a couple more rides protesting the high cost of gasoline and obscene gas company profits.
My books and blogs have repeatedly warned of the existential threat Climate Change poses NOW! The latest, last month after my visit to Greenland, lamenting the island turning green and the deadly microbes being released from the permafrost exposed by the melting glaciers.
From drought stricken regions in any number of countries showing other parts of the same country getting hammered with endless floods, rain and snow storms, is just the latest expensive reminder that climate change, in addition to being a weather warning, is also a serious economic issue.
Billions of dollars of lost productivity, more than hundreds-of-thousands of flight cancellations that cause chaos at airports, hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants where people are forced to go and spend millions more of their hard earned savings on food, shelter and alternative transportation — and that’s not counting the people stranded in their cars on highways sleeping wherever they can find shelter.
What we are experiencing on the weather front is not only the beginning of the end of the environment as we know it, but our way of life economically and politically.
The reality is that the Arctic Ocean will probably be ice-free by 2030. This is not the main worry, however, as this is floating ice. When it melts it does not raise sea levels. The real worry is the Greenland ice shelf, which is also melting at an unprecedented rate. If this disappears too, the effects will be catastrophic.
Sea levels around the world will rise between six and seven meters, wiping out cities like New York, London and Shanghai. The addition of so much cold fresh water into the seas would also change ocean currents and weather patterns in ways we can’t even imagine. At the same time, rising temperatures in the northern hemisphere now risk melting much of the Siberian permafrost, which, like Greenland, will release vast clouds of trapped methane, accelerating the speed of climate change even more. This risks starting a chain reaction, which we could do nothing to stop.
“Without change, we are now heading for a four-degree rise, which will take the earth’s average temperature back to levels seen 40 million years ago. This will cause the Antarctic to melt too, with sea levels rising 60-70 meters. The droughts and floods we would experience along the way would make the planet virtually uninhabitable,” says Graeme Maxton, a fellow of the Club of Rome.
The biggest threat to our existence is not the lack of economic growth or terrorists — it is climate change. It is something I encounter frequently when I travel, especially in winter. The thousands of travel advisories and flights canceled is a nightmare for frequent fliers like myself, as well as economic and financial nightmare for everyone.
Global warming skeptic, prominent physicist Richard Muller, who was on the payroll of the energy companies, came clean and in from the cold, reluctantly admitting after two years of trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong that they were right and that temperatures really are rising. Muller’s study was partially funded by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of “Climategate,” a British scandal involving hacked e-mails of scientists.
Yet he found that the land is 1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was in the 1950s. Those numbers from Muller, who works at the University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, match those from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. He said he went even further back, studying readings from Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
What got everyone’s attention and raised a lot of eyebrows was the fact that one-quarter of the $600,000 to do the research came from the Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder is a major funder of skeptic groups. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, run a large private company involved in oil and other related industries.
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that the problem is very real and that climate change is man-made from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. “Greenhouse gases could have a disastrous impact on the world,” Muller concludes.
Hopefully, the Democratic nominee will make Climate Change, our primary existential threat, a major bipartisan election issue in the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns, instead of yet again, wasting more time on political spin paid for by fossil fuel burners.