Mother Nature is speaking louder than the wealthiest and dirtiest fossil-fuel corporations on Earth, confirming what the largest and most respected bodies of scientists in the world have concluded: Global temperatures are quickly rising, and global warming is being found to impact long-term weather patterns. Two new studies build on or confirm the meticulous efforts of these climate scientists.
One study, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study — funded in part by the Charles G. Koch Foundation and headed by Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, who initially was a climate science skeptic — confirmed and validated the science Muller set out to disprove, instead, finding:
- The warming studies and measurements were accurate and were carefully constructed and carried out.
- There is almost certainly more than natural causes contributing.
- There is strong correlation to anthropogenic, human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions.
As a result of this study, Muller has since flipped his position, joining the scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming.
The second study, just released by renowned, leading climate scientist James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, connects weather events to the planet's warming. Other scientists in other studies show similar findings.
Climate activist Bill McKibben, who recently wrote a Rolling Stone article, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math," has been described by Time Magazine as "the planet’s best green journalist." He is the author of more than a dozen books, beginning with "The End of Nature" in 1989.
McKibben’s Rolling Stone article has gone viral, and it lays out three important numbers collected from numerous studies and data attempting to count global polluting fossil-fuel resources.
The first number is 2 degrees Celsius: the number of degrees of warming we cannot exceed and still hope for a reasonably livable planet. The second is 565 gigatons: the amount of coal or other polluting fossil fuels we can burn and stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming. The third number is 2,795 gigatons: the amount of fossil fuels claimed and already "on the books" of the wealthiest energy corporations in the world and a few countries that basically operate like energy companies, such as Venezuela, which they intend to be sold to burn. Currently, we’re already at about 1 degree Celsius of warming — halfway to the upper limit of 2 degrees — and, at this level, we see extreme record-shattering change everywhere. Just think about the consequences if we burned more to reach the 565 gigatons allowed to stay just below the 2 degrees Celsius upper limit, much less if we burned the 2,795 gigatons the fossil-fuel kings insist we burn.
We must take more action. Locally, there are many ways to get involved. You’re invited to share your thoughts and ideas at a Peoples’ Visioning to address climate change and jobs without an enhanced enterprise zone and blight. Join your neighbors at 7 p.m. Monday at the Friends Room in the Columbia Public Library; there will be music and refreshments at 6:30 p.m. Find out more from the Columbia Climate Change Coalition.
Let’s do something about jobs and climate change — if not for one another, then for our children and grandchildren.
Monta Welch is founder and president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.