Friday, June 02, 2017

It's Getting A Bit Warm Here ...

Just in case you were wondering
Yesterday, donald trump announced that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, claiming that it was unfair to the US and that it "is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries ..."

This is false and shortsighted, and indicative of trump's provincialism and his inability to see the bigger picture. The question then becomes: why?

Profit, of course. Everything trump has done has been to boost his own wealth. From loading his Cabinet with Goldman-Sachs people, to charging the Secret Service rent in Trump Tower and Mar-A-Lago, everything he has done makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of "what will give me, donald trump, more money?" And this is no exception, considering his investment stake in fossil fuel companies:
  • Energy Transfer Partners (primary builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline): $500,000 to $1,000,000.
  • Chevron: $550,000 to $1,100,000
  • Occidental Petroleum: $500,001 to $1 million
  • Total: $501,000 to $1,015,000
  • BHP Billiton: $501,000 to $1,015,00
  • ExxonMobil: $50,000 to $100,000
  • Halliburton: $51,000 to $115,000
  • EOG Resources: $50,000 to $100,000
  • Schlumberger: $15,000 to $50,000
  • Conoco Phillips: $1,000 to $15,000
  • Shell: $1,000 to $15,000
  • Kinder Morgan: $2,000 to $30,000
In addition, Harold Hamm is the CEO of the largest fracking company in the United States, Continental Resources. He is also trump's energy adviser, maxed out his contributions to the trump campaign, and donated an additional hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee's election efforts to put trump in office.

Conservatives argue one of two things: climate change isn't real, or it's not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. However, scholarly sources disagree vehemently with this assessment. In an article published in Nature, Chris Thomas of the University of York and Alison Cameron of Queen's University Belfast and their colleagues argue that, given the current rate of climate change, we can expect to see the extinction of about 35% of all species on Earth by 2050[1]. An even more dire warning comes from arctic-news.blogspot.com, which warns that human beings could be extinct within a decade, by 2026.

While there may be a certain level of sensationalism attached to these (especially the one about human extinction), they are based on objective scientific data and point to a larger point: human beings are changing the climate of the planet to a degree and at a rate never before seen in the planet's history. granted, there have been climatic shifts over the eons, but they have taken place over centuries, if not millennia -- certainly not in the space of 35 years, or even 82 1/2 years (from now until 2100). It is accepted science that, if we can limit the amount of warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, we have a fighting chance of surviving on an Earth that doesn't look a lot different from today. The problem is that this assessment was made in 2010, and we have already "used up" 0.8 degrees of that.

Think about that. From 2010 to 2016 global temperatures increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius. In order to maintain some semblance of life as we know it, we have to limit temperature rise to 1 1/2 times that over the next 84 years. If we continue at the current rate, temperatures will instead rise by approximately 8 1/2 degrees, more than enough to completely inundate virtually every major city within fifty miles of an oceanic coastline ... and let's be honest, this encompasses the majority of cities on Earth. New York. Miami. Los Angeles. Tokyo. Hong Kong. Mumbai. Shanghai. London. Rome. Rio de Janeiro. Buenos Aires. Mogadishu. Tel Aviv. Athens. Venice. Dublin. Amsterdam. Stockholm. The list goes on. All of these cities would be under water.

In addition to displacing a sizeable chunk of the Earth's population (the cities listed above alone house 160 million people) because their homes would be gone, there is the added trauma of dealing with the loss of arable land. Rising temperatures are already leading to desertification in the tropics. The Sahara is expanding. The Amazon rain forest, often called "the lungs of the Earth," is being denuded at an alarming rate. Climatic zones are moving toward the poles, forcing arctic and antarctic species to deal with changes in habitats and predation. Growing seasons are changing, causing food crops and the migratory species dependent on them to become out of sync -- giving diminishing populations and the resulting reduction of pollination.

This is the most crucial issue facing our planet. Even assuming a best-case-scenario, that we are able to keep global average temperature rise to two degrees Celsius over this century, we are still looking at about a three meter rise in sea level. This is enough to inundate large sections of Florida, Louisiana, Bangladesh, and other low-lying locales, as well as completely wiping out places like the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, and the Maldives.

We are already seeing these effects, actually. In Hallandale Beach, Florida, near Miami, salt water intrusion has breached five of the eight freshwater wells the city uses for its water supply. "King tides" -- resulting from the alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun, which used to happen a couple of times a year, are now almost regular monthly occurrences. People going to work have to wear rain boots just to get to their cars, and some have given up and are going barefoot. Roads are closed. Other roads are being elevated by an average of five feet.

But hey. As long as trump's energy portfolio does well, it's all good, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

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1Source: "Extinction risk from climate change" Chris D. Thomas, Alison Cameron, Rhys E. Green, Michel Bakkenes, Linda J. Beaumont, Yvonne C. Collingham, Barend F. N. Erasmus,
Marinez Ferreira de Siqueira, Alan Grainger, Lee Hannah, Lesley Hughes, Brian Huntley, Albert S. van Jaarsveld, Guy F. Midgley, Lera Miles, Miguel A. Ortega-Huerta, A. Townsend Peterson, Oliver L. Phillips & Stephen E. Williams, Nature 427(6970):145-8 · February 2004, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8928870_Extinction_risk_from_climate_change
2http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html

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