Will 2016 mark the year that the human species, uniquely equipped with a prefrontal cerebral cortex, empathy, and opposable thumbs, finally grasps the fundamental reason behind the existential threat posed by global warming and climate change (Because CO2)? Will citizens and their governments stop being paralyzed by distractions, misinformation, and downright denial and view this planetary emergency as not just a danger to public health, national security, and economic well-being, but also as an enormous public health, national security, and economic opportunity?
It turns out that 2016 has been a pretty good year for dealing with the urgent problem of climate change. It began with the Paris Climate Agreement negotiated by most United Nations member nations and ratified by enough greenhouse gas emitters to become legally binding next month — a mere 11 months since the accord was signed last December. This year also saw the belated recognition of the impact methane emissions from oil and gas development have on global warming. Methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe and reducing emissions from industrial oil and gas operations is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Recently, countries signed the ICAO Agreement which will significant limit greenhouse gas emissions resulting from international air travel. And just this past weekend, more than 170 nations signed an extremely important amendment to the 1989 Montreal Protocol which will gradually reduce and systematically phase out emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are extremely potent greenhouse gases used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners. This is not a trivial action to combat global warming:
“Adopting an ambitious amendment to phase down the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons—or HFCs—is likely the single most important step that we could take at this moment to limit the warming of our planet,” Secretary of State John Kerry said…
There has been positive movement in other ways. The cost of solar power has been dropping precipitously. More wind turbines are coming on line. More and more people are looking at the carbon math and concluding that continued reliance on fossil fuels — oil, coal, and natural gas — doesn’t add up to a solution. Continuing to emit CO2, methane, HFCs, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is counterproductive to measures which governments, corporations, and individuals can take — in fact, have already taken — to diminish the risks to health, to economies, and to national security resulting from climate change. After years of being distracted by climate change “hoax-sters,” it now appears that momentum is on science’s side — and not a moment too soon. It won’t be us but our children who will discover whether what we’ve done to combat global warming and climate change was enough. There’s still a huge, uphill climb ahead of us so it’s important we stay focused on the problem and don’t lose that precious positive momentum. Our children who have little voice now — and their children, too, who still have none at all — are depending on us to do the right thing: Drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and do it now.
Visit the EPA’s website here and learn more about things you and your family can do to make the world a bit cooler.