Last week, two people who do landscaping work at Garden Atriums said that they were frightened by gas reaching $5 a gallon, and weren’t sure how they were going to be able to continue. Both have gas cars, so I asked if they’d considered trading them in, for whatever price they could get now, and get an e-car. One said she’d never go electric. The other said she didn’t have the money. My question:
“At what point will you have to make
the switch if you wish to keep driving?”
Our own research asking “Who is actually buying sustainable homes and other products?” suggested that the higher the education level, the more people will make changes today based on a likely future. It’s frustrating for me to see good people suffering now and having no bright outlet for the future while I’m driving for free, in a solar-powered e-car. I believe that unless we can help these people make changes in their lifestyle, we may all be doomed to a very unpleasant future.
This research report suggests needed policy changes. But, if I rely on “whomever” to make these essential changes, I’m not in control of my future. I’ll add suggestions each of us can take to give ourselves a more positive quality-of-life experience both today and in the future.
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Critical measures of global heating
reaching tipping point, study finds
Carbon emissions, ocean acidification, Amazon
clearing all hurtling toward new records
Vast areas of the Amazon rainforest are being burned and cleared for grazing cattle — a double blow to global warming, as cattle produce methane and cleared forests release carbon into the atmosphere.
Jul 27, 2021
A new study tracking the planet’s vital signs has found that many of the key indicators of the global climate crisis are getting worse and either approaching, or exceeding, key tipping points as the earth heats up.
Overall, the study found some 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, including greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content and ice mass, set worrying new records. William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University who co-authored the new research, said in a statement:
“There is growing evidence we are
getting close to or have already gone
beyond tipping points associated with
important parts of the Earth system.
“The updated planetary vital signs we
present largely reflect the consequen-
ces of unrelenting business as usual.
“A major lesson from Covid-19 is that
even colossally decreased transporta-
tion and consumption are not nearly
enough and that, instead, transform-
ational system changes are required.”
While the pandemic shut down economies and shifted the way people think about work, school and travel, it did little to reduce the overall global carbon emissions. Fossil fuel use dipped slightly in 2020, but the authors of a report published in the journal BioScience say that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide “have all set new year-to-date records for atmospheric concentrations in both 2020 and 2021”.
In April 2021, carbon dioxide concentration reached 416 parts per million, the highest monthly global average concentration ever recorded. The five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2015, and 2020 was the second hottest year in history.
The study also found that ruminant livestock, a significant source of planet-warming gases, now number more than 4 billion, and their total mass is more than that of all humans and wild animals combined. The rate of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon increased in both 2019 and 2020, reaching a 12-year high of 1.11 million hectares deforested in 2020.
Ocean acidification is near an all-time record, and when combined with warmer ocean temperatures, it threatens the coral reefs that more than half a billion people depend on for food, tourism dollars and storm surge protection.
However, there were a few bright spots in the study, including fossil fuel subsidies reaching a record low and fossil fuel divestment reaching a record high.
In order to change the course of the climate emergency, the authors write that profound alterations need to happen. They say the world needs to develop a global price for carbon that is linked to a socially just fund to finance climate mitigation and adaptation policies in the developing world.
The authors also highlight the need for a phase-out and eventual ban of fossil fuels, and the development of global strategic climate reserves to protect and restore natural carbon sinks and biodiversity. Climate education should also be part of school curricula around the globe, they say. The report says:
“Policies to alleviate the climate crisis
or any of the other threatened planet-
ary boundary transgressions should
not be focused on symptom relief
but on addressing their root cause:
the overexploitation of the Earth.”
Only by taking on this core issue, the authors write, will people be able to “ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization and give future generations the opportunity to thrive”.
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As you can see, my frustration and anxiety in seeing how good people are stuck in a situation that’s going to steadily get worse, and is going to make their lives more difficult, is blocking my ability to be as helpful as I’d like to be. I’ll turn immediately to D for counsel …
“The European Union has made transformational and systemic shifts to ensure a healthier future. In the United States, those systemic shifts need to occur at a city, state, or federal level. It requires each person to take changes in stride and embrace a new reality. Change is painful. And yet, without it, the status quo remains.
“At this moment in time, there are forest fires in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and New Jersey. At this time, there are catastrophic floods in Montana and Wyoming. All of these events are from global warming.
“You can, as an individual, try to influence your local, state, or federal government. (It cannot be done by the President; it must be done by Congress.) Most people will have the most luck, if any, at a local level. It will not be easy. So …
“What can you do, as an individual?
“Our biggest recommendation is to plant trees. Trees will clean up the air, provide shade when it’s too hot, and hold excess water when needed, to stop potential flooding.
“Our second recommendation is to purchase an electric car. The Number One cause of carbon in the air is fossil-fuel-powered vehicle emissions.
“The third step is to think about your home. In most homes, much of the heating and cooling leaks out of the house. It is a huge waster of energy. Insulate, insulate, insulate. Beyond insulation, see if there are cracks around doors and windows that continue to leak. It is said that approximately 40 to 60 percent of the heating and cooling is lost through the roof; insulation can stop that.
“The time to take action is now … because it will get even worse.”