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Wednesday, September 22, 2021 OpEd:

Climate science speaks: “Act now
Last month, one of the most remarkable scientific endeavors on the planet delivered a report to the world. Hundreds of international scientists volunteered thousands of hours to evaluate more than 14,000 scientific publications, respond to over 78,000 comments, and produce a comprehensive scientific assessment to inform government policy-makers. What topic could justify such an intense global effort? The crisis posed by climate change.

For over 30 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been assessing the science of climate change. Each successive report has provided stronger evidence and deeper understanding, giving governments much of the information they need to develop a response. The fifth IPCC report, released in 2014, catalyzed the Paris Agreement, which aspires to limit the increase in average global temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels, and preferably to 1.5°C.

The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s 2021 Sixth Assessment reflects our ever-growing understanding of the physical science basis of climate change, including advances that allow scientists to decipher the fingerprint of climate change in heat waves, heavy rainfall and floods, droughts, and wildfires. These increasingly frequent and severe events are dominating global headlines and stoking public awareness of the economic and humanitarian consequences facing the world because of climate change. The report is full of other noteworthy advancements—more observations of ocean heat waves, improvements in modeling ice sheet dynamics, greater appreciation of the role of short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane, more realistic scenarios of sea level rise, and an understanding of what remains unknown.

Two stark findings command attention. Some changes underway in the ocean and the Arctic are potentially irreversible on human time scales. And the pathway for limiting warming to 1.5°C is narrowing rapidly. These results underscore the urgency of vastly enhancing global ambitions to tackle this threat. Every bit of avoided warming matters…

Because no single nation can solve the crisis alone, the United States is working with other countries to lower their own emissions and improve their resilience while assisting those places already suffering from climate change. The next decade will be critical. To keep the 1.5°C target within reach, all major economies must do more, with immediate, robust, and sustained action to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This means deploying technological and natural climate solutions, such as conserving and restoring terrestrial and mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and seagrass beds. It means focusing not only on terrestrial activities but also on ocean-based ones such as generating renewable wind, current, and tidal energy; decarbonizing shipping; and protecting existing stores of carbon on the seabed. It means becoming better at helping communities, economies, and ecosystems adapt to climate disruptions.

The world owes a huge debt of gratitude to the hundreds of contributors who labored during a global pandemic to bring the IPCC’s timely findings to policy-makers. Science has delivered the clarity of knowledge. It is now up to leaders in every country—but especially the major economies—to act boldly. This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November must be a turning point—the moment when the world heeds scientific findings and collectively rises to meet the greatest challenge of our time.

Adverse anthropocene climate change is a thing, whether we believe it or not. "Clarion Call?"
Climate-related disaster refugees from Central America—or, as Fox News put it, "the countries of Mexico"—are amassing at the U.S. southern border (now in addition to desperate Haitians displaced by their recent earthquake).


And, another new book pops up (Sept 21st release).

Came to me via a New Yorker article. e.g.,
Climate change hasn’t always been so divisive. In the late nineties, a Gallup poll found that forty-six per cent of Democrats and forty-seven per cent of Republicans agreed that the effects of global warming had already begun. “As recently as 2008, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and current House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, cozied up on a love seat in front of the U.S. Capitol to film a commercial about climate change,” Hayhoe writes in her book. In the past decade, though, as the scope of the crisis became clear, Democrats began pressing for policies to cut U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, and Republicans were reluctant to commit. Energy companies stepped into the stalemate and began aggressively lobbying politicians, and injecting doubt into the public discourse, to stop such policies from taking effect. “Industry swung into motion to activate the political system in their favor,” Hayhoe said.

At its root, she notes, the climate-change divide isn’t a disagreement about facts. “In a study of fifty-six countries, researchers found people’s opinions on climate change to be most strongly correlated not with education and knowledge, but rather with ‘values, ideologies, worldviews and political orientation,’ ” she writes. One salient problem is an aspect of human behavior that researchers have termed “solution aversion.” Solving the climate crisis will require ending our reliance on fossil fuels, which people believe would involve major sacrifice. “If there’s a problem and we’re not going to fix it, then that makes us bad people,” Hayhoe said. “No one wants to be a bad person.” So instead people are happy to seize on excuses not to take action. Most are what she calls “science-y sounding objections, and, in the U.S., religious-y sounding objections.” Hayhoe often hears that the Earth has always heated and cooled according to its own intrinsic cycle, or that God, not humanity, controls the fate of the planet. These objections can then harden into aspects of our political identity…
Just released.
It took a pandemic to bring us together.

As coronavirus swept across the world, we saw country after country go into lockdown. Schools closed and places of work shut down. For a while, it seemed we were all united against a common threat.

As the pandemic wore on, this consensus started to disintegrate. Political leaders who’d been elected on waves of nationalist and populist rhetoric began to depict coronavirus precautions as more damaging to society than the disease itself. Supposedly reputable sources hyped false cures, and deliberately misrepresented the severity of the illness. In the U.S., going without a face mask became a badge of the conservative cause. While some continued to social distance, others held gatherings, some of which turned into superspreader events. The contrast between nations was stark—and the difference in infection and death rates equally so.

Sadly, none of this surprised me. I’ve spent my career studying climate change. The same techniques used to politicize coronavirus—promoting pseudoscience and fake experts, slandering the actual experts, valuing the economy over human life, even hiding or denying data to make the issue seem less urgent and less harmful than it is—have been applied to climate change for decades. Horrified, I’ve seen political biases drive people to reject simple facts: climate is changing, humans are responsible, the impacts are serious, and the time to act is now.

The U.S. is arguably home to the most extreme divisions between liberal and conservative, but I’ve seen these same divisions growing in recent years in my home country of Canada, in the U.K., in Australia, in Europe, and beyond. No matter where we live, the result is the same: as people identify with increasingly narrow tribes, they begin to view those with different views as alien, not worth respecting or even treating as human…

Hayhoe, Katharine. Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World (p. IX-X). Atria/One Signal Publishers. Kindle Edition

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