By blocking the exit from Earth’s atmosphere of heat produced by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and certain agricultural practices, we are causing a steady rise in the global mean temperature, which is becoming more ominous with every passing day because increasing heat means increasing the melting of the polar ice caps, the rising of the oceans, the flooding of the world’s coasts, increasing droughts, famines, migrations, wildfires and acidic oceans. It is therefore imperative that we keep abreast of the rise in heat in order to be more motivated to halt and reverse the course of Climate Change.
The Paris Accord in 2015 initially called for a limit in the rise of global mean temperature of 2⁰C (3.6⁰F) above the start of industrial times in the late 1880s, but changed that number to 1.5⁰C (2.7⁰ F). Currently, the world is 1.2⁰C (2.2⁰F) warmer than pre-industrial times. Carbon dioxide remains active in the atmosphere for millennia, which means that a rise of another 1⁰C will result from that activity.
Emissions Gap Report from the UN Environment Programme 2/5/17: “Current pledges to cut emissions will result in a global temperature rise of 3.4⁰C (6.7⁰F) above pre-industrial levels. Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster”, two UNEP leaders warn in the report’s introduction.
“After 24 years of negotiations we are hurtling toward a 3.4 degree Celsius world, which will be catastrophic for millions across the world,” added Dipti Bhatnagar, a climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth International. “Despite all the science-based evidence, rich nations are failing to do their fair share of emissions reductions as well as provide the finance to drive energy transformation in developing countries.”
Washington Post 1/18/17: “NASA and NOAA declared last week 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year – which itself had topped a record set in 2014.
“Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to NOAA, were .07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in 2015, and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s record began in 1880.
“The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th Century average of 57 degrees”, NOAA declared. The Agency also noted that the record for the global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000.
“NASA concurred with NOAA, also declaring 2016 the warmest year on record in its own dataset that tracks the temperatures at the surface of the planet’s land and oceans. NASA actually found a bigger leap upward of temperatures in 2016, measuring the year as .22 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the prior record year of 2015. The Agency noted that since the year 2001 the planet has seen 16 of the 17 warmest years on record.
“Extreme high temperatures were seen from India – where the city of Pholodi recorded temperatures of 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit) in May, a new national record – to Iran, where a temperature of 53 degrees (127.4 F) was recorded in Delhoran on July 22.”
The Trump Administration
To grasp what results in America from insufficient popular participation in the political process, we need only to observe the workings of the Trump Administration. The majority of Americans disapprove of what they are seeing, but their actions are too minimal, too unorganized and too ephemeral.
Rolling Stone 12/14/17: “The presidency of Donald Trump has been stunningly effective in its core mission, the dismantling of modern American government as it has evolved since the Progressive era of the early 20th century. This should surprise no one. In many respects, the administration’s agenda jibes with the main lines of Republican conservatism as laid down by Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago, pressing massive tax reductions for the wealthy, along with deregulation of finance and business.
“Trump has supercharged Reagan’s anti-government agenda. His only focus is a compulsion to demolish established policies and programs – above all, anything associated with Barack Obama.
“Trump’s anti-government assaults fulfill a dream that the hard-right has nurtured for decades – to rip apart the modern American regulatory and welfare state that Reagan and the two Bush presidents left standing. Their motives combine ideology and money, embodied in moguls like Robert and Rebekah Mercer and the Koch brothers, who represent greed and extremist dogma in roughly equal measure.
“Trump commenced his destruction when he selected a Cabinet. By the time his nominations finally shook out, he had surrounded himself with a group of pliant department heads that were ‘the richest in human history’, estimated as worth, in aggregate, nearly $4.3 billion. Most telling of all were their credentials, or lack thereof. For secretary of education, Trump chose a billionaire champion of privatized education who had called public schools a ‘dead end.’ His secretary of state had been an ExxonMobil CEO whose chief qualifications were being awarded an ‘Order of Friendship’ medal by Putin and negotiating an oil-drilling deal worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the Russian Arctic. To run the EPA, Trump selected a climate-change denier. On it went. An ex-governor of Texas who campaigned to abolish the Department of Energy was chosen to head it. A neurosurgeon who considered poverty ‘a state of mind’ took charge at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These Cabinet choices advance the right-wing Republican agenda on taxes, health care, the environment, school choice, civil rights and more. At another level, his administration expresses an unprecedented contempt for the government itself, placing the direction of large and powerful federal agencies in the hands of people who are fiercely opposed to the mission of those agencies. From the start, Trump has been out to delegitimize large parts of the government he has been elected to run.”
The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system under construction in Canada and the United States, running from Alberta to refineries in Texas and Illinois, and to an oil distribution center in Oklahoma. If we decide to build the Keystone Pipeline in its fullness, the economically extractible oil from the tar sands of Alberta will steadily grow over time. Moreover, these tar sands are large deposits of heavy crude oil. The Athabasca deposit is the largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world, the largest of three major oil sands in Alberta.
Their extraction, refining and burning would raise the global mean temperature and radically intensify the melting of the ice caps, flooding and destroyed cities, extreme weather events, wildfires, droughts, famines migrations etc., all of which will ravage the Earth and its inhabitants.
James Hansen: “What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end per unit carbon dioxide is poor. It’s equivalent to burning coal in your car. We simply be that stupid if we want to preserve a planet for our children and grandchildren.”
Contact your representatives (202-224-3121). Ask what they are doing to prevent the completion of the Keystone Pipeline. Keep their answers until election time and vote accordingly.
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