The good news is the cost of renewables — wind turbines, solar panels, etc. — have decreased, far more rapidly than anyone projected. The bad news is, while most nations paid lip service to the need to start moving toward carbon zero by 2050, as enunciated by the United Nations more than four months ago, few have done anything about it.
Joe Biden’s unprecedented $375 billion contribution to the climate emergency is the exception that proves the rule. It also underscored Republican intractability. Every single Republican Senator voted against it, proving that the midterms aren’t just a referendum on the survival of the American republic, but vital to our survival as a species.
The roadmap is clear, we must hit peak carbon in three years’ time. Moreover, we must find technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere if, by 2050, we are to reach carbon zero and limit the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
It’s now or never. It’s a tall order but we are equal to it. Now is the time we must begin to make sacrifices as individuals. Things you can do include stop travelling by air, travel as little as you can by gasoline powered transport, scrupulously recycle, eat less meat and animal products (or none at all if you can). If you can afford to do so, start making the changeover to renewable energy sources in your home and your life.
The predictions for a 1.5 degree centigrade temperature rise are dire but probably survivable. Much more than that would be devastating beyond belief. The term “climate migrant” is already becoming common coin in many places of the third world. Should the predicted temperature rise of 3 degrees be realised, by then we will cease having climate migrants and we will have climate refugees to replace them, and they will be legion.
Cities like New York will be underwater. The entire state of California could become a burning desert. Temperatures too hot for a healthy person to survive could become commonplace in surprising places. And, most terrifying of all, climate feedback loops could lead to consequences no one can predict now, but everyone agrees would be disastrous beyond belief.
Republicans are too busy worrying about preserving Donald Trump’s ego and “owning the libs” to care. But mark my words, this evil generation of fools will change their tunes the very minute they see how much immediate peril they have put themselves in. They will try to blame Democrats for the problem and pretend they were climate warriors all along.
Remember this as well, Republicans today in the pockets of the gas and oil companies aren’t just traitors to the American republic, they are guilty of crimes against humanity. They are the new Nazis who would destroy the world in the name of their greed. We must win in November. We must. Failure is not an option.
Republicanism has become the politics of resentment. That is a bad prescription for times of crisis. In times of crisis we need each other, and people who have spent their lives hating those of us who fight against global warming will be unlikely to come forward and lend a hand when climate devastation makes cooperation desperately needed.
This is a fight we can win together, but to do so we must remain steadfast. Vote in November, take as many people to the polls with you as you possibly can, donate to Democratic politicians in battleground states, and vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.