It’s the earth’s atmosphere, of which carbon dioxide is an important part, that keeps the radiant heat of the sun from bouncing off the earth’s surface and rocketing out into space, rendering the earth warm and agreeable instead of a frozen ball of ice. That’s why carbon dioxide, or CO2, is known as a greenhouse gas. We used to have exactly enough CO2 in the atmosphere to keep the earth’s temperature stable. Now we have too much and it’s causing the temperature to go up.
Human beings make CO2, 87% of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels. That is why the earth’s temperature is rising. We are causing it. In twelve years it will have risen 1.5 degrees centigrade above the normal, and that will be too much. In other words, by 2031 we are going to be in one hell of a mess. In fact, it will start getting really bad even sooner than that.
Remember 2007? It wasn’t that long ago, was it? That is the same amount of time we have left going forward before a major planetary disaster strikes. And so far we are not doing enough to stop it. Why do you suppose that is?
Part of the reason is because fools like Donald Trump are in charge of things. They keep the parasitic narrative, the one that says climate change is a hoax, alive. They believe that, even if climate change is true, their wealth will keep them safe, and climate change is only going to hurt the poor. Donald Trump and people like him don’t give a shit about the poor.
Of course, the joke is on Trump. If Trump is still alive in twelve years, his wealth will not save him. No one’s wealth will save them. Climate change won’t care how much money you have in the bank. Climate change is what you might call an equal opportunity killer.
Even so, many fools believe Trump, even though he doesn’t reflexively know that there were no airplanes during the Revolutionary War, even though he doesn’t read books, even though he has the vocabulary of a nine year old, and so on. But then, many of those fools also believe that the earth is 10,000 years old, so they’re accustomed to believing stupid things, uttered by people unqualified to comment, concerning things they know absolutely nothing about.
And, truth be told, our Democratic candidates for president aren’t doing a whole heck of a lot better. Many of them are secretly minimally concerned about global warming, and they are what are being called “global lukewarmers.” Oh sure, they pay lip service to the idea that something needs to be done, but they do not believe the threat is particularly imminent or urgent. They are more interested in advancing causes that won’t matter a hill of beans in twelve years if we are all dead, or if we are well on our way to being dead. Pretty stupid, huh?
Of course, I may be wrong. Most climate scientists believe it, though. Some of them think the picture is slightly less dire, slightly less urgent than the one I paint here, but others think it’s far worse. Some of them think it’s too late to do anything about it and we’re doomed no matter what.
The real question is, where do you plan to lay your bets? Are you prepared to bet that everything will be all right? If so, on what basis do you do so? A whim? The word of a bunch of politicians? Wishful thinking? The thing of it is, this is a bet about everything. Your life, the lives of your children, the lives of your grandchildren, the fate of our sacred home. Under what circumstances would any sane person be so casual as that about a bet with so much to lose? And if you’re not willing to do anything, think about what you’re protecting: our right to burn fossil fuel until it’s all gone. And why exactly is that such a great bargain?
If we leave it to our politicians to act it might never get done. We need to make it a condition of our vote that they are signed on all the way, and never let them forget, that arresting climate change needs to be their number one priority if they want to keep their jobs. If we do, maybe, just maybe, there might still be time to rescue our perfect blue jewel in the night sky.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.