If you're trying hard to lose weight that you've gained exponentially in the previous year, would it make more sense to eat fried chicken for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, or to eliminate fried foods from your diet altogether?
Dennis Trainor Jr. compared the climate conference of the world's leading fossil fuel consumers in Qatar to Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy sitting alone in a room deciding how they should be punished for their crimes. The world's industrialized nations, particularly the U.S., have only been increasing their use of fossil fuels dramatically even as climate change wreaks its havoc on hundreds of millions of people all over the world. The longer we hold out on enacting real solutions to these real problems, things will only get worse.
The fires that dealt a huge blow to Russia's grain export economy in 2010, the floods that destroyed Pakistan that same year, the droughts that are plaguing the American Midwest and the winter storm that's just recently crippled New England all have the same root cause. An ozone layer weakened by an overabundance of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere is gradually dislodging ice sheets and acidifying oceans, causing sea levels to rise at a rapid level. Those rising sea levels put more moisture in the air, meaning that precipitation that was supposed to normally fall in Russia got carried over and dumped into Pakistan, creating the dry conditions that led to Russia's fires and turning Pakistan's monsoon season into floods that left millions of people without homes, not to mention numerous children without parents.
The new moisture in the air also warmed temperatures in a normally cold New England fall, making conditions ripe for an October hurricane that flooded Manhattan and all but swept away parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island. That same change in the climate warmed the air just enough during what would normally be a frigid New England winter to milder temperatures at or just below freezing. So instead of Boston having a 2-degree low, Boston got 2 feet of snow. While it remains to be seen what the total cost of damage will be from Winter Storm Nemo, Hurricane Sandy cost businesses in the New York area at least $50 billion. Russia's halting of grain exports in 2010 likely led to the skyrocketing of food prices that sparked the Arab Spring protests across the Middle East. Climate change isn't just endangering people's lives and communities, but entire economies as well.
In a Buzzfeed interview, GOP Senator Marco Rubio didn't deny climate change is happening, but said there was some "debate" as to the causes. However, a climate change study funded by the right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers, both of whom finance the campaigns of politicians who vow to gut environmental regulations and deny climate change is man-made, found that these latest alarming changes in the climate are indeed man-made. There really isn't a "debate" anymore, and hasn't been for awhile, since the only debate that existed was between scientists who study the climate and paid lackeys of oil barons who profit from creating the conditions that lead to climate change.
As the world's largest economy and second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the United States has the obligation to be a leader in addressing climate change and mitigating its effects. Other countries have set examples we can live up to -- Denmark went from 100 percent fossil fuel dependency to 30 percent wind power in one generation. Uruguay has a plan to generate 25 percent of their country's electricity with wind power by 2015. Germany is already generating 40 percent of its power from the sun. We could achieve similar results with a cap-and-trade system that would fund future investments in building clean energy infrastructure across America. But instead of trying these tried-and-true tactics from other countries, we're running in the opposite direction.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would take dirty oil from the Alberta tar sands, drastically raise global temperatures and pipe the through the Great Plains to Houston, where it would be exported to Europe and South America. The project is about to get a final yes or no from President Obama very soon, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. While Obama said no to the original route TransCanada proposed, he's been ambiguous about whether or not he'll give the green light for a new pipeline route that activists are already risking arrest to block. Tens of thousands of activists are about to descend on Washington, D.C. to demand the president move forward on addressing climate change and say no to Keystone XL on Sunday, Feb. 17.
If the doctor gave you only six more months to live based on your current diet, any reasonable person who wants to live would eat fruits and vegetables instead of more fried chicken. We need to stop our nation's unhealthy and fatal addiction to fossil fuels, before climate change wipes us all out.
Follow C. Robert Gibson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/crgibs