FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Lowering Window on Climate

Recently at a wedding reception I was chatting with a woman in her 60’s. She was appreciating me for my involvement in Seattle 350, a group trying to stop climate chaos. She told me she could not be involved because of the time she was spending with her grandchildren. She stated that she did not expect climate change to be solved in her lifetime. I said: “Well, unfortunately, if we do not solve it in your lifetime your grandchildren will not have a livable planet.” She looked stricken and said: “Oh no, Lynn, is that really true?” This is not the sort of thing one wants to say at a wedding, but yes, it is true.

My friend is a reasonably well informed and caring person, but the problem is that when major media insists upon untruthfully reporting that the scientists studying  climate change are not in agreement, they misinform the public and contaminate the debate. Fully 97 percent of climate scientists not only agree that climate change is real and man-made, but they also tell us that we have a very limited amount of time to do something about it before it is too late. They tell us 350 parts per million carbon is the atmosphere is the limit that we can safely live with and that we have just topped 400 ppm!

The scientists tell us that we have a very short window to turn that around before we reach tipping points that will set loose a massive cascade of carbon/hotter atmosphere/more carbon. A tipping point is something like the melting of the permafrost, thus releasing massive stored carbon, or the melting of the ice caps, raising water levels so high that sea-level cities flood and cannot be “unflooded,” or the acidification of the ocean which then kills most sea life. If we do not change the course we are on we face a future where, in just a few decades, much of the planet will be uninhabitable. It is not like a thermostat that can simply be lowered again if we change our minds or get around to changing it. Some changes are permanent.

Because the politicians always talk about climate change as a problem that we have to solve for our “grandchildren,” it leaves us thinking of this as a distant problem. So let me be clear about time frames. Only if you are likely to die in the next seven years is this not an issue that will affect you. For those in their 60’s and older, this will affect your old age, your children’s and your grandchildren’s lives. If you are in your 50’s this will affect what your retirement will be like (even more than the potential cancellation of Social Security), what your children’s adult lives will be like, and intensely affect your grandchildren. If you are in your 40’s it will affect the quality of most of the last half of your life, your children’s whole lives and whether you even have grandchildren. Children the age of my 16-year-old daughter rightly face their future with a certain terror.

We are going to have to get clear about our priorities. Not just in how we use carbon. (Why are you getting in the car? Do you really need to? Do you really need a car?) But also in how we spend our time. Yes, we all have compelling things going on in our lives. But we also all waste time. As a species we are running out of time to waste. If in a not-too-distant future the youngest ones in your life are living with whole parts of the US made uninhabitable from drought, forest fires, pest invasions, massive storms and flooding, how will you feel? How will you answer their question: “What were you doing during the turning point?” Watching Dancing with the Stars, or at least trying to stop the deadly changes?

Lynn Fitz-Hugh, Seattle, is a mother, therapist, Coördinator for 350 Seattle, and writes for PeaceVoice.

 

More articles by:

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail