Joseph Weinberger, a climate activist and second-year UCLA medical student, says it is already too late to stop climate change. Speaking as a member of the progressive Jewish community, he says we are past the time of “Tikkun Olam” (fixing the world), using a Hebrew phrase.
Meanwhile, Biden’s $1.7 trillion climate plan aims to remove carbon from the power grid by 2035. Biden’s recovery act would provide millions of jobs and attempt to save the planet from its sixth mass extinction, the first from human action.
Weinberger says the global climate tipping points for climate change are about to be, or already have, been triggered.
Carbon Tipping Points
He quotes Australian National University emeritus professor Will Steffen’s article in Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences of the United States of America:
“Scientists are warning us that once these carbon tipping points — also called carbon feedback loops — are tripped and the Earth rises by 1.5 degrees to 2 degrees Celsius, “We could be on an irreversible path towards a Hothouse Earth scenario away from the Stabilized Earth system that our lives, societies, and cultures have developed.
The Earth has warmed by 1-degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Revolution from 1850 to 1900.
“We could be on an irreversible path towards a Hothouse Earth scenario away from the Stabilized Earth system that our lives, societies, and cultures have developed,” he says.
Such a Hothouse would affect food, water, energy, and national security, making the world uninhabitable for all but a few.
Steffens states further in a Resilience article:
“We are already deep into the trajectory towards the collapse of civilization, which may now be inevitable because 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated.
“Evidence shows we will also lose control of the tipping points for the Amazon rainforest, the West Antarctic Ice sheet, and the Greenland sheet in much less time than it’s going to take us to get to net-zero emissions.”
A Titanic Endgame
“If the Titanic realizes that it’s in trouble and it has about 5km that it needs to slow and steer the ship, but it’s only 3km away from the iceberg, it’s already doomed,” Steffen concludes.
A New Yorker article written by Elizabeth Kolbert describes the severe droughts and punishing wildfires in Australia that have “killed 19 people and millions of animals, including a significant portion of koala bears” during Australia’s previous summer and the Northern Hemisphere’s 2020 New Year.
“As Australia was roasting [reporting 107- degree temperatures] flooding in Indonesia killed at least 40 people,” Kolbert writes.
“Meanwhile, the planet’s ice sheets will continue to melt, as will the Arctic ice cap. It’s possible that by 2030 the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free at the end of summer,” Kolbert reports.
This year’s California’s and Colorado’s wildfires were as severe as Australia’s wildfires last year. The 188,000-acre Colorado fires have demolished homes, ranches, resorts, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Biden’s $2 Trillion Plan Won’t “Right the Ship”
Commenting on Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion climate proposal, Weinberger says it’s a step in the right direction “but won’t right the ship, as we need to stop burning carbon now.” The former Vice President’s proposal calls for the elimination of fossil fuels from the power grid by 2035
(Biden’s plan is different from the Green New Deal, Biden made clear at the first presidential debate.)
Through tax credits, it would provide millions of jobs for American auto companies to manufacture electric vehicles and invest in R&D, so the U.S. and not China would be the world leader in electric vehicle production.
Biden’s stimulus would also provide jobs to build roads and bridges and give disadvantaged communities bandwidth to access cable TV and Wi-Fi.
It would also construct 1.5 million sustainable housing units and clean up pollution from oil and gas wells and coal mining sites.
The proposal links climate activism to racial justice. For example, since impoverished urban regions often lack greenery, they become “heat islands” in the summer that result in asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Fossil Fuel Companies Tout Carbon Capture
Voters in Pennsylvania and Texas, where fracking is integral to the economy, were infuriated when Biden said that he’d end fossil fuel subsidies during the final debate.
However, most big oil companies are already developing alternative methods to capture carbon at refineries and chemical plants.
For example, Exxon Mobile has teamed up with the start-up FuelCell to develop “carbon capture,” a technology using battery-like devices that capture fossil fuels and store them in fuel cells. Carbon capture is “an essential technology that can help the world reach the Paris goals,” Exxon Mobile writes.
The joint venture aims to capture up to 90% of CO2 emissions from exhaust streams.
BP said that it would slash oil and gas production by 40 percent during the next ten years and increase investments of renewables tenfold, to $5 billion a year, The New York Times reports.
However, the U.S. oil industry, which has donated much more to Trump’s campaign than to Biden’s, has been reluctant to embrace sustainable energy.
“There needs to be a large workhorse, and ultimately that is what we are,” George Stark, director of external affairs for Cabot Oil and Gas–which has extensive natural gas operations in Pennsylvania–told the New York Times.
“We complement wind and solar. You need something that can run on an ongoing basis.”
Sixth Mass Extinction
Meanwhile, the world is losing species at a rate that is 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate,” Weinberger notes.
Greenhouse gases are making the oceans more acidic, leading to the death of coral reefs and marine life. This change is affecting a billion people in low-lying island nations, which depend on fish for trade.
Weinberger sees coronavirus as a symptom of our decline. “Coronavirus is a symptom of our degraded relationship with the natural world,” Weinberger says. “Part of what led to the Coronavirus can lead to other infectious diseases encroaching on habitats that were left alone for eons.”
“The more we keep deforesting, the more we’ll come into conflict with zoonotic infectious diseases. Both HIV and Ebola originated from other species.
“The pumping of carbon dioxide into the environment is also devastating to our health. Approximately 5.5 million deaths could be prevented by reducing air pollution,” Weinberger says.