U.N. climate report shows civilization is at stake if we don’t act now

U.N. climate report shows civilization is at stake if we don’t act now
photo--Chicago Tribune

Monday, October 15--

It's a chilly October day in Chicago. Friday, the sky looked like November, and the first traces of snow fell in LaSalle County. Saturday was bright and sunny for the Women's March downtown to get out the vote in November. The sky was glorious blue.

Last week, the United Nations issued a special climate report. It's over 1000 pages, but the New York Times has a summary. You can read it here. The report shows the world as we know it is at stake if we don’t act now. We as humans have maybe 12 years to avoid catastrophe.

Can we do it? Can we radically transform the way we live?  We will have to be resourceful and resilient. We will have to re-think how we live--where we live, how we go from place to place, the coffee we drink, where our food and our clothes come from.

This means more than not eating meat or to stop using plastic bags. It is the whole world, connected--local, and global.

There are also powerful interests invested in the status quo.  They would  give tax breaks to oil companies, coal companies, relax pollution controls and deregulate pesticides.  They know they don't have much time. Their motives are short-term profits, at the expense of the rest of us. Indeed, at the expense of the rest of the world.

There is no time for denial or debate. Even Donald Trump who called climate change a "Chinese hoax" is now admitting after Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle that "something is changing."

Can we do it? Yes, we can, and we are not alone.

Note--The photo above is from the Chicago Tribune, the aftermath of the Ground Hog Day Blizzard of 2011.              I decided to use it because it looks catastrophic, but  there is also a determined resilience.

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  • The last ice age ended in the Middle Ages, when peasants were still getting around in Fred Flintstone foot-powered cars.

    Time Magazine warned of us an ice age in 1975; then a slow boil a decade later.

    Al Gore predicted that the only traffic Miami would be by gondola by now.

    Here's the thing. Ever watch a locomotive or semi stop? Takes a long time. Ain't nothing a person can do to stop any alleged man-made climate change by not eating a burger or roller skating to work.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    So you've justified the alt-right view that we should have kept Scott Pruitt and done nothing, if not accelerate the problem. Typical chef sophistry.

    BTW, weren't you the one who said you didn't reply to posters who didn't reveal real names? Weather Girl isn't a real name, but somehow you replied.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Weren't you also the one who repeated in continued denier Byrne's blog the old saw about a Hurricane not hitting the mainland in 12 years, notwithstanding whatever Sandy was. Have Harvey, Irma, and Michael convinced you that you were wrong?

  • Thank you for reading, Richard. Yes, it's not just about burgers and cars. It's the things we value, the attitude of scarcity and selfishness--and the enormous income inequality. This is a global issue, and a human rights issue to me.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I think you're right about it as a global issue. We need to stop thinking of environment as local and think of it as planetary, as much as we can. My actions in Chicago can affect my friend in Hawaii and my cousins in the U.K., and even those without such links need to start thinking more about being like a friend who, when asked to fill in his race on a form, wrote "Human."

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thank you for reading! Yes, people, this earth, the natural world, it's all connected.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I got a hybrid car. At least I go to the gas station half as often.

  • In reply to jack:

    thank you for reading, Jack! I wonder if someday gas stations will seem as quaint as phone booths do now...

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    There would have to be a network of quick chargers. The regional malls around here have 4 or so, but it's going to take more.

    Again an aside, CTA has pointed out in its budget that it has contracted for 20 electric buses, but the quick chargers are about as expensive as the buses themselves.

  • In reply to jack:

    We can do it, Jack! The CTA is on the right track. Chicago is also one of many cities that support the Paris Agreement.

  • I'll add a relevant aside. I was watching a Korean program (with subtitles) saying that Korea would be wiped out with a Katrina type typhoon in 2041. The real point is that hurricanes like Katrina became explosively more powerful when they hit a hot water spot in the Gulf. Their prediction was that Tampa Bay would be hit next with something similarly catastrophic. It was by Irma, but "only" at 110 mph, so the entire Bay didn't empty into Ybor City, as feared.

    Recently, Michael quickly went from a Cat 1 to Cat 4 in next to no time over the Gulf.

    Something is certainly happening.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes! The warmer waters are making these storms much worse.
    Michael is an alarming example of things to come.

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