What would you do, if your doctor told you that you had only several more years to get your cancer under control — or watch your disease become virtually untreatable? I’m pretty sure I’d pay attention. And if a doctor told me that about my child’s disease? I would move heaven and earth to get him the proper care. Of course.
That’s how I’m thinking about the latest: A shocking new report from an international group of climate scientists is ringing alarm bells as loudly as I have ever heard. The 91 esteemed scientists from 40 countries are warning that if we continue emitting methane and carbon the way we are now, by 2040 rising temperatures will have triggered uncontrollable events.
2040. Let that sink in. Twenty-some years ahead. I will be an old woman — but chances are good I’ll still be around; my dad is still here, at 94. My grandchild will be a young adult — his parents will be younger than I am now. That grandchild might be having conversations with his friends about whether or not they should bring children into a chaotic world — just as we did, back in the 60s and 70s, when we talked about civilization-obliterating bombs. Mutually Assured Destruction. Remember that?
Mutually Assured Destruction. We’re back at it, again. This time, we are destroying our world with heat-trapping gases.
By 2040 I will have voted for a president six more times.
By 2040, we probably will be seeing communities clear out of coastal towns. Millions of people will be evacuating unlivable parts of the world, where temperatures hover over 115 degrees — day and night. Wildfire seasons will last longer and be more intense. The list of probable calamities goes on.
We have a huge amount to do, all over the world, in order to clean up our energy sources. Carbon emissions in the US have dropped in the past decade, though they are beginning to rise again. We are burning less coal, using more natural gas. Production of that gas, however, has introduced a steep increase in methane emissions. And methane is an even worse problem, more powerful and intense, in the short term, when it comes to trapping heat on our planet.
Meanwhile we have a president who does not “believe” in climate change. Trump opposes any policy that cuts carbon and methane emissions. He is joined in his denial by most Republican lawmakers and most members of his cabinet. In other words — their collective response to the disasters ahead (never mind the ones happening now) is to do nothing. We have given up our position of world leadership on tackling this terrible pollution problem.
We are paralyzed at the federal level. Thankfully, important work is being done in cities and states to cut carbon and methane. Think about Pennsylvania and Colorado trying to rein in methane emissions. Think of the Northeastern states banding together to cut carbon emissions, and California and a dozen other states banding together to cut the car and truck pollution that contributes to global warming. Think even of the fossil fuel companies that have announced that they are cutting methane emissions.
We know what to do. We just aren’t doing enough — and we aren’t doing it fast enough.
I have to be honest: this is one of those times when all of us at Moms Clean Air Force want to put our heads down on our desks and weep. Things look hopeless.
But then I think about our children, again. What’s our alternative? To just walk away from the problem? Give up? Shrug, and tell our children, sorry. Too hard. You can suffer. And maybe, magically, something will happen to restore balance. Knock on wood.
It is looking more and more like we will be around, right here, when our children ask: Why didn’t you stop this catastrophe — a simple pollution problem, with lots of solutions!
I walk around thinking: We are not scared enough. But I’m scared enough to keep fighting.
And I’m outraged. Deeply angry that our political process is so vulnerable to being highjacked by science deniers and corporate profiteers.
And I’m hopeful. So much is being done, right now: Real cuts. Real time. It means we can do better, and more.
But more and better are only going to happen if more moms keep at it, getting better and better at this fight of our lifetimes. We are talking about a fight for climate safety. The fight of our lives, and our children’s lives.