This Earth Day is particularly special: more than 130 countries will gather at the United Nations in New York to sign the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.
The Obama Administration, which showed significant global leadership in getting 196 countries to sign onto the Paris Climate Agreement and particularly, getting China and India to take climate action, has been doing its level best against irrational obstruction by the Fossil Fuel caucus in the Congress, as well as Republican-dominated states and Petro companies that are suing the Administration to roll back his historic Clean Power Plan.
Lately, Bernie Sanders has been bringing Native Americans into his stump speech, reminding not only the debt to indigenous people that has been reneged on but also to remind Americans of the respect, incorporated into spiritual practice, the Native Americans pay Mother Earth. He follows this by raising the alarm for climate action.
“We have got to realize that this is a global environmental crisis of unprecedented urgency,” he said at the Democratic debate in Brooklyn. “You know, if we, God forbid, were attacked tomorrow the whole country would rise up and say we got an enemy out there and we got to do something about it. That was what 9/11 was about. We have an enemy out there, and that enemy is going to cause drought and floods and extreme weather disturbances. There’s going to be international conflict.
“We have got to lead the world in transforming our energy system, not tomorrow, but yesterday. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough. We have a global crisis. Pope Francis reminded us that we are on a suicide course.”
2014 and 2015 were both the hottest year on record, and 2016 is on pace to break the record yet again.
Earlier this month, new research on ocean conditions concluded that melting Antarctic ice could drive sea levels up by more than three feet in the next century, jeopardizing cities like Miami, New York, and Houston. Wildfire seasons now start earlier and burn longer, presenting a constant danger in some parts of the country. And heat waves are increasing in frequency and intensity. It’s not too late to find a solution, but it is too late to let climate change deniers refuse to accept the evidence.
It is said that the threat of climate change and global warming isn’t resonating because it is a “slow march” – as invisible as the wind, or affecting some distant place. But tell that to the thousands of communities who have been harmed at some point or another by floods, droughts, hurricane, tornadoes, rising sea levels (already). The impact of climate change is very immediate: it can change lives in a heartbeat.
But climate change is also causing a public health crisis. The EPA just released a report The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, which documents the close connection between public health: rising asthma rates, worsening allergy conditions, tens of thousands more deaths from heat stroke, malnutrition as food sources lose nutrients along with the impacts of drought, wildfires, and flooding on crop production, spread of diseases such as Zika, Lyme, and West Nile through the expanding habitat for the insects that carry them, and even exacerbation of mental illness because of the stress and trauma caused by extreme weather events.
“The major finding is that climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people not just in the future but right now. As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health will grow, exacerbating existing health threats and creating new public health challenges, and impacting more people in more places.” From children, to pregnant women, to the elderly and disabled, every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change, now and in the future. Certain groups are particularly vulnerable, including people living in poverty (who are also likely to live near environmental contamination and pollution, curtailing life expectancy from four to 10 years).
“President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will reduce the carbon pollution that drives climate change by 32 percent by 2030 — and it will make this nation healthier, helping to reduce premature deaths and asthma attacks in kids. We’re also enjoying massive growth in clean, renewable energy industries, especially solar and wind power. Tackling climate change isn’t just good for our health and our environment, it’s good for the economy,” writes Jack Shapiro, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Organizing for Action.
“But climate change deniers in Congress and at the state level have willfully rejected scientific analysis and ignored potential threats. We’re seeing the consequences of inaction more clearly every day. The clearer the danger becomes, the more irresponsible it gets for anyone to stand in the way of efforts to protect our families and communities,
“Even when progress at the national level is hindered by Congress’ worst climate change deniers, we can keep momentum moving forward at the local level. OFA supporters have played important roles in helping cities and states make big strides in building clean energy infrastructure, and cutting carbon pollution.
“We can’t stop climate change completely, but we can take action before the consequences become irreversible.” Shapiro states.
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