CLIMATE CHANGE 2019
Measured every year since 1958, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases by another 2 parts per million. From a pre-industrial level of 350 ppm CO2, we are now at 411 ppm and rising. That rise is mainly the result of the release of CO2 from burning gigantic amounts of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas since the start of the industrial age. CO2 greenhouse gas molecules resonate with infrared radiation and bounce portions of the sun's heat back to the earth instead of letting the heat energy naturally radiate to outer space. This is a process that is getting way out of whack.
More CO2 means more radiant heat. Burning more coal, gas and oil means a warmer earth. It is undoing the homeostasis that our species has depended on for thousands of years. It is causing changes in a time frame to which existing complex life forms like you can’t adapt. Bacteria can, but not ravens and salmon and bears.
Over half of all emissions—ever—from burning fossils fuels have been released into the atmosphere in just the last 3 decades. We’ve unearthed millions of years’ worth of the remains of carbon units like animals, plants and bacteria who made food using the sun’s energy. They were compressed and heated in the earth and turned into coal and oil and gas. But we need to keep them in the ground now, and turn back to the sun and wind for our energy needs, as well as developing smarter ways to live.
Our species has less than 12 years to keep the earth from warming to over 1.5 degrees Celsius. To do that, all nations and especially the U.S. have to cut our CO2 emissions in half or face cataclysmic climate change. Even at that we will still face more extreme weather events every year.
We know from human and other animal studies that fear induces freezing and passivity.
Being part of a group with a common goal of addressing climate change gives individuals courage to face realities and demand change. We need motivation to make change on a national scale and to demand large-scale climate change mitigation action.
League of Women Voters’ UN Observers for Climate worked with Paris Agreement Parties at the International Conference in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. 2018 was the second year in a row that LWV attended COP (Conference of Parties) and, with training and exposure to the complicated UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) processes, our voice continues to be amplified to encourage member states to include women’s, human, and indigenous rights in the implementation rules negotiated at COP 24.
The next COP (25) will be held in Chile sometime in Late 2019. LWV Ozaukee member Claire Vanderslice attended COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009 with the support of our League. During the last 10 years more and more Americans, especially youth, are demanding that our nation deal with climate change. This Earth Day, we encourage you to learn more about what the League is doing to protect our environment.