This past week a New York Times op ed written by former Secretary of State, John Kerry offered a clear message to Hawai’i, America, and the world” “Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change”.
During last week’s third anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, the Trump administration marked it by working with Russia and Gulf oil nations to sideline science and undermine the accord at climate talks underway in Katowice, Poland. At the same time, I’ve been reading Bob Woodward’s fascinating and somewhat sympathetic book of insights on inside the Trump White House, titled ‘FEAR’. During a Boston appearance last week Woodward also revealed to his audience a remarkable admission: The president, he said, “makes decisions often without a factual basis.” This isn’t a mere personality quirk of the leader of the free world. It is profoundly dangerous for the entire planet.
Kerry who was instrumental in spearheading the Paris Accord on behalf of America, went on to write ‘… Scientists tell us we must act now to avoid the ravages of climate change. The collision of facts and alternative facts has hurt America’s efforts to confront this existential crisis. Ever since Mr. Trump announced that he would pull America out of the Paris accord, those of us in the fight have worked to demonstrate that the American people are still in.
But the test is not whether the nation’s cities and states can make up for Mr. Trump’s rejection of reality. They can. The test is whether the nations of the world will pull out of the mutual suicide pact that we’ve all passively joined through an inadequate response to this crisis.
Talk to leaders who are gathered in Poland. They acknowledge that we aren’t close to getting the job done in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. People are dying today because of climate change, and many more will die and trillions of dollars of damage to property will occur unless America gets back in the fight’.
Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma cost the United States some $265 billion in damages. Historic droughts are matched by historic floods. Heat waves stole 153 billion hours of labor globally last year. Infectious diseases are moving into new areas and higher altitudes. Crop yields are down in more than two dozen countries, and by 2050 the Midwestern United States could see agricultural productivity drop to its lowest level in decades — and this is a mere preview of what’s to come.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the changes required to hold global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), as called for in the Paris agreement, would require changes on a scale with “no documented historic precedent.’ Fossil fuel emissions are forecast to go up by 2.7 percent worldwide this year. Instead of reining them in, the Trump administration would unleash more —
- First, it replaced the previous Clean Power Plan with an EPA rule that now allows power plants to unload 12 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; a throwback and lifeline to make coal great again.
- Second, instead of controlling vehicle fuel emissions, the Trump administration is rolling back fuel economy standards that the auto industry had previously embraced and that would have saved hundreds of millions dollars for consumers in fuel costs.
- Third, instead of keeping a lid on methane, EPA rule changes now in the works will make it more likely that this highly potent greenhouse gas will be freely discharged by oil and gas extractors and refineries into the atmosphere, further accelerating global warming.
It is as if the Trump administration’s energy and environmental policies are based on 1950’s science and norms of that time, free from the reality of social, economic, and environmental consequences of pollution and policies bent on destroying planetary norms in which all life, including Republicans and Democrats alike, are equally dependent.
What About Hawai’i – climate change means Hawaii faces real time threats from rising temperatures, rising oceans, and super storms
Scientists tell us we must act now to avoid the ravages of global warming, and Hawai’i is far from being exempt from the consequences of a warming planet.
Climate change will eventually affect nearly every aspect of life in Hawaii. Rising air and ocean temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and changing ocean chemistry are already affecting people and individual ecosystems across Hawaii’s chain of islands.
Because Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands are almost entirely dependent upon imported food, fuel, and material, the vulnerability of ports and airports to extreme events, sea level rise, and increasing wave heights is an a increasing concern and projected likelihood for which Hawaii is not prepared.
Future generations will measure us by whether we acted on facts, not just debated or denied them. The verdict will hang on whether we put in place policies that will drive the development and deployment of clean technologies, re-energize our economies, and tackle global climate change.
‘If we fail, future generations will judge us all as failures, not just this president.’ John F. Kerry