Home Global warming As the planet heats up, let’s be clear: We’re sacrificing lives for profit

As the planet heats up, let’s be clear: We’re sacrificing lives for profit

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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently released a bombshell announcement that should have made headlines in major global and US media, but didn’t. A new WMO study concludes that “[t]there is a 50:50 chance that the annual average global temperature will temporarily reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years.

WMO Secretary General Professor Petteri Taalas explained: “The 1.5 degree Celsius figure is not a random statistic. Rather, it is an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful to people and even to the entire planet.

In 2015, the probability of reaching this threshold within five years was almost nil. In 2017 it was 10% and today it is 50%. As we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in dizzying amounts, this percentage is increasing year by year and will soon reach 100% certainty.

When average global temperatures reach the tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius, climatologists predict that most of Earth’s coral reefs will die. At 2 degrees Celsius, everything will die. This is why members of the United Nations united to avoid an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius at the last global climate rally in 2021.

The planet has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the consequences are disastrous worldwide.

India is experiencing its worst heat wave in 122 years, and neighboring Pakistan has broken a 61-year record of high temperatures. Dozens of people have already died from the oppressive heat.

In France, farmers “can see the earth cracking every day”, as a record drought has plunged the country’s agricultural industry into crisis mode.

Here in the United States, in the central and northeast parts of the country, there is such a large and severe heat wave that people from Texas to Maine experienced triple digit temperatures in May.

Even the wealthy enclave of Laguna Niguel in Orange County, Southern California, is on fire and dozens of homes have been destroyed. Although wealthy elites have far more resources to stay protected from the deadly impacts of climate change than the rest of us, sometimes even their homes are on the way to destruction, indicating that nowhere on Earth will be safe on a catastrophically warming planet.

Ironically, as extreme heat waves become more likely with global warming, humans will burn more fossil fuels to power the air conditioning they need to cool down and survive, thus fueling the very phenomenon that leads to heat waves. more extreme heat.

In such a scenario, it is obvious for the world to switch quickly and without delay to renewable energy sources. Instead, President Joe Biden announced in April the sale of new leases allowing oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, reneging on the climate promises of his campaign platform.

Biden did so apparently in an effort to increase domestic fuel supplies and thereby lower gas prices. He also increased the percentage of royalties companies pay to the federal government from 12.5% ​​to 18.75%. But no amount of money saved by consumers or earned in royalties by the federal government can stop the laws of physics and protect the climate.

the New York TimesLisa Friedman explained, “The burning of fossil fuels extracted from public lands and federal waters accounts for 25% of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States, which is the second largest polluter on the planet, behind China. Here is an area where the federal executive branch has control, and yet financial considerations have dictated responses rather than existential responses.

After climate activists strongly denounced the move, Biden eventually canceled drilling leases for Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The Home Office cited a “lack of industry interest” and “conflicting court rulings”, rather than pressure from activists, as the reason for the cancellation. Either way, it’s a small measure of relief for a planet that’s about to burn.

While Biden (and other lawmakers) claim they’re driven by rising inflation and the impact of high gas prices on voters’ wallets, it turns out the public doesn’t get it. really want to a glut of oil and gas to help keep costs down.

A new poll by the National Energy and Environment Surveys has revealed that there is no longer skepticism among the public about the reality of the effects of climate change, as 76% of respondents – the highest never recorded since the survey began – “believe there is strong evidence that temperatures on the planet have increased over the past four decades.

The poll also notably concluded that “Americans continue to prioritize reducing greenhouse gas emissions as their preferred approach to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change,” and that they “remain skeptical of any pivot in the mitigation towards a climate policy that prioritizes adaptation, the use of geo-engineering or underground carbon storage.

So rather than investing in or adapting to climate change mitigation, which market economies favor, people reasonably want to prevent the planet from warming in the first place.

Yet climate scientists increasingly fear that it is already too late for a transition to renewable energy. Although energy sources such as solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cheaper and more accessible, overall energy consumption is growing about as rapidly, according to a recent study.

Mark Diesendorf, the author of the study, explained: “It is simply impossible for renewables to exceed this declining target. And it’s not the fault of renewables. Blame it on the growth in consumption and the fact that action was delayed too late.

Because corporate profit-based considerations have consistently dictated our energy use and climate policies, we have effectively decided that major sacrifices of lives – most likely poor people of color – are worth depending on fuels. fossils for energy.

There is an analogy to be found in the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, scientists have sounded the alarm on prevention, endorsing lockdowns, masks and vaccines to stop the spread of the deadly virus, just as climatologists have issued warnings of global warming for decades. Both science-based campaigns have faced uphill battles, each with their own challenges in recommending the most rational guidelines to maximize public safety despite the financial sacrifices (most businesses and restaurants closed and trips canceled). major sporting and entertainment events, in the case of COVID-19; promoting solar power subsidies, switching to wind power and manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles, in the case of the climate crisis). All the while, corporate interests and right-wing political opportunists have successfully pushed their own agenda through the halls of power, insisting that economic growth is the most important consideration.

Today, even as COVID-19 infection rates soar, with cases rising 58% in the past two weeks alone, mask mandates being dropped across the country and restrictions on COVID-19 come to an end. This is not because the virus is under control – it clearly isn’t – but because it is no longer financially viable for corporate America to sacrifice profits for lives. Thus, it will sacrifice lives for profit, just as it is with the climate crisis.

It is worth clarifying this equation so that we know where we are going.

As the climate changes, we are beginning to see where the bodies are buried, literally. Water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead have dropped so dramatically that the remains of at least two human bodies have recently been discovered. What other disturbing discoveries await us?

Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali”, a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a contributing editor for the Independent Media Institute’s Economy for All project.

This article was produced by Economy for alla project of the Independent Media Institute.