Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg scolded the world's adults today at the U.N. Climate Action Summit.
Unfortunately, the American President didn't listen to Ms. Thunberg's speech. He dropped by the summit...but didn't stay. He also hasn't read the 2015 Department of Defense report on the national security risks caused by climate change. Instead, the current occupant of the White House has spent the last two and a half years dismantling the nation's environmental protections.
I doubt he would have understood why she was upset since he believes that "...the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese..."
MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS AGO?
In her speech, Thunberg said that it's been more than thirty years since the science became "crystal clear." In 1971, Isaac Asimov wrote an essay called, The End. In it, he wrote about the inevitable damage to the Earth from the use of fossil fuels.
If the present carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere were merely to double, the average temperature of the Earth would increase by 3.6° C. We might be able to stand the warmer summers and the milder winters but what of the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica?It didn't take a century...the ice caps are melting now...less than fifty years later.
At the higher temperatures, the ice caps would lose more ice in the summer than they would regain in the winter. They would begin to melt year by year at an accelerating pace and the sea level would inexorably rise. By the time all the ice caps were melted, the sea level would be at least 200 feet higher than it is and the ocean, at low tide, would lap about the twentieth floor of the Empire State Building. All the lowlands of Earth, containing it's most desirable farmland and its densest load of population would be covered by rolling waters.
At the rate at which fossil fuels are being increasingly used now, the ice caps will be melting rapidly about a century from now...
Thirty years ago -- in 1989 -- Asimov again warned us about the Greenhouse Effect. This time he said there was a need for the world to cooperate and work together to solve what he saw as a threat to our civilization.
We didn't listen to the science in the 70s and 80s. We continued to play with our toys fueled by coal and oil. Now we have to face the consequences of our actions...the consequences our children and grandchildren will be forced to live with after we're gone. Are we mature enough yet to solve the problem?
SPEECH TO THE U.N. BY GRETA THUNBERG
This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!
You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.
The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.
Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.
So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.
To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.
How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just 'business as usual' and some technical solutions? With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.
There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.
You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.
ASIMOV ON THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT