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Jul-09-2013 11:35printcomments

The Climate Emergency

Rapid human-induced climate change‹too long neglected‹needs to become a top U.S. financial and political priority. It is humanity¹s deadliest common enemy.

Barack Obama

(WASHINGTON DC) - President Obama launched a long overdue national Climate Action Plan in his Georgetown University speech on June 26, but it did not fully come to grips with the climate emergency already upon us.

While overall the plan deserves enthusiastic support, it is still an early palliative step on the path to stabilizing the climate.

If successful, it would just bring U.S. emissions slightly below where they were in 1990 when we were the world¹s largest carbon polluter, and it proposes only $8 billion for ³clean energy technology across all [Federal] agencies.²

Notably, the President failed to acknowledge that the deteriorating climate represents a true national and global emergency. An emergency has two basic components: it presents a grave threat to life, liberty, property, or the environment, and the situation requires immediate action.

Climate change is obviously already doing grave damage to the Earth, and it threatens to do even more harm, per numerous studies. Thus it satisfies the first condition.


Because damage to the climate is essentially irreversible on time scales of interest to present generations, immediate action is necessary before further irrevocable harm is done. Thus the second condition for an emergency is met.

Data from the World Health Organization indicates that over the past 35 years, more than 5 million people have already died from increases in disease and malnutrition brought on by climate change.

These climate casualties have occurred even though the world has only warmed about 1.4° F since the dawn of industrialization. The future is far more menacing.

If we continue heating the world at the current escalating rate, billions of people will neither have enough water nor sufficient reliable, affordable food supplies, and tens of millions of environmental refugees will be on the move, hungry, sick, and desperate. This is a recipe for increased conflict and chaos in many parts of the world.

The warming to date is but a fraction of the heating that is already in store for us. Even if carbon pollution miraculously fell to zero tomorrow, the atmosphere will get another 1 - 2° F degrees hotter, just from excess heat already absorbed by the oceans due to human activities so far.


But rather than curtailing emissions as much as possible, we¹ve done the opposite. Global heat trapping gas emissions increased 58 percent between 1990 and 2012. We are now on track to increase global average temperatures 7° - 11° F by 2100. Some experts are projecting that 7° F could be reached by 2060 - 2080.

Such temperatures haven¹t been seen on this planet in 5 million years. And those average temperatures would be roughly doubled in the interiors of the continents.

In the over-heated world only a few decades from now, up to 30 percent of the world would be in drought at any given time, up from one percent today. Moreover, an estimated 50 percent of land where crops now grow would become unsuitable for crops.

Climate change has already had an enormous impact. Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and others collectively killed thousands, left millions homeless and caused damages approaching $200 billion. 2012 was the hottest year on record. Much of the nation was stricken with severe, widespread persistent drought, comparable in cost to Sandy.

Because it is upon us and certain to get far worse without effective action, the climate emergency is even more threatening in fundamental ways to our long-term security than the terrorism and conventional military threats on which we spend hundreds of billions a year, or the financial crisis of 2008, when the Federal Reserve committed $7.7 trillion to bail out troubled banks.

Rapid human-induced climate change‹too long neglected‹needs to become a top U.S. financial and political priority. It is humanity¹s deadliest common enemy.

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John J. Berger, Ph.D. specializes in energy and environmental science and is the author and editor of eleven books including Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science (Northbrae Books, 2013) and the forthcoming Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader¹s Guide to the Climate Crisis.

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Anonymous July 9, 2013 9:43 pm (Pacific time)

NO CLIMATE CHANGE ON A GLOBAL LEVEL IS CAUSED BY HUMANS. FOLLOW THE MONEY AL GORE RECEIVES AND THE THUGS WHO GET TAXPAYER FUNDS VIA THE THUGS IN GOVERNMENT.


Pete July 9, 2013 4:33 pm (Pacific time)

Whatever, as soon as you mention the WHO you lose me. I don't want to know how to save the status quo. I do hope this post helps Salem-News though cause it is a popular cause and this web site deserves to thrive.

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