We Should Have Known

The Democratic Presidential Candidates held their Climate Change Debates earlier this week. They laid out extensive plans to save the planet from what they say is the greatest threat to our existence today. Joe Biden put forward a $1.7 trillion plan for zero carbon emissions. Sen. Bernie Sanders described the situation as similar to the crisis faced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940s. He says his $17 trillion plan will save the planet.

For years we have been lectured by progressives like Al Gore that the end is near (the inconvenient truth is that his predicted date of destruction has already passed) unless we take immediate action on fossil-fired electric generation, manufacturing and public transportation. More recently, progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scream that we only have 12 short years to achieve zero carbon emissions in our electric generation and public transportation fleets to avoid a global apocalypse.

The Paris Climate Accord calls for reductions in the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions in electric generation, manufacturing and public transportation. But we should have known that it would not be enough to save the world. If we were thinking, we would have known those sacrifices would not be enough.

In August, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that verified what we should have known. The Guardian, a UK-based online news reporting organization, summarized the report in an article on their website. They said, “…attempts to solve the climate crisis by cutting carbon emissions from only cars, factories and power plants are doomed to failure … it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a major transformation in the way the world produces and consumes food and manages land.”

According to The Guardian’s summary of the IPCC report, “Humans now exploit 72% of the planet’s ice-free surface to feed, clothe and support Earth’s growing population, the [IPCC] report warns. At the same time, agriculture, forestry and other land use produce almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse emissions. In addition, about one-half of all emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, come from cattle and rice fields, while deforestation and the removal of peatlands cause significant levels of carbon emissions.”

The Guardian says that in the future, these problems are likely to get worse. The IPCC report says, “Climate change exacerbates land degradation through increases in rainfall intensity, flooding, drought frequency and severity, heat stress, wind, sea-level rise and wave action.”

The article provides anecdotal evidence of the crisis. According to them, arctic sea-ice coverage reached near-record lows for July. The July summer heatwave in Europe produced temperatures between 1.5C and 3C degrees higher than normal because of climate change. Global temperatures were 1.2C degrees above pre-industrial levels for the month of July. The article states, “This last figure is particularly alarming, as the IPCC has warned that rises greater than 1.5C risk triggering climatic destabilization while those higher than 2C make such events even more likely.”

The article says that, to prevent disaster, “lands will have to be managed more sustainably so that it releases much less carbon than at present. Peatlands will need to be restored by halting drainage schemes; meat consumption will have to be cut to reduce methane production; while food waste will have to be reduced.”

Specific measures suggested in the article to achieve a reduction in greenhouse emissions include a “major shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets. The consumption of healthy and sustainable diets such as those based on coarse grains, pulses and vegetables, and nuts and seeds…presents major opportunities for reducing greenhouse emissions.”

The article concludes, “There also needs to be a big change in how land is used.” According to the IPCC report, this includes policies to promote “improved access to markets, empowering women farmers, expanding access to agricultural services and strengthening land tenure security.”

The United Nations will hold a conference late in 2020 where delegates will plan the efforts needed to achieve a zero-carbon emission policy and seek global commitment to those goals.

So now we have it. All the work on renewable electric generation to replace fossil fuel use, the replacement of gasoline-powered cars with electric cars, the retirement of coal-fired generation plants, and energy-efficient gains won’t be enough to save us from the horrors of climate change. We will have to do more – much more – to save ourselves. The government will mandate we eat coarse grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables instead of meat. It will mandate how land is used across the world. Government will mandate more women farmers to save the world.

We should have known our sacrifices wouldn’t be enough. We will have to do much more. Our sacrifices will never be enough for the progressive extremists.  And, more importantly, those sacrifices will make absolutely no difference in what happens to the climate or the environment. We should have known.

I hope you have a good month.