Climate Change - and what you can do about it! 
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted October 22; Updated October 29, 2018;  Disclaimer

What a beautiful day today. The sun is shinning, the temperature outside is 85 degrees F. and no wind. Yes, the author lives in San Diego. Almost perfect except that in 2018 we have had a dry spell [less than four inches of annual rain] and the average temperature for the year is higher than normal. In the past we have had brush fires. So most of San Diegans may be unaware that our weather is silently changing.

climate is The topic of climate change has been ignored by everyone, including politicians, presidents and world leaders; except for a few environmentalists and scientists. There has been an ignorant blackout on information about the severity of climate change. More recently, the lack of air visibility in Asian countries like China and India, has attracted world attention. The emergence of lung cancer among Chinese living in smog polluted Chinese cities has made the Chinese government super aware that China can no longer continue using fossil fuel to generate electricity in power generating plants. The government of China realizes that the country has an immediate climate - survival crisis. Electric powered cars have been mandated to replace replace gasoline powered automobiles as quickly as possible. India has also adopted a similar antipollution policy. Unfortunately, President Trump says climate change is a hoax and he does nothing to stop or reverse it!

A crisis in the making: Oil and gas became useful as fuels to power electric energy plants and provide gasoline as fuel to drive automobiles. Over time, the number of automobiles in the world increased exponentially, driving up air pollution accordingly. Accordingly, the oil industry garnered economic power during the early evolutionary days and it has suppressed a change from fossil fuels to green power and electric autos. 

Air pollution is a symptom of mankind's unrecognized bad habit of using fossil fuels as fuel for automobiles and generating electric power. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the warmer the planet. And every year, by burning coal, oil and gas, humankind belches increasingly obscene quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is the making of climate catastrophe on planet earth!

Video length = 1:13 mns.

Why the confusion? Many governments, politicians and people do not recognize fossil fuels and air pollution as causing the ecosystem of our planet, earth, and that these are bad for human health. Earth as a living planet maintains it's self in many ways. Earth is a complex ecological system that is a living body of interdependent and complex systems. The systems are many and include high atmosphere air currents, ground level winds and rains, ocean currents, earthquakes, volcanoes, and electric currents generated by the earth revolving around its axis. These make earth a live planet.

Prior to 1900, earth was able to sustain life of many organisms by maintaining a housekeeping system that was able to get rid of volcanoes erupting and spewing lava and poisonous gases, forest fire pollution by cleansing the air with rain and so on. But .... in the last 50 years, fossil fuel wastes and gases have gradually increased, making it difficult for earth to neutralize toxic wastes [detoxify in its own way]. Toxic wastes are forming faster than earth can get rid of them and earth has been gradually reacting in a survival manner. 

Mother earth's reaction is to survive and it is reacting in a survival mode. It is man and other organisms that are feeling the changes that mother earth is using as symptoms that it is sick and being poisoned. The advanced changes are referred to as climate change. Climate changes include change in ocean temperature, more severe hurricanes, more forest fires and mud slides, more rain resulting in flooding in specific world areas, and more drought in other areas. 

Such climate changes are a spin-off of climate change that affects the growth of food and feeding the billions of people and other animals. Millions of people are starving and thirsty. Even those living in rich countries like United States are now eating foods that are deprived of nutrients, largely linked to climate change.

While millions of people suffer, politicians in particular, feel a sense of power and that they are in control. But they forget that they, like the rest of us, are visitors on earth and that it is earth who has the all mighty power and is in command. In order for us to survive, we have to also allow mother earth to survive by being healthy. Yes, earth is a living planet. Earth has an ecosystem that makes earth alive. Earth's ecosystem is made up of nature's systems that is similar to our human body ecosystem. The only way we can survive is to minimize air pollution although since World War II we have neglected to do so. Earth yields the all mighty force of nature that mankind is not able to control. It is not just that we as people need to survive. Earth is a bigger and superior entity than the human race; it is a mother to all living things, including humans.

Writer Nathaniel Rich has summarized how we have neglected to protect earth since WW II. The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to a specific period of time in modern history: 1979 and 1989. It was a time when we first reckoned with the impact of climate change — a period of great awakening in science, politics and industry to the threat of greenhouse gases and acid rain. As we’re painfully aware, that awakening didn’t turn into action. Rich's 31,000-word article weaves together a narrative to help explain why — when everyone seemed to be on the same page about the threat — we and politicians failed. What blocked these individuals from saving the planet? Rich advances a provocative thesis: " It wasn’t fossil fuel companies, the Republican Party, or other political elites." Instead, he argues, it was an act of collective shortsightedness. You can read his excellent summary in  Rich: Ignoring climate change 2018

Readers who are skeptical and doubt all this climate change neglect and the magestic power of earth need only view the video: California climate change It has been in 2016 - 2018 that we all of a sudden have had a speed-up of oceans warming up, more hurricanes and changes in climate. We are ignorantly startled and bewildered by loss of grain crops, loss of homes to floods and fires .... and changes silently taking place.  Yes, we can still breath air, eat food and do other things .... but for how long?

Attempts to solve climate problem:

There have been numerous attempts to study and propose solutions to climate change. One such approach occurred in 1968. In 1968, a mysterious coterie of elite scientists, the Jasons, had been brought together by federal agencies, including the C.I.A, to devise scientific solutions to national-security problems: how to detect an incoming missile; how to predict fallout from a nuclear bomb; how to develop unconventional weapons, like plague-infested rats and the future crisis of temperature change.

The Jasons’ 1968 report to the Department of Energy projected that by 2035, if the world continued to use fossil fuels for energy, that “The Long-Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate,” was written in an understated tone that only enhanced its nightmarish findings: Global temperatures would increase by an average of two to three degrees Celsius; Dust Bowl conditions would “threaten large areas of North America, Asia and Africa”; access to drinking water and agricultural production would fall, triggering mass migration on an unprecedented scale. “Perhaps the most ominous feature,” however, was the effect of a changing climate on the north and south poles. Even a minimal warming “could lead to rapid melting” of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The ice sheet contains enough water to raise the level of the oceans 16 feet. Many low lying cities in North America and the world would be gradually flooded by rising sea levels. These scientific projections were ignored by politicians.

During the spring of 1977 and the summer of 1978, the Jasons met again to determine what would happen once the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubled from pre-Industrial Revolution levels. It was an arbitrary milestone, the doubling, but a useful one, as its inevitability was not in question; the threshold would most likely be breached by 2035 --- a maximum predicted time all humans have to live.

As of 2018, climate change was still an ignored and unsolved environmental issue. A scientific attempt to minimize pollution and salvage the injury to earth's ecosystem evolved the idea of carbon tax as a solution. Although American politicians tinkered with carbon tax In the 1990s, executive branch policymakers [bipartisan opposition] dismissed the idea of a carbon tax because policymakers knew that West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, would block any measure harmful to coal and jobs. In reality, the carbon-intensive economic interests that benefit from destabilizing our climate worked hard to polarize public opinion and political elites whenever binding policy that would cut into their profits was put on the table for discussion.  Mildenberger: Climate change unsolved 2018

Once again, in 2017, scientists tried to get world countries to take action about climate change:

"In rejecting the Paris climate agreement this week [06/02/2017], American president Trump has given birth to an alternative “network of the willing” to battle climate change without Washington’s engagement. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has emerged as a leader of the new network. In an interview, Brown talks about his initiative to link up the state’s progressive stance on climate change with China, where he is traveling this week, as well as with Europe and subnational entities around the planet. He is also connecting with other states and cities in the United States. At nearly the same moment in which Trump withdrew from the Paris accord in Washington, China and the European Union signed a joint commitment in Brussels to fight climate change by leading the transition to a low-carbon economy."  Gardels: Rejection of Paris accord 2017

Carbon Tax:  What is carbon tax? Scientists can accurately measure the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the air from burning fossil fuels. They can apply a carbon tax based on the amount of carbon dioxide being released. Countries polluting the air with carbon dioxide would be taxed accordingly as an incentive to switch from burning fossil fuels to pollution free green energy sources. Those countries not polluting the air would save on their carbon tax and be able to sell it to other polluting countries. This was how carbon tax was supposed to work.

"More carbon has been released into the atmosphere since the final day of the Noordwijk conference, Nov. 7, 1989, than in the entire history of civilization preceding it. In 1990, humankind emitted more than 20 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. By 2017, the figure had risen to 32.5 billion metric tons, a record. Despite every action taken since the Chaney report — the billions of dollars invested in research, the nonbinding treaties, the investments in renewable energy — the only number that counts, the total quantity of global greenhouse gas emitted per year, has continued its inexorable rise. Like the scientific story, the political story hasn’t changed greatly, except in its particulars. Even some of the nations that pushed hardest for climate policy have failed to honor their own commitments. When it comes to our own United States, it has failed to make any binding commitments, even withdrawing from commitment to fight climate change."  Rich: Ignoring climate change 2018 The symptoms of earth starting to really get sick are in polluting the air in areas that use fossil fuel and spewing carbon dioxide into the air. Air pollution has no borders and spreads to countries that are not polluting the air. The result is that planet earth cannot clean the air as fast as it is getting polluted. We have had a blind and short sighted approach that has protected jobs in coal mining and oil and gas companies at the expense of a clean environment. The blind approaches have instead hindered fixing a life threatening climate change.

You can find more information about world warming, carbon tax and climate change by referring to:  Fuss: Carbon tax 2018

The USA, a major contributor to climate change, has had interest group opposition, partisan polarization, and elected officials with ties to fossil fuel corporations blocking any plan to stop climate change. The general public, misinformed about climate change and ignorant of carbon tax, has been focused on jobs and economic survival; thereby not pressuring politicians to stop climate change. Needless to say, there has been a lot of misinformation about climate change and that fossil fuels did not cause climate change and that climate change is a hoax .... all this collectively has also scuttled attempts to bring about change.  Mildenberger: Climate change unsolved 2018 Bringing climate change to a quick stop is not an easy solution. 

That’s why “we” haven’t solved the imminent problem of climate changing our earth.

Climate change is here and no one is telling us about it. Instead politicians fumble about lesser issues like getting re-elected, immigration and Trumpitis.  Monbiot: No one telling us 2016

How do we know that climate change is real? 

It is true that the Earth's climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. The graph below summarizes climate changes:

NASA climate change history
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

The evidence: Instruments used by scientists to gather the evidence that climate change is taking place: "The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely [greater than 95 percent probability] to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia. Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate. The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response. Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming."  NASA: Climate change This is real science and not political quackery or a hoax!

Real signs of climate change:  NASA: Climate change

  • global temperature rise
  • warming oceans
  • shrinking ice sheets
  • glacial retreats
  • decreased snow cover
  • sea level rise
  • declining Arctic sea rise
  • extreme events
  • ocean acidification

How much time do we have to stop and reverse climate change?: 

Everybody knew about climate change for a long time ago. The USA government and world leaders knew about it as early as1960. At this early time, the world had plenty of time to take measures to stop further climate change .... by stopping the fossil industry from continuing to mine coal and drill for oil and instead encourage a change from gasoline autos to electric autos. In 1958, on prime-time television, “The Bell Science Hour” — one of the most popular educational film series in American history — aired “The Unchained Goddess,” a film about meteorological wonders, warning that “man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate” through the release of carbon dioxide. “A few degrees’ rise in the Earth’s temperature would melt the polar ice caps,” said the film’s kindly host, the bespectacled Dr. Research. “An inland sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi Valley. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of tropical water.” Capra’s film was shown in science classes for decades. Rich: Ignoring climate change 2018 Why are these persons, who viewed this film, not voicing their objections to climate change? Where is this informed public today?

Today, most persons in the world are alive, breathing whatever oxygen quality they find in the air, eating food that has often lost much of its nutritional content but keeping them alive, having a job and finding work to put food on the table, and amusing themselves watching TV and football and soccer games. Such surviving keeps them distracted and too busy to give attention to a bigger and more imminent threat to their survival. It is this way of living and thinking that preoccupies them instead of how much longer will the planet survive that allows them to survive? 

Mention to any American that he/she could be dead in 10 years as there is a very good possibility that the planet they inhabit will no longer exist, and they will respond "You are crazy. It will never happen." This is how uninformed and unaware they are about the crisis we face today.

So how much time do we really have?

The earth crisis is real .... it is taking place right now, it is imminent and it may be irreversible in 10 to 15 years time. We need everyone, and especially world leaders, presidents and politicians to act now. This danger is more important than eating your next meal, having a job, political and government elections, tax reform, health care reform and economic reforms. All these may be blind low level priorities but the most important priority is stopping and reversing climate change.

The author brought this crisis to an elderly friend of his. His friend replied that he didn't care much about it as he obviously did not know much about climate change and he felt that he may not be alive in 10 years time. But the author prodded him: "What about your children, grandchildren and future generations?"  My friend did not want to deal with this delicate and sensitive topic! This was his mistake, for all mankind is in danger of dying while they still have a good chance of saving themselves and mother earth. But only if we all act now. This is not just an American tragedy waiting to happen, it is a world catastropy that is happening now. 

Yes, you should be alarmed and worried. And you should be afraid! You can't sweep your fear nor climate change under the carpet and pretend that it will not happen or somehow go away on its own.

The world has a small window of opportunity of about 10 years to reverse climate change and stop mother earth from reacting violently to save itself. As the earth reacts more violently each year, it will gradually have little if any regard for mankind.

Misjudged Fear:

Those who should be leading us have become immune to reality. The reality is hiding the fear of extinction and ?? World leaders and politicians lack the insight to perceive their place in the the world. Yes, they run with each other as if blind folded. They do not realize that the all mighty power is not in them, but in the plant earth that gives them life. 

Mankind has faced many imminent dangers in the past. These have been ancient wars, diseases like smallpox, bubonic plague, floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, modern wars and the Fukishima nuclear bomb. All of frightening epic proportions.  But none compare to the imminent danger of climate change.  For unless mankind immediately reverses the escalation of climate changes, the planet as we know today will not exist. The good days that we so lavishly enjoy will be gone and we will perish. The fear of climate change is bigger than any of the previous calamities that man has faced on earth. All because of leaders lacking an understanding of their responsibility to a higher power than man, the power of the planet they live on. Money, power and greed have replaced sanity, common good and common sense. We must turn this around back to making climate change the top priority for all countries and politicians. We no longer have the luxury of time.

Yes, we all should be afraid of allowing a few arrogant and misguided men lead us into oblivion. It may very well be fear that prompts us into action, that restores common sense and good will over greed and apathy. 

What can you do?:

Can we trust politicians to stop and reverse climate change? Governor Jerry Brown of California is gloomy about politicians doing something good to stop climate change. His gloominess comes from talking to world leaders who seem unable to realize that planet earth is in a real crisis that threatens civilization as we know and live it today. Respecting Governor Brown's views, we need, as citizens, to wake up and take charge.

There is no safe place to go and hide! Climate change will not go away and disappear by itself. While you are still breathing and alive, take some important preventive actions and contact significant others.

Most persons seem to neglect that humans become imperfect beings when they adopt bad living habits. They adopt bad eating habits, and often poor sanitation resulting in poor health. Corporations are the biggest culprits. Polluting the air results from giving more weight to money and power than to clean air and good health.

Polluting the air results from bad life styles. People are the biggest polluters on earth. And it is the stupid values and selfish life style that makes us imperfect. Any argument that humans should be forgiven for their bad and polluting lifestyles just lacks clear thinking, acumen and justice. Using the argument that jobs and money are more important than saving the earth we live on carries little weight when your life and that of others is threatened by the planet's existence. Somewhere clear thinking is lacking in the masses of those who unwittingly reject their own survival and that of their children. It is like putting a gun to another person's head. We all, and especially politicians, need good old fashioned wisdom and common sense to make immediate good decisions about climate change! 

Environmentalist Victoria Mansfield suggests supporting the Julianna vs. US Youth Trial lawsuit holding the government responsible for actions allowing climate change to occur starting in 1960; vote for strong climate policies and candidates to uphold such policies; and get involved in preventing fossil fuel projects.  Mansfield: Youth fight climate change 2018

Check your habits? Are you a polluter? Can you become a more perfect human being?

You need to act now on imminent danger. Call your political representative or congressman and let them know of your concerns. Talk to your political candidates running for election and insist that they make stopping climate change their major election priority and promise. Give support to Governor Jerry brown and his actions.

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References:

Arnoff Kate, "What the 'New York Times' Climate blockbuster missed," The Nation, August 2, 2018.  Arnoff: What Rich missed about climate change 2018

Fuss Sabine, "Climate Science," Oxford Research Encyclopedia, 2018.  Fuss: Carbon tax 2018

Gardels Nathan, "Weekend Roundup: Trump’s ‘America First’ Posture Is The Midwife Of A Post-American World - Rejecting the Paris climate accord while diverging from European allies invites the emergence of an alternative global order, Huffington Post, June 02, 2017.  Gardels: Rejection of Paris accord 2017

Mansfield Victoria, "Youth crucial to climate combat," The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 27, 2018.  Mansfield: Youth fight climate change 2018

NASA, "Climate change: How do we know?" Global Climate Change. NASA, October 15, 2018.  NASA: Climate change

Mildenberger Matto and Leah Stokes, "No, we didn’t almost s­olve the climate crisis in the 1980s," Vox, August 6, 2018.  Mildenberger: Climate change unsolved 2018

Monbiot George, "The climate crisis is already here - and no one's telling us," The Guardian, August 3, 2016.  Monbiot: No one telling us 2016

Rich Nathaniel, "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change," The New York Times Magazine, August 01, 2018.  Rich: Ignoring climate change 2018