Thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope and infrared astronomy, we can see evidence of the original Big Bang, which ignited our possibilities. As our community and species learned to assess shared risks, we have grown worried about our species’ future and our community’s security. The International Panel on Climate Change has defined our possibilities as growing more dangerous due to the increasing emissions of carbon compounds, even as the five top fossil-fuel producers earned $150 billion last year. They are investing in another record for production and emissions.
This market success may push Earth’s atmospheric tipping points into a cascading catastrophe for Earth’s species and communities. Experts suggest we may have five years to change our path and possibilities.
Without immediate and decisive personal, social, and political leadership, the global economy could begin to unravel and all plans altered. Loss will be a most-common experience.
The Earth’s 14 climate tipping points have never been triggered by conscious acts of human arrogance. But the International Energy Agency recently announced that global emissions from 36.8 gigatons of carbon combustion set a new record. The cost of this unprecedented arrogance may be unprecedented in the loss of capital among the world’s 196 nations.
Family, community, state, and national leaders will change course as they witness growing losses. A delayed response would ignore the limited time for hopeful teamwork.
The rising risks from this collective arrogance have prompted the beginning of climate teamwork. But funding for necessary public projects and processes has been modest compared to investments in fossil fuels. During the last decade, fossil-fuel leadership has expanded investment in carbon-based energies, despite their threat to our water, air, land, and life systems. Few planets offer such interdependent and living systems.
In the U.S., the excessive wealth of fossil-fuel corporations has enabled a few billionaires to fund nonprofits that amplify doubts about our future path. GOP leadership has responded to this abuse of wealth by funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network, and the Heartland Institute, which all seem to hope to derail climate teamwork. Fringe funding from billionaires may force the Earth’s 8.7 million species into a climate catastrophe.
We need leaders who understand that our water, air, land, and life systems are interdependent and are directly affected by our atmosphere’s temperature. Our Creator does not consider greater investment in carbon emissions a move toward a right to life. She is angry about our lack of gratitude and our threats to Earth’s linked systems.
The warming of our Earth’s atmosphere has already begun, from the Arctic to Antarctica. If we don’t change direction in the next five years, our dearth of climate actions will be regretted by the 8 billion passengers on this livable planet. Our shared possibilities offer only huge risks if we fail to generate more conservation, renewable energies, and less carbon emissions.
It is possible to lead a healthy and sustainable life on this living planet — if we design a plan to avoid climate catastrophe. Climate refugees are not waiting for artificial intelligence to solve this problem.
Bill Mittlefehldt of Duluth taught civics, economics, science, and service at the high school in Anoka, Minnesota, for 32 years.