The White House released the National Climate Assessment Report today eliminating legitimate doubt that climate change is underway with increasingly dire and catastrophic consequences to the global biosphere and to human life yet to come. The report is the product of more than four years of work by hundreds of scientists and it is substantially more comprehensive and alarming than its predecessor report issued in 2009. Unlike the United Nation’s report released three weeks ago, this report focuses on what is happening in eight geographical regions of the United States.
After reviewing the White House report and the United Nation’s report, I do not see how any reasonable person who knows how to read can continue to doubt that human activity has caused and will continue to cause global warming and climate change.
The Republican Party likely will persist in denying climate change because the oil companies and the rich people who own them intend to continue to enrich themselves at our expense. For example, FOX News is claiming that President Obama and the Democrats made up this report to distract our attention from what happened at Benghazi.
Global warming and climate change is the new reality and no amount of denial will make it go away. Instead of pointless arguments regarding whether it exists, we must accept that it does and do everything in our power to avoid contributing to the problem.
To accomplish this, we will need a collective change of heart. As the report explains, climate change is really a case of the ‘tragedy of the commons.’
Mitigation is a public good; climate change is a case of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ (high confidence). Effective climate change mitigation will not be achieved if each agent (individual, institution or country) acts independently in its own selfish interest, suggesting the need for collective action. Some adaptation actions, on the other hand, have characteristics of a private good as benefits of actions may accrue more directly to the individuals, regions, our countries that undertake them, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, financing such adaptive activities remains an issue, particularly for poor individuals and countries. [3.1]
Collective action means that we change our hearts about mass consumption and greed. Following the no harm rule, we are capable of working to decrease air pollution, acid rain and ocean acidification, leaving future people with an environment that is not uninhabitable. With a change of heart, we can work to eradicate poverty, rather than strip-mining a couple of large western states of coal that we send to China by way of the Evergreen State. Before we do that, maybe we would consider having an intelligent conversation about how we can all decrease some of these emissions– China is working on that, why can’t we? We can reduce our waste is this country as well. There is no longer any excuse for it.
This is an opportunity for once, to work together in the world instead of trying to take it over, or lie, cheat and rip people off and then blame them (whoever they are) for all of our problems.