On Friday, Sept. 20, at 3 p.m., the Keene community will be at Central Square to join activists from around the world in demanding that governments act decisively to address climate change.
Here is why I will be there.
Almost a half a century ago, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated nationally at colleges and universities. This celebration fostered an awareness catalyzing the U.S. environmental movement to recognize the Earth as part of a shared human heritage. … A quarter of a century later, former Vice President (then Sen.) Al Gore wrote “Earth in the Balance,” which, in the words of Carl Sagan, was a “landmark book” predicting an “environmental crisis threatening to overwhelm our children’s generation.” Yet, despite Gore’s forecast and the monumental work of national and international institutions and non-government organizations, planetary conditions are worse than in 1992 and now jeopardize our children’s futures.
Indeed, in 2018, the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported current levels of greenhouse gas emissions at 1.0 degree Centigrade above pre-industrial levels and rising an average of two-tenths degree per year, resulting in the net increase of 1.5 degrees by 2030. Forecasting negative impacts on health due to vector-borne diseases, crop failures and heat-related morbidity, the report further states that pathways limiting global warming would require rapid and far reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure and industrial systems.
Non-scientists only have to observe Arctic temperatures greater than 90 degrees, wildfires burning across the globe and melting Greenland glaciers to know the IPCC data may be a best-case scenario.
Politicians have long kicked the problem onto the next watch, with incremental changes and the promise of international agreements. The Paris climate agreement, which has no mandatory goals or enforcement, falsely anticipates carbon reduction mechanisms yet to be invented and proven. The agreement also fails to anticipate multiple feedback loops and abrupt fluctuations inherent with melting polar ice or ecological crises such as the burning of rainforests.
Thus, there is almost certainty that even if the above trends are turned around, our children’s and grandchildren’s world will be degraded.
The political failure to protect the citizenry from risks of uninhabitable conditions is a dereliction of duty by political leadership and is why social mobilization is necessary. To do less is a dereliction of our responsibilities to our children. Please join me.
SARAH G. WILTON
127 School St.