As the political fallout from Trump’s Oval Office “temper tantrum” about the Mexican Wall continues to dominate Washington, other, far more important, stories do not make the news.
As usual Trump, the master of diversion and deception, averts our collective gaze from what really matters.
You need to forget about his wall. Its what Trump is doing to the climate that matters. It is the effect Trump is having on our oceans that counts. Its what he is doing to the majestic glaciers of the world that is important.
Under his leadership, US greenhouse gas emissions have increased sharply as his deliberate strategy to promote fossil fuels, in denial of the science, gathers apace. According to a new analysis by the Rhodium group, the emissions increased 3.4 per cent last year.
Why does this matter? By promoting fossil fuels, by continuing to deny the science of climate change, he is complicit in changing the natural world as we know it. He is deliberately running the clock down on the ever increasingly short time we have to avert a climate catastrophe. Indeed, his ignorance has catastrophic consequences. Our children will inherit a world that our grandparents would not recognise.
Lets look at the oceans. An investigation published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlines how “Since the 19th century, rising greenhouse gas concentrations have caused the ocean to absorb most of the Earth’s excess heat and warm up.”
Every second the oceans warm by the equivalent of three to six atomic bombs. That is one hell of a lot of atomic bombs per day. Even one bomb dropped would cause outrage, but the oceans warm unseen.
And this has been going on a long, long time. As the Guardian reports, the scientists had “found the average heating across that 150-year period was equivalent to about 1.5 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs per second. But the heating has accelerated over that time as carbon emissions have risen, and was now the equivalent of between three and six atomic bombs per second.”
The deniers, like Trump, argue that climate change isn’t happening, or that the science doesn’t stack up. Trump can’t see the carbon bombs destroying our oceans. And when oceans cannot absorb any more carbon, then the deep trouble we are in will begin to spiral.
This is alarming scientists. Professor Laure Zanna, at the University of Oxford, who led the new research told the Guardian: “We are putting a lot of excess energy into the climate system and a lot of that ends up in the ocean. There is no doubt.”
But it is not just the oceans that are at a crisis point. As Dahr Jamail outlines in his upcoming book, “The End of Ice”: “Our planet is rapidly changing, and what we are witnessing is unlike anything that has occurred in human, or even geological, history.”
He writes: “The parts of the Earth so cold that water is frozen into ice or snow – is melting at an ever-accelerating rate. The subsea permafrost in the Arctic is thawing, and we could experience a methane “burp” of previously trapped gas at any moment, causing the equivalent of several times the total amount of CO2 humans have emitted to be released into the atmosphere. The results would be catastrophic.”
He adds: “Glaciers are vanishing before our eyes, having shrunk to the lowest levels ever recorded, and are now melting faster than ever. Seventy per cent of the glaciers in western Canada are projected to be gone by 2100. Montana’s Glacier National Park will most likely not have any active glaciers by 2030.”
Continuing that: “The Matanuska Glacier’s ancient ice is already rapidly vanishing. Dramatic changes are occurring even in the planet’s highest and coldest places. Even Mount Everest is transforming, as thousands of glaciers across the Himalayas are likely to shrink by up to 99% by 2100. A child born today will see an Everest largely free of glaciers within their lifetime.”
Just pause on that last point.
In his book, he talks about how he is trying to address climate change and take hope for the future, especially drawing on inspiration from the younger generation who are mobilising against Trump on issues like climate change.
We all draw inspiration from the growing Sunrise Movement, dubbed the “nation’s fastest-growing climate advocacy group”, which has so far has succeeded in convincing 45 House Democrats and several senators to support a Green New Deal.
This spring, Sunrise is planning a 14-stop tour of the US to drum up grassroots support for a Green New Deal, which has also been championed by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Corte.
Varshini Prakash, co-founder of Sunrise Movement, recently told the HuffPost: “We’re launching the Road to a Green New Deal Tour to activate the millions of Americans who are ready to fight for a Green New Deal but haven’t heard of it yet.”
Sunrise and Ocasio-Cortez want to make the policy the defining issue of the 2020 election. Ocasio-Cortez told CNN: “I am thrilled to see so many of the potential 2020 presidential candidates embracing the idea of a Green New Deal. The oil and gas lobbyists won’t back down without a fight and that’s why we need to support groups like Sunrise Movement in their efforts to keep the pressure up. When the scientific consensus says that you have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe, it’s time to get to work.”
Indeed, the real work is fighting climate change, not building a wall.