By Joanna Clark, San Juan Capistrano
I have been writing our city councils regarding climate change issues since early 2014. The lack of response indicates little to no interest in the long-term effects of what we’re doing to our environment. Instead, the focus has been on new shopping malls and homes, which only exacerbates our problem further.
San Juan Capistrano’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in April 2018, called on the county, state, and federal government to take action, but did little to address climate change on the local level.
The 25th session of the Conference of Parties (COP25) accomplished little, despite coming after the largest youth-led environmental protest in history. COP25 also followed a fresh batch of scientific reports highlighting the devastating impacts climate change is already having on our land and oceans. Unfortunately, we—assisted by Brazil and Saudi Arabia—defeated efforts at COP25 to set mitigation goals.
“We’re currently injecting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere 10 times faster than during the End-Permian,” when 96 percent of all life went extinct. (If you compare it to the extinction crisis at the end of the Devonian, 360 million years ago, we’re pushing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at somewhere between 12,000 and 40,000 times the ancient rate.)
“There is now no conceivable way to stop climate change at this point; at best, it’s a battle to mitigate its impact, and we’re quickly running out of time. We can’t save the planet with half measures. We need to go all the way. We need to understand that recovery is all but impossible, without a World War II-style transformation of industry—an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the Earth’s poles. This has to be done within the next eight years if our children and grandchildren are going to survive.”
We could start by planting a million trees on our hillsides, covering every parking lot with solar arrays, and banning fossil-fueled vehicles by 2025.
Editor’s note: This author quoted from Skeptical Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.