Mother Nature is begging us to act amid alarming evidence of what scientists call climate chaos.
The clearest of them all is the Dantesque bushfires that have been devastating the Australian Continent for months. The flames have devoured an area equivalent to the country of Guatemala, more than 3,000 buildings, the lives of at least 30 people and those of one billion animals.
Greed continues to be the main fuel of the climate crisis. It’s up to the rest of humanity to convince greed that its days are numbered.
Scientists confirm, once again, that the climate crisis heightened the conditions that detonated this horror. Climatologist Michael Mann, distinguished professor at Penn State University, warned that the voracity of these fires has reached such a point, Australia risks having its first climate refugees.
“We’re seeing the beginning stages of monumental, catastrophic climate changes that will ultimately drive people away from large regions of this continent,” Mann, who’s visiting Australia, told Bloomberg News.
Australia — the world’s largest coal exporter — has been ignoring climate science for decades. Furthermore, the Australian government has approved the construction of one of the world’s largest coal mines.
What to do about this madness? A lot. The following are just a few examples of how climate activism has become a phenomenal force for change around the world.
After a decade of campaigns to divest from fossil fuels, this strategy has scored spectacular victories. So far, the most brilliant of them is called Black Rock, the world’s richest investment firm with $7 trillion in assets. Its chairman and CEO, Larry Fink, announced that it will “put climate change at the center of its investment strategy,” which includes the largest fossil fuel portfolio in the financial world.
Furthermore, insurance companies have stopped covering some $8.9 trillion in coal investments, close to 40% of the total for this industry, which historically is the largest contributor to climate change pollution.
There’s more. After years of resisting climate activism, the hugely influential European Investment Bank has finally announced that starting in 2021, it will cease to invest in fossil fuel projects.
Donald Trump, the world’s most notorious climate denier, arbitrarily favors the coal industry. Yet, during his three years in office, he has witnessed the closing of 71 coal plants and the retirement announcements of 65 others.
In the United Kingdom, Tim Eggar, chairman of the Oil and Gas Authority, recently admitted that his sector “is losing its social license to operate.” “Clearly, climate change is happening right now. That debate is over,” he added. “We have to act much, much faster and go farther in reducing the carbon footprint.”
The Australian catastrophe is yet another devastating piece of evidence that we are in a climate emergency. The European Union agreed a few months ago, and Spain became the most recent country to follow suit this year. To date, 1,330 jurisdictions and local governments around the world have declared a climate emergency, which covers some 810 million people.
To be sure, however, many of these victories are both incomplete and insufficient. Greed continues to be the main fuel of the climate crisis. It’s up to the rest of humanity to convince greed that its days are numbered.
Javier Sierra is a Columnist with the Sierra Club. @javier_SC
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