Loading...
BYH Zoning Commission. Take your chairs and sit in the field by Bostic Sugg in morning or afternoon and tell the...

It's time to think big on climate change

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson is a columnist with the Washington Post.

Loading…

Sunday, February 10, 2019

 

Let's consider some real news, for a change: Last year was officially proclaimed the fourth-warmest on record; scientists predict that melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland could not only raise sea levels but further destabilize weather patterns; and progressive members of Congress are proposing a "Green New Deal," the first policy framework ambitious enough to meet the challenge of global warming.

Please don't stop reading. I know that climate change isn't the sexiest of topics. But it is the biggest, most important story of our time. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will judge us by how well we meet the challenge, and so far we are failing. Miserably.

Scientists from NASA announced Wednesday that 2018 was the earth's fourth-warmest year since record-keeping began about 140 years ago. The warmest year of all was 2016, followed in order by 2017 and 2015; the fifth-warmest was 2014. Anyone who is not deliberately being obtuse can see the pattern.

Why is it so hot? Because humankind has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by a staggering 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution. There is now more of the heat-trapping gas in the air than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years. Researchers have looked in vain for any "natural" phenomenon or cycle that could explain the carbon buildup and the rapid warming. Yet global carbon emissions are at an all-time high.

Anyone tempted to shrug — or even cheer, given the brutal cold that much of the nation suffered last month — is whistling past the graveyard. Sea-level rise, in part caused by the fact that warmer water takes up more space than cooler water, has already worsened coastal flooding around the world and threatened to erase low-lying islands from the map. Now attention has shifted to the polar regions, where the warming process is proceeding most rapidly and ice is melting at an unprecedented pace.

Hardly a month goes by without some alarming new report about accelerated melting in Antarctica and the various apocalyptic scenarios that might come true. A paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests that a phenomenon known as "marine ice cliff instability" might not produce as much additional sea level rise as a 2016 paper had predicted. But a second Nature paper warned that melting ice in Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayas could seriously disrupt weather and temperature patterns worldwide.

That's the true nature of the scientific debate over climate change. It's not about whether global warming is taking place or what's causing it — those questions are settled. The open question is whether the effects of human-induced climate change will be really bad, catastrophically bad or threat-to-civilization bad.

Enter the resolution, introduced Thursday by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., calling on Congress to create a Green New Deal.

Pelosi has sounded skeptical. "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive," she said Wednesday, according to Politico. "The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

I'm more impressed than the speaker is, however. The point of the resolution is not to propose specific, detailed policy prescriptions. It lays out instead the enormous scale of the climate change problem — and, as a commensurate response, calls for "a new national, social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal."

The resolution's goal is to reduce net U.S. carbon emissions to zero through a "10-year national mobilization." Such a crusade, as envisioned, would create jobs and economic development while at the same time safeguarding the biosphere. Yes, proposals such as "upgrading all existing buildings in the United States" and "spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing" and "overhauling transportation systems" sound like pie in the sky. But that's the scale of the crisis.

Sooner or later, we're going to have to go big on climate change. So let's start thinking big.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is an associate editor and won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2009.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

February 16, 2019

With confidence in government at record lows, where have all our leaders gone? Where is the James Madison of today, or the Thomas Jefferson, or even Everett Dirksen? He was the Republican leader who partnered with President Johnson to pass civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

These people were…

eleanorclift.jpg

February 15, 2019

On Bleecker Street in Manhattan, you can find both a Planned Parenthood clinic and a boutique for pregnant women.

According to Vogue, the store, Hatch, "is arguably the first of its kind, in that it was designed specifically for pregnant shoppers: Changing rooms have a size chart to help you figure…

kathrynlopez

February 15, 2019

The decision by Virginia's top three elected officials to hunker down and cling to their jobs is bad for both the state and the Democratic Party. If they won't go, the only thing to do is investigate them all.

Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring have all…

Eugene Robinson

February 14, 2019

Of all the headlines about the scandals concerning the alleged past sins of one after another high official in Virginia, one struck me most poignantly. It was this, from the front page of The Washington Times:

"Democrats to vet candidates closely for secrets in past."

Maybe I have spent too much…

February 13, 2019

As our new legislative session fully uncoils, it's good to recall that just a few weeks ago workers in 20 states saw an increase in the minimum wage. The federal minimum, $7.25, was last raised in 2009. Since then, 29 states and dozens of cities and counties have chosen to exceed the federal floor.…

Gene Nichol

February 13, 2019

President Trump, in his State of the Union speech, broadly and wrongly portrayed illegal immigrants as murderers, rapists and drug dealers who must be stopped. But Trump does not limit his anti-immigrant zeal to them. In service to Trump, authorities are now handcuffing and shackling non-citizens…

Take Back North Carolina Press Conferece - US Attorney Robert Higdon speaks at press conference.jpg

February 13, 2019

Ten states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-two other states, along with U.S. territories Puerto Rico and Guam, allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Let's examine some hidden issues about marijuana use.

Before we start, permit me to…

Walter Williams

February 12, 2019

Serving as speaker of the House has been good for Tim Moore's bank account.

The job of speaker isn't itself lucrative: $38,151 annually, plus $104 a day for housing and food when the legislature is in session. That's a decent income for many North Carolinians, but it's not going to buy you that…

Colin Campbell

February 11, 2019

North Carolina's franchise tax is a punitive and opaque tax levied on businesses organized under one of the usual corporate forms. It is inconsistent with both good economics and good government and should be abolished.

Conceptually the franchise tax is quite simple. It is a tax on the net value or…

Roy Cordato

February 11, 2019

There is a reason why most rural communities in North Carolina do not have broadband speeds of 25 megabytes per second, even after the state has spent more than $500 million on infrastructure over the last 10 years.

According to internet service providers, or ISPs, it is simply not profitable to…

021019bunnysanders
316 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»