If you flipped on the TV in the last month, you couldn’t have missed the record-breaking heat, water rationing, or 150-foot tall walls of flame. Wildfires and heat waves have ripped through the country. The hottest recorded temperatures have hit the East coast and Midwest, killing dozens. Super-fires are raging through Western states burning over three million acres from Alaska to Colorado. Twenty-six states now have whole regions that are officially declared natural-disaster areas due to drought. The relentless way our global economy is consuming resources creates and feeds global warming. This is the cause of all this massive climate change that threatens our world today.
CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect
Oil, coal and natural gas is ancient and buried carbon, which is why they call it ‘fossil fuel.’ But now we’re releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide traps more and more heat, warming the earth like a greenhouse. We need to limit CO2 emissions, but this year alone over 60 million cars and hundreds of millions of computers will be produced using oil and gas. Factories, power plants and gas engines will consume nearly 3.8 billion gallons of oil per day, and burn nearly 4 billion tons of coal, spewing over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
It’s Getting Hot in Here
Global temperatures have been rising since the beginning of industrial production, two hundred years ago. The past twelve months have been the warmest the US has experienced since record-keeping began in 1895. Temperatures soared past one hundred degrees in over twenty states this summer, breaking heat records in dozens of cities. Extreme heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin, and train rails to bend in Maryland. Heat stresses electrical systems and has caused hundreds of thousands from West Virginia to Washington DC to lose power, rotting food in hot fridges, killing air conditioners, and claiming lives in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states.
The hotter it gets, the more water evaporates from bodies of water, like lakes and reservoirs. It reduces the amount of snow and rain that falls in a season. This means less drinking and irrigation water available during the year. The heat and lack of water dries out forests and grass, creating perfect conditions for a wildfire. Sixty-one percent of land in the lower 48 states are in drought conditions, with over 1,000 counties declared natural-disaster areas. As a result, the largest blaze in New Mexico’s history, and nearly the largest in Colorado’s, was just weeks ago.
When It Rains It Pours
Global Warming doesn’t just cause heat-waves and droughts, but also mega-storms and blizzards. As the planet warms so do the oceans. The evaporation of warm ocean water creates heavier rains and snow storms. Massive snowstorms slammed into hundreds of cities around Christmas last year, with over two feet of snow and winds of up to 80 miles per hour. These storms forced six states to declare state-wide emergencies. These rainstorms caused flooding, landslides, power outages, transit shutdowns, and destroyed roads and bridges.
Our World, Our Future
This system we are living under is violently transforming the world before our very eyes. All signs point to global catastrophe if this way of life continues. Nearly every climate scientist in the world agrees that global warming is not only happening, but that it is man-made, and accelerating. How much destruction do we need to see from droughts, floods, storms, wildfires, and other disasters?
There is no reason we need to waste so many of the natural resources of this planet, and destroy the environment in the process. This system exists only for the benefit of corporations and not for humanity or the planet. We just have to take the steering wheel away from those driving us towards a cliff. This is the only world we’ve got, and it’s time we started acting like it. It’s up to us.