I have to interrupt your usual business to issue this dire warning: you and I and the rest of the world are whistling into the abyss.
The damning fact is that once I finish writing this column and you finish reading it, you, I, and the rest of the world will likely be back to our regularly scheduled stuff as we continue to whistle down a dead end, literally.
The other damning fact is that we have been too busy whistling as this life support planet we call home hurtles toward extinction due to our stupidity, hesitation, greed, addictions, and complacency.
We have been teetering on the edge of the abyss for a long time. Scientists have told us that we have the equivalent of a nanosecond in human history to save ourselves and everyone who comes after us or not.
As usual, most of us refuse to listen or act. Worse yet, too many scientifically illiterate idiots remain convinced that since they can still snowball or ski, the man-made climate catastrophe is a man-made hoax.
Therefore, they prefer to gorge themselves on their convenient comforts rather than face the discomfort of making the urgent and necessary changes and sacrifices that we should have made years ago to prevent the earth from burning.
These days, we’d rather talk or read about a slap at the Oscars than talk about, let alone read, yet another thick report that joins a shelf of other thick reports that raise a familiar point: whether the rich “developed world” no it does not reduce the carbon pollution it puts into the atmosphere, so we’ll lean into the abyss and no one, no matter how rich or well off, will be able to find the emergency exit door.
On Monday, a legion of smart and careful scientists gathered again to shout out their much more learned variations of “fire.” This time, it took them a few thousand pages to do it.
Of course, the smart and careful scientists who gather the facts to show us how and why the planet is burning and what we should do about it, today, not tomorrow, are sober and responsible people. They are not in the habit of yelling “fire” on a planet full of people.
Maybe they should start.
Meanwhile, smart and careful scientists use polite and diplomatic language to tell us that the planet is on fire. They use phrases like the world is “facing a reckoning moment” or we need the “political courage… to look beyond our current interests.”
It is not working or penetrating enough into minds to make a tangible difference.
If I were one of those smart and careful scientists, I would have stopped being nice and polite in 1999.
This is how the press conference on Monday would have started, revealing the most recent “now or never” study: Thank you all for joining me today. The planet is on fire. Let me repeat that. The planet is on fire. By the way, did I mention the planet is on fire?
Then, he would have added: Look, here’s the life and death deal. If you, me and the rich nations who are the most guilty of killing the planet degree by degree do nothing about global warming today, not tomorrow, well, that’s it.
The planet is going to die and that means eventually all life on this great blue and white marble, sometimes wonderful, often ugly, will die too. Oh, just so you know, before that happens, there will be bigger, longer, deadlier floods, wildfires, tornadoes, typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, and droughts. Guaranteed.
And in some parts of the world, the sea level will rise several meters, in other parts of the world it will go down. Dozens of once-vibrant seaside cities will vanish beneath the waves, as Edgar Allan Poe foretold in his poem, The City in the Sea.
It! Death has raised a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far in the dark West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
they have gone to their eternal rest
I don’t know if the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, reads Poe. I know he came as close as any diplomat to yelling not just “fire” but “Hey, wake up.”
Guterres pointed an incriminating finger at the “developed world” after the release of the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that industrial powers are responsible for 57 percent of all greenhouse gases. greenhouse emitted by humans since 1850.
“Some government and business leaders say one thing but do another. Simply put, they are lying,” Guterres said. “Governments and corporations with high emissions are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames. They are suffocating our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels.”
Isn’t it refreshing when diplomats keep things simple?
In any case, the top UN diplomat ended his searing indictment by describing the IPCC’s findings as a “shame file… cataloging empty promises that set us firmly on the path to an unlivable world.”
The numbers are as clear as compelling. If you and I and the “developed world” do not reduce carbon emissions by 47 percent by the end of this decade, then you and I and the “developed world” will not be able to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
If you, me and the “developed world” fail to do the above, it is sayonara planet Earth.
Unfortunately, the editors who make decisions about the news buried the IPCC report. Wars sell. The reports do not. The 24-hour news cycle matters. Something that may or may not happen at the end of the decade does not happen.
If so-called “responsible” journalists adopt this ostrich attitude in the face of looming danger, is it any wonder short-sighted politicians do the same?
Last year, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, said that global warming was the challenge of our time. His “ambitious” legislative agenda to address it is DOA, submitted by a member of his party with a name tag only who is married to the coal and fossil fuel industry like a conjoined twin.
The US Congressional midterm elections are approaching, and rising prices at gas stations (driven, in large part, by a war criminal in the Kremlin) have emboldened some cowardly Democrats and the entire Great Old Dumb Party. -as-A-Pet-Rock to resurrect the insipid bugle call: “Drill, baby, drill.”
If that doesn’t lead you to curl into a ball of existential angst and despair, consider this: The “former guy” who seems set to at least become the future Republican presidential nominee dismissed global warming last month as “A thing called time.
In mid-March, the “former guy” told members of the Dumb-as-A-Pet-Rock Grand Old Party at a rally in South Carolina not to spend any of their single-digit synapses worrying about melting. from glaciers and ice sheets because rising sea levels “would create more waterfront property.”
it’s fine. I finished. You and I can get back to our regularly scheduled stuff.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.