Each passing day of inaction brings us closer to the irreversible effects of runaway climate change. “We have a closing window of opportunity to act and narrowing options … One million plant and animal species face extinction,” said the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Elephants, tigers, giraffes, birds, bees, butterflies: going. Ocean-heating and acidification caused by excess carbon dioxide emissions recently resulted in mass bleachings, killing half the coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and others worldwide. CO2 levels are over 40 percent above historical norms and rising relentlessly at 2 parts per million yearly.
More than 70 of the nation’s leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, are urging the world’s leaders to recognize climate change as a “health emergency” due to storms, floods, droughts, air pollution, spreading of diseases and death by overheating.
Today, India is in drought—600 million face water shortages—and Australia’s drought is ramping up. Parts of Europe are facing yet another record-breaking heatwave; the last one killed 15,000 people. Antarctica and the Arctic are melting, and the sea ice is at its lowest point ever for this part of the year in the Arctic. Half of Greenland’s ice sheet is melting; temperatures have ranged to 40 degrees higher than the normal. Those facts were news within the last two weeks.
Last week, New York City became the largest municipality in the Americas to declare a climate emergency with a resolution calling for “an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.” The United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and France, and more than 715 local governments in 16 countries, representing over 135 million people, have declared similar climate emergencies.
This resolution, initiated by the Climate Emergency Campaign, introduces a non-binding declaration putting leadership on record in support of emergency action to reverse global warming, The goal of the CEC is to compel governments at every level to adopt an emergency response to climate change and the ecological crisis: “Entering emergency mode is the critical first step to launching the comprehensive mobilization required to rescue and rebuild civilization.
“We can’t solve the problem if we don’t call it like it is: a life-or-death emergency of unprecedented proportions, a vital first step toward confronting the hard truth of the climate crisis,” says Extinction Rebellion.
These are early days in this emergency. I want to encourage our local governments to declare succinctly, for all of us, that we are facing together a global environmental emergency, admit this resolution as the mandate of scientific fact, and provide leadership that we can work more consciously, aggressively and immediately to avoid the ultimate implications of runaway climate change.
James EwingWater Mill
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