It’s zero hour, and those who don’t get it right will not have a second chance, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said today.
Krugman, a 2008 Nobel Prize winner in economics for his work addressing the dangers of climate change, said that those dangers are no longer hypothetical.
He pointed out that they can be seen in the extreme meteorological phenomena observed recently all over the world — extreme drought and forest fires in the western United States, more intense hurricanes, and catastrophic floods in Europe.
These are exactly the kinds of things that climate scientists have been warning us to expect as the planet warms. They have also been warning that many policymakers in the United States and around the world are ignoring the signs because dealing with them is inconvenient.
According to Krugman, “this is just the beginning of the nightmare — the leading edge of a wave of disasters, and a harbinger of the crisis heading our way if we don’t act quickly and forcefully to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
The overlapping catastrophes — hurricanes, floods, fires, among other disasters — demonstrate the stark climatic reality: the United States is not prepared to deal with the problem, according to another assessment published by The New York Times.
The deadly floods that killed an estimated 50 people and caued serious property damage in the Northeast, added to the destruction in Louisiana and California, show the limits of adaptation to climate change.
According to experts, that process will get worse over time if the alarm does not lead to concerted action in facing the challenge.
One can see devastating examples of this today in Louisiana and Mississippi with Hurricane Ida, the Caldor fire, which made it necessary for thousands to flee their homes, and in Tennessee, where flash flooding killed at least 20 people.
According to The New York Times, the catastrophes that have occurred across the country this summer highlight a harsh reality: The United States is not prepared for the frequent and extreme meteorological phenomena that are occurring as a consequence of global warming.
“These events tell us we’re not prepared,” said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risk on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists.”
The New York Times reported that governments have not invested enough time and money in preparation for these climate impacts, which have long been predicted.
In this regard, the scientists warn us that if countries do not do more to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, we could shortly come up against the limits of how much the system can withstand. The Climate Summit in Scotland in November will have to address this issue. .
In the United States, damage caused by the extreme weather and the threat to human life will only increase as the planet warms. According to scientists, for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming, the atmosphere retains 7% more humidity.
We are already approaching the limit of the human body’s ability to tolerate high temperatures.
According to Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the drift toward disaster is following its inexorable course, more quickly than any increase in how aware the general public is about the seriousness of the crisis.
We know what needs to be done and what can be done. But there is a big gap between the will to take on the task and the seriousness of the looming crisis, and there isn’t much time to turn around the deep-seated malaise in contemporary intellectual and moral culture, Chomsky indicated in an exclusive interview for Truthout.org.
The pressure on Washington is huge. For instance, the burning of petroleum, coal and natural gas is responsible today for about 70% of all CO2 emissions worldwide.
No wonder then that, in light of recent weather events, the experts are saying that zero hour is here, and there will not be a second chance. It’s now or never.