Beginning Part 3 How Climate Change Affects Us
Rising temperatures and rising sea levels are already creating climate refuges. Let us consider the following:
- In 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development gave $1 billion in grants to 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change. One grant ($48 million) is intended to move the entire community of Isle de Jean Charles, LA to higher ground. Its primary inhabitants are from the Native American tribe known as the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw. Once surrounded by 22,000 acres in the 1950s, the community now sits on 320 acres. In March 2018, state officials told the remaining 67 residents they must leave. Louisiana is losing coastline at the rate of one football field per hour.
- Drought in Syria and Iraq has been a factor in driving farmers into various armed factions to support their families and others to migrate into Europe.
- Over 200,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since Hurricane Maria. It is estimated that 60% of the population of Puerto Rico now lives in the U.S.
Writing for the Climate and Migration Coalition, Alex Randall states, “Migration and finding alternative work has…become part of their safety net in the face of climate change. Migration has become a form of home-grown climate change adaptation.” Right now, in parts of Africa, this type of migration is tied to a decline in food production due to drought.
An accurate estimate of the number of climate refuges today is difficult to determine for several reasons. First, there is no legal definition of the term climate refuge or environmental migrant. Second, climate change disasters like flooding and drought are often part of what causes people to migrate but not the sole reason. Alex Randall has suggested internal displacement is a more accurate way to judge the impacts of climate change.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) estimates that between 2008 to 2016, 195.7 million people were displaced due to weather. Another 32 million were displaced due to geophysical changes. Their website notes, “Once again, weather-related hazards, in particular storms, brought on the majority of new disaster displacements in 2016” to an estimated 23.5 million people.
In March and April, torrential rains in East Africa have displaced 260,000 people in Kenya and impacted 500,000 people in Somalia. The flooding follows two years of drought and famine in the region and the Horn of Africa.
March 2018 also saw the World Bank release a report suggesting “slow-onset” climate change could create as many as 143 million climate migrants in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Focusing on Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Mexico, the report further noted the movement of millions of people from rural to urban areas in the next 30 years as they sought to escape crop failures, water scarcity and sea level rise.
A 2015 UN study estimated the number of environmental migrants by 2050 to be 200 million, including both internally displaced people and those crossing national borders. Other estimates project numbers as low as 25 million to as high as one billion.
Extreme Weather Events
Scientists are now linking extreme weather events—droughts, flooding, massive tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and excessive air pollution—to climate change. While it is often difficult to determine cause and effect related to the Earth’s climate, scientists are studying an emerging pattern of a warming Arctic and extreme weather in the eastern United States and reduced snowfall in California.
Over the past three years, the world has experienced the following:
- Hurricanes: Three Category 4 hurricanes hit the United States in 2017.
- Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas with 60 inches of rain, flooding one-third of the city and damaging 203,000 homes with almost 13,000 destroyed. It affected 13 million people across five states, resulting in damages costing $125 billion. Eight hundred sewage treatment plants and 13 Superfund sites were flooded. One of those sites, the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, leaked paper mill hazardous wastes including dioxins into the flood waters. An estimated one million vehicles were ruined beyond repair.
- Hurricane Irma knocked 50% (or more) of Florida’s citrus crop to the ground causing an estimated $760 million dollars in damage. An estimated $2.39 billion in farm labor income from almost 56,000 jobs was lost.
- Hurricane Maria devastated most of Puerto Rico with winds exceeding 155 mph. Up to 50 percent of the island inhabitants are still without electricity six months after the storm. Those living in the mountains have received little or no help. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) underestimated the impact of the hurricane and the island’s ability to recover from the devastation.
- Air Pollution: In October, fine particulate pollution reached levels in New Delhi, India equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.
- Flooding: In west Africa, Sierra Leone was hit by torrential thunderstorms in August 2017 resulting in flooding and mudslides that killed some 1,050 people. In China, the Yangtze River flooded due to seasonal rains in June and July causing $7.5 billion in damage. In mid-July, thunderstorms in China’s southern provinces impacted 58,000 homes and caused an additional $4.5 billion in damage.
- Drought: Crop losses and other impacts from drought across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia in 2016 and continuing into 2017 cost the region almost $2 billion. Somalia lost 285,000 inhabitants due to drought and famine in 2010-2011.
- Wildfires: Portugal was hit by wildfire disasters in June and then October 2017. Extreme heat and drought led to over 7,900 individual fires that took more than 100 lives. The 2017 wildfire season in California was the worst and longest in state history. Five of the most destructive fires occurred between October and December.
- Freezing Hurricanes: The Northeastern part of the USA experienced four “cyclone bombs” in three weeks bringing high winds, rain, snow, and flooding from storm surge to New York and Boston and other cities along the east coast in January 2018.
- Water Scarcity: The four million residents of Cape Town, South Africa from 2017-2018 were close to facing Zero Day—the day the city’s water tap is turned off as city reservoirs drop below capacity. In fact, The Academy For Future Science, South Africa brought together local United Nation’s leaders with experts in water, urban and environmental planning to discuss these serious issues.
As a measure of the increase in extreme weather events, Swiss Re Institute, a re-insurance company based in Zurich, reported “economic losses from natural and man-made disasters have soared 63 percent in 2017 to an estimated $306 billion, up from $188 billion in 2016. The report also noted that natural and man-made losses have “exploded since 1990.” The hurricane season of 2017 was the most expensive in U.S. history, racking up a conservative estimate of $203 billion in damages. 
Global warming theorists are pointing to mankind as the primary culprit for the warming of our planet and the issues arising from it. In November 2017, the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4 Vol 1) was released by the U.S. government. Reviewing over 1,500 scientific studies and reports, the NCA4 concluded “that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
In accordance with the COP23, the UN acknowledged the world was not doing enough to meet the 2oC goal. For large emitters like the United States, Russia and China, not only were weak emission targets set, but they have had even weaker implementation.
With all the talk about the need to reduce carbon emissions to meet the 2oC rise in the average global temperature by 2100, a group of European researchers set out to understand what the world needed to do in the next 30 years to get there:
- Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have to be consecutively cut by 50% in each of the next three decades.
- Emissions from agriculture and deforestation have to steadily decline each decade to zero by 2050.
- We need technologies online by 2050 that can remove 5 gigatons (5 billion tons) of CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere—almost double the carbon dioxide all the planet’s trees and soils remove now.
Another report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council looked at a variety of carbon capture/removal strategies and technologies. It concluded we needed to begin removing 11 gigatons per year of CO2 around 2050. Reforestation, soil management, and CO2 capture plants were among the strategies considered. It concluded a combination of strategies were needed to be successful, and that individually each one was only likely to remove 3-4 GtCO2 at best. The study also noted none of these technologies were on track to be scaled up to meet this goal; nor was there enough financial incentive to do so at this time.
The impacts of surpassing 2oC are predicted to continue the trends we are already experiencing:
- An increasing decline in fresh water as temperatures rise and snowpack and glaciers melt; lakes and streams lose water to evaporation; and rain and snowfalls diminish in some areas of the world and become more extreme in other areas.
- A decline in food production due to drought and ocean fisheries decline from over-fishing and habitat destruction from warming waters.
- Increased coastal flooding due to rising sea levels. Flooding of major cities in low-lying coastal areas and inundation of island nations.
- Increased migration of millions of people seeking higher ground, food and fresh water from those areas of the world suffering the worst effects of global warming.
- Increased extreme weather events as the air, land and oceans continue to warm.
- The continued loss of biodiversity in both the plant and animal kingdoms.
- Increased social and economic disruption from all of the above.
It’s Not All Bad News
Photo: Aurora Adonai
Consider these headlines from around the world:
- Scientists say we’re on the cusp of a carbon dioxide–recycling revolution (Science Magazine)
- Michael Bloomberg to write $4.5 million check for Paris climate pact (Reuters)
- Australian scientists develop ‘sun-shield’ that could protect Great Barrier Reef from rising temperatures (Deutsche Welle)
- Israel announces plan to stop using coal, gasoline and diesel by 2030 (Times of Israel)
- CO2 turned into stone in Iceland in climate change breakthrough (Time)
- Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough (Inside Climate News)
- Germany Had So Much Renewal Energy Over Christmas It Had to Pay People to Use It (Science Alert)
- Wind and Solar could supply 80 percent of U.S. energy needs (Digital Trends)
- US Cities Are Suing the Fossil Fuel Industry to Stop Irreparable Climate Change Damage (Vice Impact)
- Five Countries Leading the Way Toward 100% Renewable Energy (Ecowatch)
- The ‘Mutant Enzymes’ Breaks Down Plastic (Smithsonian Magazine)
While President Trump indicated his intention to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2020 because it was a “bad deal” for the U.S. economy and jobs, he has also indicated he would rejoin if he got a better deal.
What few people understand is that climate research and climate change policy considerations are spread over fourteen agencies and departments in the U.S. government. Many remain active in international efforts to research and fight climate change. The Thwaites glacier research project and the Argo project are just two examples of U.S. international involvement.
With the federal government stepping back, there is a new face to U.S. global warming leadership in 2018 and it looks like this: 61 U.S. mayors (Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle to name a few); 10 state governors (California, New York, Colorado, and Oregon and six more); and private citizens like Michael Blumenthal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bill Gates.
Michael Blumenthal has pledged to write a $4.5 million check to cover U.S. financial commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement for 2018. This follows a $15 million commitment he made to fill the gap left by President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will be suing oil companies over global warming this year (2018). Internationally, China, France and Sweden are stepping to the forefront of the fight against global warming as the United States recedes.
In their fight to stop climate change, seventeen states, including California and New York, filed a lawsuit (May 2018) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging the EPA’s decision to roll back the CAFÉ standards the Obama Administration implemented in 2012. The standards challenged auto manufactures to achieve a fleet-wide fuel economy average of 54.5 MPG by 2025. These standards are for cars and light trucks and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA reported 28.5% of all 2016 GHG emissions came from the transportation sector of the U.S. economy. This includes emissions from cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes. Over 90% of all fuels used in transportation are fossil fuel based.
Understanding Our Predicament
We are in a race against time to help planet Earth and all its living organisms. There is still not a consensus in the scientific community, but most of the world’s climate scientists agree that humans are responsible, at least in part, for climate change because of the data correlation between the beginning of the industrial age and a measurable, corresponding increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Ice core samples from the poles and glaciers around the world do confirm that the change began about the same time as the Industrial Revolution and that greenhouse gases (mostly CO2) trap heat in the atmosphere. However, given the size of our planet and the complexity of her natural systems, there can be many other contributing factors, such as underwater volcanic activity warming the water of our oceans. NASA scientists are examining other planets in our solar system that also appear to be warming up.
We can continue to argue about the cause of global warming (a fallacious argument as there is never just one cause for something as complex as climate change), but that only delays us from taking responsibility for our contribution to the challenges before us. It ignores the impacts already occurring. NOAA reported in May 2018, that April was the 400th consecutive month of above-average global temperatures.
Photo Art: Jack Moreh, imagenslivres.com/
The one big question that remains to be answered is: Does the international community possess the political will to move the global economy to zero carbon emissions by 2050 in an effort to meet the 2C temperature increase by 2100? We are only 33 years away from 2050. Unfortunately, virtually all of the signatories to the Paris Agreement are falling short of their goals. That said, can the changes occurring in renewable energy carry us to the goal line? That answer is no. It will take more than just renewable energy to get us there and the development of the technology to do so is lagging behind the need.
A new study from Stanford University demonstrates the economic sense of meeting the Paris Agreement goals. It estimates failure to the meet them will cost the U.S. economy $6 trillion in the coming decades and the world economy $30 trillion. It also estimates that the most aggressive action on climate change will cost 0.1% of world GDP or about $87.5 billion. If hitting the Paris targets make economic sense, our ultimate measuring-stick these days, why is the world moving forward only with incremental change?
Writing for Ricochet Media, Damon Matthews, a Canadian professor of climate science and sustainability, has observed the following: “We cannot continue to grow our oil and gas industry — the single largest national contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — and decrease these same greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet our climate targets.” He added, “We are still speaking about “sustainability” as if economic growth is the only thing we really need to sustain. We forget (or ignore) the fact that economic growth is predicated on social and ecological foundations, which are currently being critically eroded.” He was writing about Canada, but these words can also be applied to all nations of the world.
The good news is that humankind is a remarkably resilient and inventive species, especially when pushed to the wall. The bad news is that it is also a species that tends to learn the hard way if it learns at all. There is a growing recognition by climate scientists that we will not meet the 2C target. Estimates of how much higher the average world temperature may go appearing in recent studies ranges from 3.6C to an extreme of 7C. A recent paper from MIT outlining mitigation strategies to hold global warming below 2C, defined a temperature increase above 1.5°C as dangerous; an increase greater than 3°C as catastrophic; and the impacts of going over 5°C as “unknown.”
So other questions arise: Given our scientific understanding and the obvious changes to Earth’s climate we are currently experiencing, why is more not being done? Drs. J.J. and Desiree Hurtak, founders of The Academy For Future Science, strongly feel that although the 2.0C is a good goal, we need to immediately begin considering new technical preparations for the climate change ahead. To name a few: Cape Town, South Africa needs desalination plants. All of Africa needs solar systems on their roofs. The United States and Europe need to develop and require more efficient water management systems. In Italy, the MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) project, a system of retractable gates designed to protect Venice and its artistic heritage from extreme high tides, is ten years behind schedule. plagued with cost over-runs, and growing evidence of significant design flaws. While big projects like these do not always work out, it is big projects and many others that are needed to protect humanity, especially along low-lying coastlines, and all life forms on Earth.
In the Bible, Adam was intended to be the caretaker of the planet, which gives rise to another question. Are we caretakes of Mother Earth today, or are we exploiters with little or no regard for the consequences of our actions? We are on the verge of a clear choice: to live in harmony within the natural cycles of the world, in unity consciousness with respect and gratitude for what Earth provides, or continue to live in the consciousness of separation, a mental detachment that enables one to view Gaia and her resources as an object to be used until gone.
A study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences takes a comprehensive look at quantifying the biomass or weight of every living category of life upon Earth—man, plants, animals, insects and even bacteria. The study has concluded that while the population of humankind (7.6 billion people) accounts for only 0.01% of the planet’s biomass, it “has caused the loss of 83% of the wild mammals and half of the plants” since the dawn of civilization. Clearly, we are not caretaking our home.
This split between head and heart most often arises when our political and economic priorities outweigh our environmental priorities. Ever since NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony before Congress in 1988 sparked a global awakening to climate change and the role fossil fuels and CO2 play in warming our planet, environmentalists have been speaking out about our exploitative treatment of Mother Earth. They have warned our actions are not in harmony with her natural systems and the resulting imbalances will eventually lead to catastrophe. From time to time, indigenous spiritual leaders have come forth and delivered a similar message to humankind. We are at that doorway now.
We can also see in the actions of humankind the imbalance between the masculine and feminine consciousness of the planetary mind and within the collective consciousness of man. The feminine nature and her role have been disrespected and diminished. The good news is that this changing. It is this feminine aspect of consciousness, the indwelling presence of the Divine, the heart element or Mothering element that brings balance to our scientific paradigm. As we seek to help the planet, we should understand that great scientific insights have come from spiritual inspiration.
On an even deeper level, through the metaphorical story of Adam and Eve, we see another level of our separation, this one from Divine consciousness whre we fell from the Garden into this tree of creation under the influence of the serpent. It is through Enoch, a Patriarch of the Old Testament and living before Noah, we learn our tree of life exist within an area of space filled with experimental trees of creation or programs of consciousness. These programs have beginnings and ends, usually in 6,000-year time cycles for the purpose of evolving the soul, learning to live in alignment with the will of the Divine and be in service (a caretaker) to all of Creation.
Many of the religious and spiritual traditions upon the earth are also speaking of an ending and a new beginning. For some Christian believers it is the End Times and the return of the Christ. The Hopi speak of moving from the Fourth World into the Fifth World. Some Buddhists await the return of the Maitreya Buddha, the future Buddha who is to return to teach the Dharma once again. Other indigenous groups are speaking about the return of the Star Nations. Metaphysical groups are talking of ascension into higher dimensional realities and a new golden age.
It is all consciousness. It is consciousness that got us into our climate predicament and it is consciousness that will get us out of it. We are being called to the opportunity to do something more, even while living in an increasingly polarized and chaotic world. We are being called to stretch beyond our tribal, nationalistic, and ethnocentric paradigms into a higher, unified perspective from which to confront these challenges. We need to focus on the opportunity ahead of us and not become too pessimistic about the changes we are experiencing today. Whether we speak of these changes in our system of things in the scientific language of climate change or in the spiritual terminology of the mystic, both are pointing to a future significantly different from what we know today. While the way it will happen remains to be seen, it will likely be resolved within the next thirty years. What is important is our freedom to choose.
We have before us an upward spiral of consciousness, the pathway of love, light, the heart, and a multi-dimensional mind. We also have a downward spiral of consciousness, the pathway of separation, anger and aggression with black and white thinking. Remembering this is a collective experience, we all have free will to choose which spiral to take. In doing so the wheat is separated from the chaff.
Courtesy of Mel Lyon and J.J. Hurtak 2007. All rights reserved.
More good news is that there is help “out there”, both physical and non-physical. There is an angelic hierarchy that has been caretaking this program of consciousness for the last 6,000 years. They are part of this transition and they step in to assist us as it is necessary. The change is occurring on multiple levels of awareness. Earth is coming “out of quarantine” and re-awakening to an understanding that our universe contains myriad levels and types of intelligence, some of which are in our image and likeness. However, we must also do our part. We must do the work to prepare for the coming positive changes even when the challenges appear overwhelming.
Where possible reduce your carbon foot print through lifestyle choices and your purse or wallet. More importantly, find the balance between your head and your heart, that point of peace where you will find the “still small voice” within you. Listen to it. Stay positive. Pick an issue of concern, learn about it and become an advocate for it. Support those people and organizations working towards a positive, wholistic future. Establish a spiritual practice that reinforces your conscious connection with the Divine. Pray and meditate to support all of the above. Remember that you are a multi-dimensional being of Light having a physical experience in the evolution of your soul created in the image and the likeness of the Divine.
Humankind may yet work its way through the many challenges it is facing today, including minimizing the impacts of climate change we are already experiencing. The climate clock is ticking and it’s getting louder. Now is the time to become the change you want to see.
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