As the media, both liberal and conservative, drone on about the fiscal cliff, we would all do well to shift our focus to the more significant event, the carbon cliff. While the so-called fiscal cliff is a human contrivance that has no long-term bearing on our lives, the carbon cliff is a measurable number that has everything to do with life on this planet.
There is an unrefuted consensus among scientists, (the same people that brought us space exploration, medical advances, and telecommunications, etc.) that 350ppm is the highest safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide for a livable planet. Above this level glaciers melt, oceans become acidic, and unprecedented storms, droughts, and wildfires occur. This in turn exacerbates depleted fisheries, crop failures, and beetle infestations of pine forests, to name but a few of the consequences already observed.
So how close are we to the carbon cliff? At the current level, 392 ppm, and rising 2-3 ppm/year, we are over the cliff.
Astounding, isn’t it, that climate change was barely mentioned in the presidential campaign? Perhaps out ersatz leaders don’t want to distress us with bad news. But there is good news here: we already have the knowledge and technology to reduce the level back to 350 ppm, where it was in 1988. What we don’t have is the will to act, mired as we are in an economic system dependent on consumption.
Now that nature will no longer allow us to be in denial about the state of the planet, we cannot let ourselves be distracted by talk of meaningless economic cliffs. We cannot wait for corporate media to inform us on the situation, in between spiels of advertising. We also don’t have the luxury of waiting for action from our leaders.
We must all act individually to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels (no one is exempt), and at the same time demand that our government, at all levels, acts to curb carbon emissions. Now is the time for all good men, and women and children, to come to the aid of their planet, regardless of the fiscal cliff. Please check the website 350.org for more information.
Mary W. Abel
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