Op-ed: Meh, it’s just the climate

Op-ed: Meh, it’s just the climate August 26, 2019

SO Trump is over there having face time with his buddies ‘Angela’ and ‘Emmanuel’ and that guy in charge of the United Kingston. He says he’s having a great time, but it seems his people are kvetching.

Trump and France’s President Macron at the G7 Summit. Image via YouTube.

Senior aides in Donald Trump’s entourage have accused the G7 host and French president, Emmanuel Macron, of seeking to embarrass his US counterpart by making the summit focus on “niche issues” such as climate change, according to multiple US media reports.

The spark for the fuse appeared to be lunch. Macron whisked the US president away for an impromptu meal for two on an oceanfront terrace at the Hotel du Palais. Trump initially appeared frosty but later called it “the best meeting we have yet had”.

Senior administration officials quoted by the New York Times among others were not so sure, complaining the summit had moved from core issues such as global economics and trade to “niche issues” such as climate change, gender equality and development in Africa. The topics were chosen to appeal to Macron supporters, and even to embarrass Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, they said, as protesters marched the streets of the French city calling for action to tackle the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest.

I find it fascinating that people with their hands on the levers of the US government consider the climate we all depend on for our survival a “niche” issue. If climate isn’t central what is? Trump’s rate of profit on his Irish golf course?

Thousands of protesters gathered on the Spanish/French border to protest against the G7 Summit in France. Some wore Trump masks. Image via YouTube/Al Jazeera

It’s Trump’s “view” that climate change is a left-wing hoax designed to steal all his money and impose Soshulizm on the helpless bankers and real estate speculators, but in the real world we can’t help noticing that climate change seems to be going a lot faster than predicted. The fires in Siberia for instance:

Despite statements by Russian authorities, the intensity of forest fires in Siberia is not decreasing. The 4.3 million hectare fire – an area larger than Denmark – is contributing significantly to climate change. Since the beginning of the year a total of 13.1 million hectares has burned.

Fires in the Taiga have been raging every year, but this summer’s blazes have reached unprecedented size and strength. The Siberian fires are emitting more than 166 Mt CO2 — nearly as much as 36 million cars emit a year. Fires in Siberian forests are especially dangerous for the climate as they are the source of black carbon that settles on the Arctic ice and accelerates its melting.

There are the Himalayan glaciers:

At least a third of the ice in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush will thaw this century as temperatures rise, disrupting river flows vital for growing crops from China to India, scientists said on Monday.

Vast glaciers make the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region – which is home to the world’s highest peaks topped by Mount Everest and K2 – a “third pole” behind Antarctica and the Arctic region, they said.

Much of it will be bare rocks in less than a century, the scientists say.

The report, by 210 authors, said that more than a third of the ice in the region will melt by 2100 even if governments take tough action to limit global warming under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

And two-thirds of the ice could vanish if governments fail to rein in greenhouse gas emissions this century. 

So the rivers will dry up.

The study said the thaw will disrupt rivers including the Yangtze, Mekong, Indus and Ganges, where farmers rely on glacier melt water in the dry season. About 250 million people live in the mountains and 1.65 billion people in river valleys below.

In river valleys where the rivers support agriculture.

Also melting? Greenland.

Scientists didn’t expect to see Greenland melt at this rate for another 50 years: By the last week of July, the melting had reached levels that climate models projected for 2070 in the most pessimistic scenario.

On August 1, Greenland’s ice sheet lost 12.5 billions tons of ice, more than any day since researchers started recording ice loss in 1950, The Washington Post reported.

The dramatic melt suggests that Greenland’s ice sheet is approaching a tipping point that could set it on an irreversible course towards disappearing entirely. If that happens, catastrophic sea-level rise would swallow coastal cities across the globe. As ice melt continues to outpace scientists’ expectations, some fear that could happen more quickly than they thought.

And there’s the Amazon.

Official figures show 78,383 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since 2013. Experts say the clearing of land during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing, has aggravated the problem.

More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin, where more than 20 million people live. Some 1,663 new fires were ignited between Thursday and Friday, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Why does the Amazon matter?

[T]he Amazon plays a major role in many of the processes that make our planet habitable: water cycles, weather patterns, and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The rainforest is also home to more than 30 million people and over 10% of the world’s biodiversity. Scientists see potential for new medicines in unstudied Amazon plants.

The more than 2.5 million square miles of Amazon rainforest are also one of our greatest buffers against the climate crisis, since the trees absorb carbon dioxide, thereby keeping it out of the atmosphere.

But deforestation threatens all of that. Humans have cut down nearly 20% of the Amazon in the last 50 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). If another 20% of the Amazon disappears, that could trigger a “dieback” scenario in which the forest would dry out and become a savannah. That process would release billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and raise global temperatures.

And the coral reefs are dying, fish populations are crashing, there’s a drought in Costa Rica … In short no, climate change is in no way a “niche” issue, even at a conference concerned with trade. Trade can’t very well flourish on a planet that’s turned into a dusty rock, so if humans don’t pull their socks up and do something about it there won’t be any G7 or any heads of state to attend it or any surviving people to follow the news about it.

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  • Broga

    Trump is a fool. At the very least he is a dangerous clown. How he is allowed to continue as the USA President is a mystery. We have similar types in the UK. He wants one of them to be the UK Ambassador to the USA.

    The tragedy is that their idiocies affect us all. Our species seems determined to be suicidal.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    If climate change is a hoax then its a very well organised one. Melting glaciers must have cost the hoaxers a lot of time and effort. I wonder id its the same group that did the fake moon landings and made us believe the earth is round

  • rubaxter

    These are the same intellectual dullards and emotionally stunted trolls who still resent it being true that Cigarettes Cause Cancer, Fluoridation is a Benefit, Asbestos Causes Cancer, Seatbelts Save Lives, Black Peoples’ Hair Doesn’t Clog Swimming Pool Filters, along with every other Thinking Adult new idea since WWII, at the least.

    The only reason these poltroons aren’t calling primarily for the Repeal of the New Deal is because that crowd is almost all dead.

    They will never agree to any new idea because John “Chickenhawk” Wayne and Saint Ronnie the Voodoo Economist and Racist aren’t around to tell them it was really a KKKonservative Idea before the Libruls thought of it, and George Washington came to them in a dream and tole’em that.

    Take a line through every caricature Frankie Boyle has done of a Tory lawmaker, and there you have Duh-Nald Trump and The Deplorables.

  • jh

    He’s merely one small symptom. The machinery that allowed Trump and his fellow republicans to win is the real problem. As long as we have conservatives who listen to their propaganda rather than being humble and learning something… we’re going to be repeating this cycle until the human race goes extinct. I’m willing to bet that even when we see massive flooding along our shore lines (and many small towns are being relocated even now)… they’re still going to say “the weather constantly changes”. Those who remain arrogant in their ignorance will continue to party and the worst thing is that we will have to save them in order to save ourselves. This climate change thing is such a big problem that it requires all the nations of the world to unite and all the people to unite to try to mitigate, not reverse, mitigate the effects.

    If I had my way, I’d register all the people who want to do nothing and then punish them and their families till they are no more. This kind of arrogant stupidity is too dangerous to allow to live.

  • WallofSleep

    What if we tell them that rising oceans are going to cause a mass immigration problem?

  • Broga

    I read that New York is vulnerable as is much of the East Coast of the USA. The same can be said of much of the UK and many other countries.
    The seas are polluted with plastic particles, there is scarcely a river that hasn’t had sewage flood into it, fish are contaminated with mercury, 100,000 sharks are still killed every year and often for their fins (the wounded animal is often thrown back unable to swim), the Amazon Rain forest is being burned to clear it for cattle, extreme weather is increasing, the number of insects on which we depend has decreased dramatically, etc. etc. etc.

    I can’t see that the crisis is being seen as a crisis. A letter in the respected “New Scientist” complained that an earlier letter said we should be in a panic when we needed a much more measured approach. In another magazine, last year, after I wrote an article on this theme, I was described, or at least it implied, that I was a “sandal clad hippie” and I should “lighten up.” I think things are changing but far too slowly.

    And, as this is The Freethinker, I should mention that many Christians remain convinced that as we are special to God he will ensure that we will be “saved.”

  • barriejohn

    They will!

  • barriejohn

    He allegedly asked why they couldn’t nuke hurricanes, though he appears to be backtracking on that suggestion now. I posted the link on an earlier thread and asked why he doesn’t just build a wall!


  • Jim Jones

    And then there’s his suggestion of a G7 at his bedbug infested golf course.

    “What if they held a war G7 and no one came?”

  • Broga

    I had forgotten about the wall. Could be used as a commitment for Trump’s bid for a second term. Why waste such a persuasive commitment? It worked last time so try it again. Whether any of Trump’s promises/commitments are fulfilled seems irrelevant. The verbiage is all.

  • barriejohn
  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    I tried. Trust me, there’s an entire country of over 100 million people, Bangladesh, that’s just waiting to be flooded and washed off the face of the Earth. Conditions in Panama and Central America will become lethal to human habitation due to wet-bulb temperatures. If you think we’re experiencing immigration problems now, just wait until the state in Panama falls apart and there’s nobody left to manage the Panama Canal.

    They dismiss all this as “alarmism.” You can’t reach them; they’ve already decided they know the right answers and you can’t convince them otherwise.

  • persephone

    These are all old and older men. They don’t care, at all. It’s always them first, and whatever smoking charcoal of a world that comes, they’ll probably be dead, or they’ve bought one of those $1M+ bunkers to live in in the Midwest.