– Pia Gallegos
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be issuing a new report that nearly doubles future warming predictions. Investigative journalist Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice, explains:
Based on observational data, we are easily within a decade of losing the summer sea ice in the Arctic. Within another decade, Earth will warm another .5°C due to the melting ice alone. There is already another .5°C warming to come from CO2 that has already been emitted but we’ve yet to experience the warming. The water vapor effect from these events (and other processes already in motion) doubles the impact of warming from other sources, adding another 1°C warming. Hence, at 3°C warming, most of the Amazon rainforest is lost, which in itself adds another 1.5°C of warming. At this point, most likely, Earth is tipped into a hothouse state, possibly into conditions that render it uninhabitable by humans.
According to UNM Professor and climatologist David Gutzler, the Southwest is on the front lines of rapid temperature rise, resulting in less rain, less snow runoff, and more evaporation. He says, “It’s a frightening picture of treeless mountains where it’s much dryer and hotter.”
New Mexico has had wonderful precipitation this season but the spike in rainfall is a symptom of climate disruption across the U.S. This week State Climatologist Dr. David DuBois made an upbeat presentation to NM Legislature’s interim Water and Natural Resources Committee on above-average water levels and snowpacks around the state even as he warned in passing of “longer term droughts.” State Engineer John D’Antonio told the committee that the state is now in a “recovery phase” when it comes to the state’s water storage. I was there, and neither DuBois nor D’Antonio mentioned global heating as an element of current weather patterns or as an impending ecological danger.
On June 5, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted that the Democratic National Committee has decided against dedicating one of its presidential primary debates to the issue of climate change. Inslee led the push for a climate change debate, and the idea was supported by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former Obama cabinet official Julián Castro.
Inslee responded, “The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field who want to debate the existential crisis of our time.” The Sunrise Movement called the DNC decision an “outrage,” tweeting, “This is an emergency. We need @TheDemocrats to act like it.”
Recall that in August, 2018, the DNC reversed a ban on fossil fuel donations.
How do we respond to emerging environmental catastrophe in the face of leadership who fails to prioritize it? In a talk at the Lensic Theater last March, Dahr Jamail advised us to “serve the earth.” In this article, he phrases it as a need for connection with the planet:
By way of the corporate capitalist industrial growth culture within which most of us have been raised and immersed, we have become disconnected from the planet we are so deeply part of. This, I believe, is the root cause of the climate crisis we now find ourselves in. Hence, the first step toward answering the question of “how to be” during this time, which must be answered before any of us can decide “what to do,” is to connect ourselves back to the planet.
We each have to find our own way to connect with the earth and to serve it.
Gardening and taking hikes in nature can help us appreciate the rhythms and wonders of life on earth. Working inside the Democratic Party to put climate disruption on the front burner is one way to serve the earth.