Our Life Support System is Flashing Code Red

Demand for the heavily polluting fossil fuel climbs as average temperatures worldwide have risen since pre-industrial times

By Joseph Biby

Our life support system, planet earth, is flashing a code red. As 90-year-old actor William Shatner recently said after going to space, “We are living on a tiny oasis of life . . . earth is and will remain our only home.  We have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable.”

In 2021, a Colorado wildfire tallied losses that surpassed two billion dollars, by far the costliest in Colorado history. The Boulder County fire broke out unusually late – in December –following months of drought. Experts say the winter grassland fire was rare, but similar events will become more common as climate change warms the planet.

Debate continues, but action has stalled as tensions increase among the seven states with stakes in the Colorado River Basin. The basin, which provides drinking water to more than 40 million people and irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s farmlands, is drying up. America’s two largest reservoirs, Lakes Mead and Powell, were at 28 percent and 26 percent of capacity last November.

Coal use across the world is set to reach a new record this year. Demand for the heavily polluting fossil fuel climbs as average temperatures worldwide have risen since pre-industrial times. In Europe, which is scrambling to replace Russian oil, some countries have re-opened shuttered coal-fired power plants. China, the world’s biggest consumer of coal, said recently that it plans to boost production through 2025.

In the U.S., political fortunes of opposing candidates and parties can, in some cases, hinge on the cost of a gallon of gas. Imagine the profit incentives to the world’s wealthiest corporations, Exxon for example, to contribute to candidates promoting fossil fuel extraction. Imagine if Exxon could manipulate the cost of a gallon of gas to sink the political party it disfavors.

We can avoid an impending catastrophe. There will likely be no next best opportunity to salvage an inhabitable planet. Begin immediately. Educate ourselves and young people. Engage climate change deniers. Persuade and implore. Without a groundswell of unprecedented grass-roots activism and applied political leverage we will continue to sink this listing ship. It’s all-hands-on-deck code red.

Joseph Biby

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