Climate action necessary

Appearing in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Saturday, January 2, 2021   Letter to the Editor by Aaron Dunbar, Lowell, OH

“No, Joe, we’re not in a ‘climate crisis’” writes Rich Lowry of the National Review, in an ill-informed and irresponsible article published in the News and Sentinel on Dec. 29.

As was pointed out by the individual who brought this piece to my attention, there is far, far too much wrong with Lowry’s assertions for me to be able to respond to them all in a single letter.

Essentially, Lowry admits to the reality of anthropogenic global warming (a scientific fact), but argues that the crisis does not warrant any kind of urgent response, and that we human beings will simply “adapt” to rising sea levels, soaring global temperatures, intensifying storms, and the host of other disastrous conditions brought about by our failure to curb excess greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s interesting to note that this stance, that climate change is real but that we shouldn’t be too worried about it, has become an almost inevitable response from the camp of former climate change skeptics and deniers. The evidence has become too overwhelming for them to go on denying the problem altogether, so instead they simply try to downplay the threat and tell us to keep our fingers crossed for the best.

President-elect Joe Biden, Lowry insists, “needs a crisis atmosphere, the facts and science be damned.”

The premise that Biden would need to manufacture any kind of crisis to exploit is immediately absurd — one might think that the global pandemic of the past year would be perfectly sufficient for this purpose, were Lowry’s assertion anything more than baseless paranoia.

In any case, the “facts and science” Lowry refers to are abundantly clear. In 2019, over 11,000 scientists from around the globe signed on to a warning of “untold suffering” should the climate crisis continue to go unaddressed. “We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” say the authors, in a statement that’s about as straightforward as they come.

Lowry, meanwhile, repeatedly cites Bjorn Lomborg as the only source in his article; a single individual with a reputation for cherrypicking scientific data on climate change, and who’s been formally accused of scientific dishonesty under Denmark’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

A focus on singular, contrarian “experts” with dissenting, discredited viewpoints is, again, an exhaustingly common tactic used by those who wish to discourage swift and meaningful action on climate change.

Every single President going back to at least JFK has received some warning about the threat of climate change. It may well have been the case that we could’ve averted a crisis had we started taking action half a century ago. But we didn’t, largely due to the insistence of pseudoscientific naysayers with an iron grip on public consciousness.

We now have no choice but to take bold, unified action on climate if we wish to have any chance of averting catastrophe, as we should have started doing several decades (and administrations) ago.