One of the top-notch items on President Joe Biden’s agenda is a return full-steam to addressing climate change, which under T-Rump was not just put on a back burner, but tossed-off the stove completely. In November, Biden named John Kerry to head the assault, making the move even more serious by creating for Kerry a new, most-important slot: Special presidential envoy on climate change.
Significant in itself, among a flurry of Executive Orders Biden signed in his first day on the job was for the US to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which is maybe the chief course to get a handle worldwide (nearly 200 national signatories) on the worsening environmental crisis.
Although it will take 30 days for the US to officially rejoin the accord, this morning was a giant leap forward — Kerry spoke at the virtual opening session of the UN Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands:
"I regret that my country has been absent the past 3 years in climate action.
It’s now cheaper to minimize damage than in cleaning up."
— CASsummit2021 (@CASsummit2021) January 25, 2021
Kerry played it humble in communicating the dire straits for the planet — via UK’s Independent:
Mr Kerry said: “Three years ago scientists gave us a stark warning. They said we have 12 years within which to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Now we have nine years left and I regret that my country has been absent for three of those years.”
He added: “We are proud to be back. We come back, I want you to know, with humility for the absence of the last four years and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it.”
Mr Kerry highlighted that the US had spent $265bn in one year just to clean up after three storms. “We’ve reached the point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage, or minimising it at least, than cleaning up.”
He noted the critical goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global heating to 1.5C, and how the world is currently far off track, heading for a 3.7-4.5C future with current emissions.
This would mean “fundamentally unliveable conditions” for the most vulnerable and poorest people on earth, Mr Kerry said, and that it was a matter of “conscience and common sense” to urgently reduce emissions.
The climate envoy noted that President Biden was making climate change a “top priority”.
“We have a president now, thank god, that leads, tells the truth, and is seized by this issue. And President Biden knows we have to mobilise in unprecedented ways to meet a challenge that is fast accelerating,” he said.
Mr Kerry closed his remarks by emphasising the importance of adaptation, and getting to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“There is simply no adapting to a three or four degree world except for the very richest and most privileged,” he said.
“If we don’t act boldly and immediately by building resilience to climate change, we are likely going to see dramatic reversals in economic development for everybody.”
Climate-wise, we’re in shitsville. Just about every time you turn around some new shitty study indicates the climate is warming still, accelerating in some places, and we’re quickly approaching a fail-safe/turn-around place. In fact, scary research published last November at Scientific Reports, which according to EcoWatch, claimed ‘“…humanity is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool.”‘
While some experts said the study was ‘misleading’ and not ‘credible,’ the urgency is still there.
However, confirmation continues — via Bloomberg this morning and melting ice:
Melting on the ice sheets has accelerated so much over the past three decades that it’s now in line with the worst-case climate warming scenarios outlined by scientists.
A total of 28 trillion metric tons of ice was lost between 1994 and 2017, according to a research paper published in The Cryosphere on Monday.
The research team led by the University of Leeds in the U.K. was the first to carry out a global survey of global ice loss using satellite data.
“The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” lead author Thomas Slater said in a statement.
“Although every region we studied lost ice, losses from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have accelerated the most.”
Yet with Biden and Kerry, we’ve a chance, though, slim-to-none, but a chance…
(Illustration from the UN’s International Children’s Painting Competition, and found here).