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No time for cynicism

Updated: Mar 30


The past year, the warmest on record, led to January 2024 being a moisture record breaker, testifying to our climate changing rapidly. Two hundred years in the making, the climate crisis has been scientifically predicted since 1954.
President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 was so convinced and alarmed by these scientific studies that he wanted action to be taken immediately. The president and political leaders were confronted with resistance from the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Automobile Manufacturers Association, who opposed raising that alarm. The invisibility of carbon emissions made them mysterious to people. Finding other power sources sounded foolish. The problem though continued to be quietly raised by scientists according to the Guardian Newspaper (guardian.org) and the De Smog, an international journalistic media website.
The lack of national action worsened the crisis. Ironically, the US 1950s and ’60 studies documenting the harm of carbon emissions were partly funded by the automotive industry and big oil but then discredited by them in the 1980s when their profitability was threatened if the change occurred. If action had happened then, our climate would be more stable now. This newly revealed denial of scientific evidence may cause some to be cynical, but cynicism will cause greater inaction.
The fossil fuel and the automotive industries have been of tremendous benefit by making transportation easy, but the power source has been hard on our world and is slowly poisoning all living things. Indigenous peoples and other keen naturalists along with scientists have also continuously warned us that carbon emissions (C02) are harmful to plants, animals, and humanity.
The December 2023 Global Carbon Project report by an international consortium of scientists and 90 institutions, offers data to verify that world fossil fuel emissions are up 1.1% over 2022 confirming that past warnings have gone mostly unheeded while our planet warms, floods and fires multiply yearly. This is not good news, but being cynical will not help.
Incremental climate action due to US environmental policies and laws along with the work of 'ordinary citizens' has led to lower emissions here. However, as the greatest emitter overall, the US has more responsibility and must do more to increase the pace of change. Other nations must own their share of the problem and also act.
The US must make huge changes to cut emissions to be a genuine planetary partner. We must collaborate with other countries. 'The climate crisis is a universal threat to humankind and we all have a responsibility to deal with it as rapidly as we can,' John Kerry, Special U.S. Climate Envoy stated last summer. In December 2023 at COP 28 in Dubai, UAE he announced the U.S. was in support of phasing out fossil fuels.
U.S. automotive employees working on production lines making hybrid and electric vehicles are helping that change to occur. These vehicles with lower emissions, do not completely solve the problem. Still, a huge change in transportation fuel or power source must occur since it now accounts for 29% of greenhouse gases according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. electric vehicle industry has some growing pains, but shifting to electric is moving faster in Europe and China. However, that enthusiasm must be tempered by the environmental degradation and water consumption occurring in uranium mining needed to produce lithium batteries. Further research is essential.

Pope Francis has been repeatedly urging multilateralism, the world planning together to save life on this planet. The United Nations Meetings on Climate Change (COP) held annually are where such agreements can happen. At COP 28 in December two hundred nations agreed for the first time that fossil fuel is the problem. COP 28 also directed the new UN Loss and Damage Fund to compensate vulnerable countries for the mitigation of climate disasters. These decisions are tremendous life-giving choices for the planet.
— Sister Janet Ryan, IHM is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all. She resides in Monroe.

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