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Published on September 20th, 2019 | by Carolyn Fortuna

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Are Major Climate Crisis Organizations Modeling A Livable Future On Climate Strike Day?

September 20th, 2019 by  


On a day when children, adolescents, and even some of their elders walked out of their schools and workplaces to demand climate crisis action, others were crying foul about environmental groups who adhere to unrealistic zero carbon emission target dates. One of those advocacy groups, Job One for Humanity, says that there was a “big problem with the September 20 Climate Strike.” Because major environmental groups supporting the Strike promote “different, incorrect, or competing global fossil fuel reduction targets and deadlines,” well-intentioned organizations are not only “inadequate and incorrect,” they “are not modeling a livable future.” Such a framework promotes poor cooperation, Job One for Humanity continues, rather than maintains healthy ecological systems.

A bit of a diatribe? Sure. But, you know what? They’re not alone. Many advocates around the world concur that setting zero carbon emission dates one or more decades out is too little, too late.

“Cape Cod Harbor,” photo by Carolyn Fortuna, CleanTechnica (available freely for reuse if correctly attributed)

It is becoming common consensus that, unless we make massive and immediate global fossil fuel usage reductions, a large portion of humanity is on its way to immense suffering or extinction within their lifetimes.

What other voices are pushing for stricter and quicker zero emission goals?

The IPCC outlines that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, yet such goals would offer clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, “limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C,” ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

The Guardian says, “A four-degree-warmer world is the stuff of nightmares and yet that’s where we’re heading in just decades.”

Nature Climate Change determines that “the likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0–4.9◦C.”

Science summarizes numerous global climate models developed for the 2021 United Nations’ next major assessment of global warming that are “now showing a puzzling but undeniable trend. They are running hotter than they have in the past. Soon the world could be, too.”

Do climate crisis organizations, which offer varying targets and deadlines to confront carbon reduction, fail to promote understanding about the cost of putting off inevitable carbon reduction strategies? Do these organizations mask the real price of fossil fuel pollution? What should these organizations be doing to help people the world over to apply hard climate action lessons to daily life?


One Perspective About Meeting Climate Crisis Goals

Sometimes emotionally-driven, certainly not peer-reviewed, Job One for Humanity is an advocacy group that calls for realistic global warming deadlines and tipping points. Otherwise, they say, humanity’s extinction possibilities — alongside that of many animal and biological species — will speed along at a rate that will become quickly out of reach.

climate crisis

Courtesy of Job One for Humanity

Most environmental groups are promoting various percentage levels of global fossil-fuel reductions and net-zero carbon anywhere from 2030 to 2050. Such targets are “wrong,” according to Job One for Humanity, and will act to thwart humanity’s ability to execute the correct global fossil fuel reduction targets.

Job for Humanity outlines 4 reasons why people everywhere should call out climate crisis organizations.

  1. Global warming is going be much worse than is commonly stated.
  2. Severe global warming consequences are going to arrive far sooner than is being disseminated. Moreover, many of these consequences are unavoidable.
  3. The current pattern of global temperature rise points to a reality of about 6 years away. That means we could, within the next 6 years, have the last realistic chance to control our global warming futures.
  4. At the current rate, it is unlikely that 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets can be met, yet these essential targets are all that is standing in the way of a mass extinction event within current humans’ lifetimes.

In order to achieve adequate and manageable global fossil fuel reductions, the world’s major environmental groups need to promote the same correct global fossil fuel reduction targets and deadlines. When environmental groups promote outdated or wrong global fossil fuel reduction deadlines, they become “a significant part of the problem.”

“Plastics during a Morning Beach Walk,” photo by Carolyn Fortuna, CleanTechnica (available freely for reuse if correctly attributed)

Blatant, In-Your-Face Data May Push Environmental Organizations to Push for Swifter Climate Action

Of course, many other approaches to decrying current levels of climate inaction rely on deep data analysis to draw conclusions about the need for expedient climate action.

The IPCC, for example, drew upon 6,000 scientific references cited and the contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers. Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, declared then that “the next few years are probably the most important in our history.” Working Group II had a goal to deal with impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability.

While its role is not to set climate policy or prescribe particular responses or solutions to climate change, organizations like NOAA provide robust scientific data needed to understand climate change and evaluate the impact of efforts to combat it. The NOAA graph above shows CO2 levels during the last three glacial cycles, as reconstructed from ice cores.

The second NOAA graphic (above) illustrates how global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels are now higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

In fact, NOAA points out that the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.

Air bubbles trapped in an Antarctic ice core extending back 800,000 years document the atmosphere’s changing carbon dioxide concentration. Over long periods, natural factors have caused atmospheric CO 2 concentrations to vary between about 170 to 300 parts per million (ppm). However, as a result of human activities since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels have increased to 400 ppm, higher than any time in at least the last one million years. The Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization.

Final Thoughts

Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few 100 years.

Today’s climate strike has made that short time elapse more visible than at any other time this century. Next, environmental organizations will need to make transparent the climate models that predict a heating of somewhere between 3C and 4C for 2100. 
 
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About the Author

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She's won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. As part of her portfolio divestment, she purchased 5 shares of Tesla stock. Please follow her on Twitter and Facebook.



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