It’s hard to be optimistic about climate action, not in a week when federal scientists reported that “the Arctic shows no sign of returning” to the “reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” Not in a month when California’s wildfires show every sign of burning straight through Christmas. And not in a moment when the federal government keeps scrubbing basic climate information from its websites.
But something big is starting to shift. After years of effort from activists, there are signs that the world’s financial community is finally rousing itself in the fight against global warming. A foretaste came last month when Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — the world’s biggest — said that it is considering divestment from holdings in fossil fuel companies.… Seguir leyendo »
As tens of thousands of people across the United States rushed to airports and took to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration by Muslims from seven countries, and refugees generally; as four federal judges issued emergency orders to prevent immediate deportations and sixteen state attorney generals made a rare joint statement calling the president’s action “unconstitutional, un-American, and unlawful”—we recalled a refugee we’d met not long ago from Nepal, where he’d spent more than a decade in a refugee camp. Resettled in New Hampshire, he was working several jobs, having already learned English and gotten a degree as a surgical technician.… Seguir leyendo »
The climate news last week came out of Paris, where the world’s nations signed off on an agreement to finally begin addressing global warming.
Or, alternately, the climate news came out of Chennai, India, where hundreds died as flooding turned a city of five million into an island. And out of Britain, where the heaviest rains ever measured over 24 hours in the Lake District turned picturesque villages into lakes. And out of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, where record rainfalls flooded atolls.
In the hot, sodden mess that is our planet as 2015 drags to a close, the pact reached in Paris feels, in a lot of ways, like an ambitious agreement designed for about 1995, when the first conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Berlin.… Seguir leyendo »
Durante los últimos años, un número creciente de personas han estado examinando seriamente lo que está ocurriendo con nuestro planeta – sequías sin precedentes históricos, aumento del nivel del mar, inundaciones masivas – y dichas personas reconocieron, finalmente, que la actividad humana es la que impulsa un rápido cambio climático, Pero ¿adivinen qué? Exxon (ahora ExxonMobil) ya tenían una leve idea de todo esto, incluso en el año 1978.
Y, a principios de la década de 1980, los científicos de Exxon tenían mucho más que una leve idea. Ellos no sólo entendían la ciencia detrás del cambio climático, sino que también reconocían el propio papel superlativo que desempeñaba la empresa en lo que respecta a impulsar el fenómeno.… Seguir leyendo »
If historians someday need to explain how mankind managed to blow the fight against climate change, they need only point to last month’s shareholder meeting at Exxon Mobil headquarters in Dallas.
The meeting came two days after Texas smashed old rainfall records — almost doubled them, in some cases — and as authorities were still searching for families swept away after rivers crested many feet beyond their previous records. As Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson — the highest-paid chief executive of the richest fossil fuel firm on the planet — gave his talk, the death toll from India’s heat wave mounted and pictures circulated on the Internet of Delhi’s pavement literally melting.… Seguir leyendo »
Societal change usually happens slowly, even once it’s clear there’s a problem. That’s because, in a country as big as the United States, public opinion moves in leisurely currents. Change often requires going up against powerful, established interests, and it can take decades for those currents to erode the foundations of our special-interest fortresses. Think civil rights, gay marriage, equal rights for women.
Even facing undeniably real problems — say, discrimination against gay people — one can make the case that gradual change is the best option. Had some mythical liberal Supreme Court declared, in 1990, that gay marriage was now the law of the land, the backlash might have been swift and severe.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s scary to watch the video from Japan, and not just because of the frightening explosions at the Fukushima plant or the unstoppable surge of tsunami-wash through the streets. It’s almost as unnerving to see the aftermath – the square miles of rubble, with boats piled on cars; the completely bare supermarket shelves. Because the one thing we’ve never really imagined is going to the supermarket and finding it empty.
What the events reveal is the thinness of the margin on which modernity lives. There’s not a country in the world more modern and civilised than Japan; its building codes and engineering prowess kept its great buildings from collapsing when the much milder quake in Haiti last year flattened everything.… Seguir leyendo »