From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.
There is No End to That Season Anymore
by Bill McKibben
I commit to take action because one country has poured more carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere than any other. That country is the United States — and thanks to Donald Trump it is also the one country that is not willing to join with the rest of the world to try and solve our gravest crisis.
Think about that. Every other nation on earth — even Syria, which barely has a functioning central government — has signed on to the Paris Accords. We signed on, too, of course, but then Donald Trump signed us off. His reasoning made little sense: somehow he decided it was a “bad deal” for the U.S., even though it asked very little of us, and even though we had — this bears repeating — caused most of the problem. You want to know whom global warming is a bad deal for? Bangladesh. The Maldives. Fiji. They caused none of the problem — their carbon emissions are a rounding error in any global table—and they are going to lose huge chunks of their territory. The Marshall Islands? They may sink.
But we’ll take at least some of the punishment, too. Indeed, as if guided by karma, the months after Trump’s grandstand play have featured America’s worst rainstorm (fifty-one inches in Hurricane Harvey), the world’s longest stretch of 185 mile-per-hour winds (Irma) and the utter ugly destruction that Maria brought to Puerto Rico. Napa and Sonoma — the good life defined — saw a fire that took forty-two lives follow hard on the heels of record heat and drought. It was barely put out when Santa Barbara and environs caught fire — the largest blaze in California history, which came in December, two months after the traditional end of the state’s wildfire season. But there is no end to that season anymore, not in our hot dry new world. And no end to the troubles: after the fire finished burning all the plants in the area, epic rains produced mudslides that killed twenty people. The U.S. set a new record for costliest disasters last year.
In that kind of world, it’s a constant and ongoing menace to have as president a man who believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. Everyone’s entitled to disagree about policy, but disagreeing about physics is something that neither our nation nor our world can, at this late date, afford.
Take action today:
Join the Fossil Free USA campaign to demand a just and equitable transition to a world with 100% renewable energy for all.
Bill McKibben is a journalist, environmentalist and author. He is a founder of 350.org, an international climate coalition.