• December 5th, 2022
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The Summer of Our Discontent


 

Javier Sierra

 

The planet’s Northern Hemisphere has endured its hottest summer in recorded history. China went through the world’s worst drought in history, the US Southwest its worst in 1,200 years and Europe its worst one in 500 years.

 

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, has recorded its lowest level since it was built in 1937. The huge lake and the Colorado River, which feeds it, are the main source of water for millions of Southwest residents, including 20 million Latinos.

 

But those are just some of the symptoms of the accelerating pace of the climate crisis around the world, including of course, Latinos. My community in the US and Latin Americans in general disproportionately suffer the effects of this planetary emergency.

 

The CO2 in the atmosphere, mostly from fossil fuel emissions, has reached its highest level in 4.5 million years. Back then, the sea level was 50 feet higher than it is today.

 

We just have to open the window or check the news to ascertain that the climate crisis is already here. Hurricane Fiona has left at least one million Puerto Ricans without electricity, without water and almost without hope. Biblical floods have displaced 30 million Pakistanis. Thousands of Western Europeans have died in unprecedented heat waves. And so many other tragedies the climate crisis is causing are piling up around the planet.

 

Are you in favor of a fossil fuel industry committed to destroying the planet’s atmosphere in exchange for profits or are you in favor of assuring a prosperous and vibrant future for our children and grandchildren?

 

According to a report by Deloitte’s Center for Sustainable Progress, climate inaction could cost the world economy $138 trillion by the year 2070. A new landmark study by the Francis Crick Institute in London revealed that fossil fuel pollution plays a fundamental role in the origin of cancer, especially lung cancer.

 

Why does humanity keep poisoning itself and the planet? That is the question we must ask the fossil fuel industry, who insists on destroying the planet’s atmosphere in exchange for stratospheric profits.

 

But even when we ask them, they lie to us. A Congressional committee had access to several Big Oil corporations’ internal communications that uncovered the industry’s shallow pledges to fight the climate crisis. In one email, Shell leadership indicated that their promises to reach zero emissions “had nothing to do with our business plans.” “Big Oil executives are laughing at the people trying to protect our planet while they knowingly work to destroy it,” the commission stated.

 

In spite of all this, climate fighters keep scoring victory after victory. The Senate has just ratified the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol, to end the manufacturing and sale of hydrofluorocarbons, a group of climate super polluters. Their impact on the heating of the planet is so extreme, its elimination will avoid half a degree of warming, an enormity.

 

A University of Oxford study revealed that switching from dirty to clean energy will save the planet $12 trillions by 2050. Another one from Stanford University concluded that the transition to clean energy will pay for itself in only six years. More people work in the clean energy industry than in the dirty energy one.

 

The summer of our discontent needs to motivate us to ask our politicians the following question: Are you in favor of a fossil fuel industry committed to destroying the planet’s atmosphere in exchange for profits or are you in favor of assuring a prosperous and vibrant future for our children and grandchildren?

 

That is the question of the century.

 

Javier Sierra writes the monthly bilingual column Sierra & Tierra.

 

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