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Articles Tagged with climate change

environmental-protection-326923_1920-1024x683COVID-19 has had disastrous effects on humans around the globe. It has killed thousands, left even more in financial despair, and infected millions of people worldwide. However, it does not come without a silver lining. As a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns, air pollution, which plays a major role in whether those infected with COVID-19 live or die, is at its lowest level in years. If we pay close enough attention, this pandemic can also function as a learning moment for the climate crisis.

Worldwide, air pollution levels have dropped drastically as a result of shelter-in-place orders. The Himalayas are visible to those in India for the first time in years, skies across the globe are clearer than they’ve been in a very long time, and air pollution levels are the best they’ve been in nearly three decades. Perhaps more importantly,  highways are empty, planes are grounded, and factories have slowed production, reducing hazardous emissions in the air. While these improvements are exciting, they are temporary. The sharp reduction in fossil fuel pollution as a direct result of shelter-in-place orders has caused a short-term improvement in the quality of air that we are breathing.

However, we cannot expect these results to continue once the pandemic is over and orders are lifted. We must use this moment to pay attention and move forward into a new and better future. If we do not, when the shutdowns are over and life returns to the way it was, so will air pollution levels. We’re already seeing this happen in China, where the shutdown in response to COVID-19 is being slowly lifted. China’s air pollution levels dropped just like ours have. Now that their shutdown is being lifted, air pollution levels have jumped right back up to where they were before. Not only is this extremely disappointing for the fate of our planet, but it’s also extremely scary given that their shelter-in-place orders are not even fully lifted yet. This means that it’s possible that China’s air pollution levels may be even worse once the pandemic is fully over.

climate-change-2254711_1920.jpgThe world is heading for a potential climate catastrophe and a recently released report has unmasked the biggest corporations responsible. The report entitled “Carbon Majors: Accounting for Carbon and Methane Emissions 1854-2010”, by researcher Richard Heede, “offers the most complete picture to date of which institutions extracted the fossil fuels that have been the root cause of global warming since the Industrial Revolution.”

In other words, this report lists which corporations are responsible for the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions that are fueling climate change. It’s obvious that energy corporations would be on this list. What is surprising is how few corporations can be responsible for so much. A full 63% of carbon dioxide emissions since the 1850s can be traced back to only 90 of the largest fossil fuel and cement producers in the world. Predictably, the United States accounts for a large share of these corporate giants. Among the nefarious 90 are the 21 American corporations listed below:

Chevron Texaco

Thumbnail image for coal-1626401_1920.jpgYour average second-grader knows that 1,300 is not the same as 50,000…..and that 400 is not the same as 7,000.

But the man who heads the US EPA evidently does not know this.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt was all over the airwaves the last few days, defending the United States’ backing out of the Paris climate change accord by saying that the decision was necessary to support coal industry job creation. As statistical evidence to support this, Pruitt claimed:

If you care about the environment’s impact on our life and health, should you care about whether Judge Neil Gorsuch, who President Trump has just nominated, is approved for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?

Yes. You absolutely should. Here’s why:

(1) Trump has a plan to dismantle environmental regulation [cite to my blog of earlier this week]. That plan includes Trump’s determination to encase in American law his scientifically fraudulent view that climate change/global warming is a “hoax”. To leave no room for doubt on this, Trump appointed to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) a man named Scott Pruitt, who, as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, has sued the EPA some 14 times, mostly arguing that EPA has no right to regulate the petroleum industry. That’s the industry most responsible for global warming. In plain terms, Pruitt doesn’t want the EPA to have the power to stop polluters from polluting. And, courtesy of our new President, he’s going to be in charge of the EPA in a few days.

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