Cutting Carbon -- New Article in The Christian Century
Here's a new article by Bill McKibben recently published in The Christian Century
In the last year or so, the data about climate change has grown steadily darker. The scale and the pace of global warming seem larger and faster than we realized even a few years ago. Perhaps the most powerful proof was the rapid melt of Arctic sea ice last summer. By the time the long Arctic night descended in October, the Northwest Passage had been wide open for weeks, and the old record for minimum sea ice had been broken by 25 percent, a result so off the charts that scientists were shaken.
While change was accelerating on the macro level, one could see the results on a micro level too. The small Aedes aegypti mosquito, carrying the much tinier germ for dengue fever, has spread rapidly across Asia and South America—a fact that even a conservative journal like the Economist blamed squarely on global warming. A few weeks ago, the Brazilian army was called out to open field hospitals across the center of the country because many emergency rooms were reporting 80 new cases of dengue fever an hour. Meanwhile, drought and heat waves were helping to trim grain harvests, adding to the food shortages created by our ill-considered efforts to turn America's corn crop into gasoline so we could maintain our lifestyle unaffected.
And here's the bottom line: in late winter the nation's foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, published a new paper. Hansen was the man who first blew the whistle on global warming, testifying 20 years ago that climate change was for real. Now he offered a number: 350, as in parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. We need to stabilize the level of carbon in the atmosphere below that number, he says, "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted."