Around the world people are beginning to feel the heat of global warming,
entire nations to tiny communities are suffering the effects of climate
Earlier this year deadly wildfires raged across a drought stricken
Australia where the continent continues to suffer through one of the worst
droughts in its history. In South America, the accelerated melting of
Andean glaciers is threatening water supplies in Bolivia, Colombia,
Ecuador and Peru. In Tanzania 85% of Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers have
already melted, severely affecting the availability of water in this
African nation. A recent study by the National Center for Atmospheric
Research (based in Colorado, USA) has found that global warming has had a
much more significant and damaging impact on the world's rivers than
previously realized. The discovery now underscores a growing threat to
food and water supplies for millions of people living in some of the
world's poorest regions. Meanwhile an Oxfam report has warned that by 2015
the number of people affected by climate related crises will raise by 54%
to 375 million people.
The impact of global warming will not just be felt by the poorer nations
who are less able to respond to the crisis. In March some of the world's
top climate scientists warned the U.S. Congress that severe drought in
the western portion of the United States could make tracts of land from
California to Oklahoma a waste land, with heat waves in northern cities
that could make life impossible.
Recent studies in the Arctic have shown that the melting of Arctic ice is
happening faster than any climate models predicted. The rapid melt is
threatening to leave the Arctic ice free as early as 2013.
The looming crisis is threatening to create millions of climate refugees.
As people flee drought plagued regions in search of water, others retreat
from coastal regions in order to escape rising flood waters.
The impending catastrophe demands immediate action on the part of both
industrial and developing countries. However, we need more than just
political action, the world needs action from the carbon emitting
Yet, despite the ever growing wealth of scientific evidence that the
planet is warming at a disastrous rate due to human activity, industry
continues to resist caps on CO2 emissions. This resistance by the most
powerful multinationals is making strict government action and regulation
on climate change difficult. Particularly for leaders who fear losing
corporate support and money.
The state of California, however, is demonstrating that combating climate
change is not only necessary but can be good for the economy. If
California were to be ranked as a nation it would be the 7th largest
economy in the world. The state, under Governor Schwarzenegger, has signed
laws making it mandatory to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions to
1990 levels by 2020, and to 85% of 1990 levels by 2050. More over, these
cuts are expected to create an estimated one million jobs.
While most of the world's governments struggle with what, if any, demands
to make toward forcing immediate and strict reductions in carbon
emissions, the world's poor continue to suffer the effects of a warming
world. Even the wealthiest nations are unable to avoid the heat, and many
industrial countries are beginning to suffer its effects.
In early May scientists at Oxford University concluded a study that
revealed the world has already burned half of the carbon necessary to
bring about a catastrophic rise of 2 degrees celsius (3.6 F) in average
global temperature. At this temperature nearly half of the world's plants
and animals will be threatened by extinction. The scientists say that half
a trillion tonnes of carbon have been consumed since the Industrial
Revolution. In order to avoid a 2 degree celsius rise in temperature, the
total amount of carbon burned must be kept below one trillion tonnes. At
current rates of consumption that figure will be reached in forty years.
Myles Allen, the climate scientist who led the study, had this to say
about the threat of climate change. "Mother Nature doesn't care about
dates. To avoid dangerous climate change we will have to limit the total
amount of carbon we inject into the atmosphere, not just the emission rate
in any given year."
The world needs to begin the shift toward a non-carbon based economy.
Scientists in every nation have reached the same conclusion and are
warning that we must take action now to reduce CO2 emissions and invest in
clean energy if we are to prevent a nearing global environmental crisis.
In nations around the globe the public have demanded action on climate
change. Yet, all too often their voices go unheard. There is a growing
campaign to change that; reaching across borders and beyond political
lines and affiliations in an effort to bring those who will be most
affected by climate change together in one powerful voice.
In every nation the working class is the beating heart. It is the workers
who keep society running smoothly. But, it is the working class and the
working poor who will be hit the hardest by a warmer world. Which means we
must harness the power at our finger tips and demand immediate action to
be taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We need climate justice today,
not tomorrow. We need deeds and not promises.
On December 11th in response to the international climate talks in
Copenhagen, Denmark, we ask that everyone concerned with global warming
and climate change to join us in an International General Strike demanding
Climate Action. Our work stoppage can have a global impact. Together, in a
show of solidarity and unity, we can demonstrate to world leaders that the
global consensus is for action to stop climate change. They can not ignore
our voices when we strike.
For one day we will shut the system down and demand that our governments
work together to act in our best interests. On December 11th Strike for
Climate Justice, Demand Action!
by Jeffrey Luers, May 20, 2009