Mollie Freebairn, Energy & Environmental Scientist,
Show Me Solar Director
The warming world is a wetter one. For every 1° F increase in temperatures, the atmosphere holds about 4 percent more water vapor. That means heavier and more frequent rain in many places. Already, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., accounting for nearly three-quarters of presidential disaster declarations over the last decade.
In Davenport, Iowa, a city of 103,000, more than 50 days of flooding has prompted Mayor Frank Klipsch to say, “Between hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts, literally all within a year, something’s changing.”
In contrast, over a decade since Missouri voters passed Renewable Energy Standards (RES) by an overwhelming two-thirds majority in 2008, solar is still less than 1 percent of Missouri’s electricity generation. Wind energy has risen to only about 5 percent, despite abundant low cost wind energy in the Great Plains states and northern Missouri. This is due to the Missouri Legislature and Public Service Commission blocking the development of clean, low cost, renewable energy resources, along with the thousands of jobs and economic benefits created in many states.
As a major contributor to the world’s swiftly rising CO2 levels, Missouri needs to take decisive steps to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, before atmospheric concentrations blast past 450 PPM CO2eq – and any possibility of leaving our children a livable world.
The scorching droughts and fires raging across the West, Alaska, Arctic, Amazon, and around the world will happen here, if we fail to act in time.
Which as scientists urgently warn, we have 12 years at most to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half, to have no more than a 50 percent chance of leaving future generations an uninhabitable earth.
Faster emission reductions are better, and achievable with the Green New Deal and Sanders’ Green New Deal Plan, creating millions of jobs, economic prosperity for all, and restoring the environment in the process.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney, one of the paper's authors, in a statement. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”
The scientists warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change.
“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have generally conducted business as usual and are essentially failing to address this crisis,” said William Ripple, a professor of ecology at Oregon State University and co-lead author of the paper. “Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”
This is the first time a group of scientists have come together to use the word "emergency" in regards to climate change.
The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends:
Replace fossil fuels with clean energy.
Reduce short-lived climate pollutants like methane.
Reduce land clearing and restore Earth’s ecosystem.
Shift diets away from meat and reduce food waste.
Focus on human health and well-being rather than GDP.
Slow down and stabilize human population growth.
The authors said it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take corrective action. Since 1992, when more than 1,700 scientists signed a “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, global trends have worsened.
“Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity, and area burned in the United States are all rising,” Ripple said. “Globally, ice is rapidly disappearing as demonstrated by decreases in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness. All of these rapid changes highlight the urgent need for action.”
The paper concludes by saying, "we believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home."