Opinion

Global warming: ‘The canary in the coal mine has keeled over’

Author: Garrett Garner-Wells - November 13, 2017 - Updated: November 13, 2017

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Garrett Garner-Wells

Miners used to carry canaries in cages to alert them when dangerous gases had built up, warning them to exit the tunnels immediately.

A new U.S. Government report report makes it clear that the canary in the coal mine has keeled over. It’s past time for us to heed the warning and act to eliminate pollution from dangerous fuels like coal, oil, and gas.

The Trump administration’s report confirms what Coloradans have known for years: human activities and carbon pollution are the dominant causes of global warming. In fact, the report goes so far as to say that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changes we are seeing, including hotter summers, shorter winters, and a more intense wildfire season.

Our nation’s best scientists are loudly ringing the alarm bell in this report. Global warming is real. We are the cause. The impacts are serious. We only have a short time to act.

Thankfully, the playbook for avoiding the worst climate threats is in our hands.

The Trump administration’s report notes that “the magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally.” We should act swiftly to stop burning virtually all fossil fuels and transition to clean, renewable energy by no later than 2050. The faster we move, the better.

In the near term, the Trump administration should heed the recommendations of its own report and abandon efforts to weaken important programs that reduce pollution, including the Clean Power Plan and Clean Cars Standards. Here in Colorado, these two programs work in tandem to cut carbon pollution from the electricity generation and transportation sectors, our two largest producers of global warming emissions.

Our nation’s best scientists are loudly ringing the alarm bell in this report. Global warming is real. We are the cause. The impacts are serious. We only have a short time to act.

Rather than attacking successful policies here at home, the Trump administration and its allies should work with the rest of the world to preserve conditions on our planet in which our civilization can continue to thrive. Unfortunately, with the news that Syria will join the Paris Climate Accords breaking this week, our nation finds itself on the sidelines when it comes to tackling a challenge for which we are most responsible.

This is an unconscionable failure of leadership.

If the federal government continues to embrace denial and delay, it’s up to us to push forward. Governor Hickenlooper, local governments, college campuses, and Colorado businesses can and should continue to take the lead in tackling the climate crisis detailed in the Trump administration’s report.

Together, we can build on our collective success and do more to advance clean energy, cut global warming pollution, and secure a safe future for our children.

We must build on the progress we’ve made and do more to cut pollution from power plants, our transportation system, our buildings, and our industry. The time to act is now.

Garrett Garner-Wells

Garrett Garner-Wells

Garrett Garner-Wells is director of Environment Colorado, a statewide, citizen-based organization dedicated to clean air, clean water and open spaces.


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