Excerpts from The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming, David Wallace-Wells

“In fact, more than half of the carbon exhaled into the atmosphere  by the burning of fossil fuels has been emitted in just the past three decades.  Which means we have done as much damage to the fate of the planet and its ability to sustain human life and civilization since Al Gore published his first book on climate than in all the centuries—all the millennia—that came before. … this means we have now engineered as much ruin knowingly as we ever managed in ignorance. (4) emphasis mine

What the fuck is wrong with us?

“… two degrees Celsius of global warming was considered the threshold of catastrophe: flooded cities, crippling droughts and heat waves … There is almost no chance we will avoid that scenario.  The Kyoto Protocol achieved, practically, nothing; in the twenty years since, despite all of our climate advocacy and legislation and progress on green energy, we have produced more emissions than in the twenty years before.  (9) emphasis mine

What the fuck is wrong with us?

“Since 1980, the planet has experienced a fiftyfold increase in the number of dangerous heat waves … ”  (40)

“… most estimates put the number of undernourished at 800 million globally.” (56)

All because men cannot keep their penises out of women’s vaginas.

“Much of the infrastructure of the internet, one study showed, could be drowned by sea-level rise in less than two decades … “(61)

[During the California fires of 2017] “On local golf courses, the West Coast’s wealthy still showed up for their tee times, swinging their clubs just yards from blazing fires in photographs that could not have been more perfectly staged to skewer the country’s indifferent plutocracy.” (73)

” … the effect of wildfires on emissions is among the most feared climate feedback loops—that the world’s forests, which have typically been carbon sinks, would become carbon sources, unleashing all that stored gas. … In California, a single wildfire can entirely eliminate the emissions gains made that year by all of the state’s aggressive environmental policies. … At present, the trees of the Amazon take in a quarter of all the carbon absorbed by the planet’s forests each year.  But in 2018, Jair Bolsonaro was elicted president of Brazil promising to open the rain forest to development—which is to say, deforestation.  How much damage can one person do to the planet?  (76) emphasis mine

“Every round-trip plane ticket from New York to London … costs the Arctic three more square meters of ice.” (120)

So why aren’t such trips illegal?  Why didn’t Trudeau approve the construction of a water pipeline from the melting glaciers in the north instead of an oil pipeline?  (We’re going to have droughts worldwide, affecting agriculture, worldwide, and we’re just letting all that fresh water go to waste, do damage, in fact, by warming the oceans …)

What the fuck is wrong with us?

“It took New York City forty-five years to build three new stops on a single subway line; the threat of catastrophic climate change means we need to entirely rebuild the world’s infrastructure in considerably less time.”  (169)

“According to the IPCC, we have just twelve years to cut them [carbon emissions] in half.  The longer we wait, the harder it will be.  If we had started global decarbonization in 2000,  …  we would have had to cut emissions by only about 3 percent per year to stay safely under two degrees of warming.  If we start today [2019], when global emissions are still growing, the necessary rate is 10 percent.  If we delay another decade, it will require us to cut emissions by 30 percent each year.” (179-180)

“In 2003, Ken Caldeira, now of the Carnegie Institution for Science, found that the world would need to add clean power sources equivalent to the full capacity of a nuclear plant every single day between 2000 and 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.” (181)

“If the world’s most conspicuous emitters, the top 10 percent [the U.S. accounts for 15%; China, for 28% — https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions], reduced their emissions to only the E.U. average, total global emissions would fall by 35 percent.” (187)

In other words, it would have been no hardship.  To save the planet.  To save ourselves.

 

 

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