After four years where the official U.S. position was to deny the reality of climate change, meaning that reports were quashed, data hidden, pacts discarded and in general the White House scoffed that 99 percent of scientists were stodges, we are vulnerable. It’s as if a giant alien threat were coming at us and bureaucrats were pooh-poohing the whole thing.
Kerry, former senator, former presidential candidate, former secretary of State and negotiator of the Paris Climate Accord, is the new special envoy for climate. He has the stature to be our country’s international face of the battle against climate change. He will have a seat on the National Security Council and will report directly to the president. Kerry said that this indicates the Biden administration understands that climate change is a serious threat to national security.
Gina McCarthy, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will be heading Biden’s huge domestic campaign to deal with climate change.
Also, Biden has chosen former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to be energy secretary; that is an invaluable choice because energy is at the center of combatting climate change.
And Biden tapped a strong rival for the presidency, Pete Buttigieg, for the post of transportation secretary.
This is a formidable climate change team. These are the changes that this team must combat. We will know if a few years if they are up to the job.
Alaska is warming so fast that in 30 years, how humans interact with Alaska’s environment, the scope of species and the landscape will be unrecognizable. Indigenous communities are already struggling with damaged infrastructure because of melting permafrost. Temperatures are the second-highest they have been in more than a century of record-keeping.
Yes, climate change is a natural phenomenon caused by multiple factors over centuries. The problem for this generation is that years of humans burning fossil fuels have sped up change too fast. We now have more intense storms, heat waves, drought and warming oceans. Sea levels are rising, which will wipe out coastal cities. Glaciers are melting and warming seas will harm people’s livelihoods. Whole species will cease to exist.
In addition to the outgoing administration leaving the climate change agreement and abandoning the recognition that the burning of fossil fuels is destroying the atmosphere, greenhouse gas emissions were left uncontrolled and over the last four years climate change was dropped as a major concern.
But the good news is that the rest of the world was already worried by the science and didn’t completely pull back from climate change concerns even as the White House urged them to do.
So in this season of tiny little shards of hope sparkling on the horizon, there should be new confidence that the Biden White House understands that climate change is a monumental threat and one that we must deal with appropriately for the sake of our children and grandchildren and the future of the planet. That is no longer hyperbole.
The new U.S. goal is to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. According to a new Princeton University study, this will mean a huge new investment in energy infrastructure. It will be difficult but it is doable and financially feasible given sufficient political will and America’s can-do resolve.
For the first time in four years, there is realistic hope we won’t destroy Earth.