“World leaders finally stood up to the fossil fuel industry in Paris, in 2015, and laid out a road map for real change. That’s what happened. Didn’t it?”
“…in the years to come, this issue will dwarf all the others combined. It will become the only issue.”
–Tim Flannery, “The Weather Makers,” referring to climate change.
We did manage to turn climate change around. The Paris Climate Summit in 2015 was the turning point. Here are some reasons why.
The year 2015 was projected to be the hottest year on record. We had serious drought in California. A staggering 8.8 million acres went up in flames in Western states. We had record flooding in the Carolinas, Texas, China, and many parts of the world. We had the deadliest heat wave on record in Pakistan. In 2013 Haiyan, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, devastated the Philippines.
For ten years I read over and over about new records set, greatest heat/flooding/winds “since records have been kept.” And we were only at slightly less than one degree of warming.
In 2015 millions of people fled Syria. A UN report said that we’d likely see “upward of 50 million climate refugees within the next decade.” How many billions of people were on the move when the Middle East became too hot for human habitation in 2100?
But that scenario didn’t happen, right?
I don’t know what it’s like for all of you in the future to live with two degrees of warming. Maybe you are now reading this in the future, reading about 2015 and saying…“tell me about it.” As in “you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Who was to blame for climate change? In 2015, we found out that Exxon’s scientists knew about climate change as far back as 1977. Then Exxon waged huge climate change denial campaigns. Both the auto and oil industry suppressed good ideas. Congress even held hearings on alternative cars and fuels throughout the 1980’s. And in spite of a huge electric car movement in the early 1990’s, nothing really changed.
There were 50 million cars on the planet emitting CO2 gases in 1950. In 2015 there were over a billion. It was a juggernaut. The US auto industry stayed married to the oil industry, or at least only introduced modest changes. And then we discovered that Exxon denied the existence of climate change, yet they knew.
World leaders finally stood up to the fossil fuel industry in Paris, in 2015, and laid out a road map for real change. That’s what happened. Didn’t it?