McKibben: Hiroshima, Kyoto, and the Bombs of Climate Change

This article is by climate scientist Bill McKibben. It is scary stuff.

With climate change, it’s different. The explosion of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders every minute of every day just doesn’t induce the same tremble. True, Trump is alone among world leaders in dismissing global warming, but most of his peers might as well agree: they’ve done very little of what’s required even to begin addressing this issue. As a result, the explosions go off constantly. Scientists estimate that, each day, our added emissions trap the heat equivalent of four hundred thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs, which is why the Arctic has half as much ice as it did in the nineteen-eighties, why the great ocean currents have begun to slow, why we see floods and storms and fires in such sad proportion. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only atomic bombs we ever dropped; climate bombs rain down daily, and the death toll mounts unstoppably.

I can think of several explanations for this difference in attitude. The most important, probably, lies in the power of the fossil-fuel industry, which has spent billions of dollars defending the precise practices now wrecking the planet. The industry’s disinformation and lobbying campaigns—the details of which have slowly come to light, though the broad outlines have been clear for decades—have been spectacularly effective.

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