COP21, the "council of parties" that included some 194 nations, has concluded in Paris and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly over the coming decades, with most countries, including the U.S., submitting plans to accomplish this. We are the highest per-capita GHG emitter and second, behind China, in total national emissions. Unfortunately, the cumulative promised reductions, if they all happen, would only take us about halfway to where we need to be to stabilize warming at a target of 2 degrees Centigrade, to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change. And some scientists warn us even that that may be too much.
In the meantime the public's scientific ignorance on the subject may be abating somewhat with polls showing that some 70 percent-plus of the U.S. population now accepts human-caused (by fossil fuel burning) global warming as a fact, but unfortunately still does not rate the issue high upon the list of immediate concerns, probably because the worst impacts are possibly a century or more away. Others, like Jim Andrews in the DCI last week, still mix a breathtaking misunderstanding of science, denial of basic physics, political ideology, and conspiracy theories to ignore the problem altogether. Some think that we can sit back and wait for either technology, nature, or God to save us from our own folly.
Many who accept what the science, as compiled and analyzed in the periodic IPCC reports, tells us, shrug and either see the battle as ultimately lost or too large for the individual to do anything about. But as 2016 begins, I would suggest that the one thing you can do that will really matter is to support and vote for political candidates, be they local, state or national that possess a basic understanding of climate science and the will to act positively, since dealing with this huge issue will involve all of us working together including coordination of government on all levels. This has already begun on the international level with the IPCC and COP meetings, but it also needs to be working from the bottom up, including with you and your family and the towns in Delta County. Even your ditch company and social organization.
Depending upon your point of view, human-caused global warming/climate change is either the greatest challenge the world has ever faced and/or the greatest opportunity to come together, embrace and support one another and glorify God, however we define the word. Consider -- while Jesus made it clear that we are not to "tempt" (test) God by demanding that he catch us when we willfully leap from a high place, God tests us all the time by allowing us free will, including the free will to dig up and burn fossil fuels. Now we have been shown the long-term consequences of this action we are tasked to act in a moral manner to set things right. Will we fail the test?