Why did Prof. Noam Chomsky call the U.S. Republican Party “The most dangerous organization in the history of the world”? He did so because the party is characterized by climate change denial and by support for giant fossil fuel corporations. According to the 2018 IPCC Report, the world has only a very short time left in which to stop the extraction and use of fossil fuels. If we collectively fail to do this within a decade or so, feedback loops may be initiated which will make human efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change useless. Much of the world could become uninhabitable, and a very large-scale mass extinction could be initiated. Although the worst effects of global warming lie in the long-term future, children alive today are at risk. We give our children loving care, but it makes no sense to do so unless we also do everything in our power to ensure that they, and all future generations, will inherit a world in which they can survive.
The world is on fire
Although the worst threats from catastrophic climate change lie in the long-term future, we are starting to see the effects of climate change today. California is burning! As of August 28, 2020, 7175 fires have burned 1,660,332 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Arctic is burning! A northeastern Siberian town, North of the Arctic Circle, is likely to have set a record for the highest temperature documented in the Arctic Circle, with a reading of 100.4 degrees (38 Celsius) recorded in June 2020. The dangerous greenhouse gas methane is bubbling up from melting permafrost in the Arctic and from the shallow seas North of Siberia. Furthermore, wildfires in the Arctic are emitting an unprecedented amount of CO2. Around 600 active fires have been observed in the region in late July 2020, compared with 400 in 2019 and about 100 on average between 2003-2018.
The 2020 hurricane season has started early, notably with Laura, and it is predicted to be unusually severe. Greenland's ice sheet is melting. Ice shelves are collapsing in the Antarctic. But despite these obvious signs of danger, the climate emergency is hardly mentioned in the 2020 political campaigns, or in U.S. mass media. It ought to be a central issue. As Bernie Sanders recently remarked: “When politicians say that climate change is not real, it's not just that they're lying. It's not just that they're rejecting science. They're turning their backs on the people of Louisiana, who are experiencing the effects of climate change today.”
We see what is near to us. It is the present threats of climate change that seem to concern us. However, we have a responsibility to all future generations of humans. We have a responsibility to all other living things on earth, which are threatened with extinction if catastrophic climate change becomes a reality. As an example of what is threatened, we can think of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, caused by the emission of greenhouse gasses, in which 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct.
The 2020 election is critical
The U.S. election in November is critical, not just because of Donald Trump's neo-fascism, but primarily because if the climate-change-denying and fossil-fuel supporting Republican Party retains power, all hope of saving the world from life-destroying global warming may be lost. Those of us who have the ability to influence the election, or to vote, must work with dedication for a Democratic victory.