Happy New Year - Climate Change for 2018

Richard Zurawski

Another year has passed and another opportunity has slipped away. Another 3 ppm CO2 has permanently found its way into the atmosphere boosting the current levels as of December 15, 2017, as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory, to 407.72 ppm, up from 404.91 ppm on Dec 15, 2016. The highest level ever recorded was 412.63 ppm on Arpil 26, 2017 (NOAA-ESRL). Each year the levels climb to new records, and the goal of getting back to 350 ppm slips that much further away

The vast experiment on our ecosystem continues. Not in more than 600,000 years have CO2 levels been this high. And back then the ocean levels were at least 6 metres higher than they are now. It tells us that the ocean levels have not caught up with us yet. But they will. The Arctic ice volume continues to be at historic lows. And the mountain glaciers continue to disappear. Antarctica? WAIS ice calving continues to produce Manhattan-sized bergs and the Eastern sheet appear to be destabilizing as well.

All this, and there is methane as well. Methane is a gas that is 50 times more effective in trapping heat than CO2. Its effects have also not caught up with us yet. It is being released as the Arctic permafrost melts and seeps into the atmosphere from oil wells, natural gas drilling, land fill sites, coal mining, and all the usual suspects.

While the media focus on the early winter record cold temperatures because of a stronger than anticipated La Nina event in the Pacific, we have taken our collective eyes off the climate change ball. As the late night comedian, Stephen Colbert so effectively put it. “Its cold outside so there is no global warming is like saying I had a meal today, so there is no world hunger”. It's hard to think about global warming in the middle of deep freeze event. But global warming continues at a horrific pace.

2018 is a make or break year. Either we get serious, make some meaningful, substantial changes to our rich consumption-based, Western lifestyles, or we move another step off the climate change cliff. Now or never. It is gloomy news, but we can make this a Happy New Year. How? We are the richest, most privileged people in the world. We have the capacity, the resources, the innovation to put an end to fossil fuel fuels. Let’s all commit to learn, lead and re-green. Let’s make 2018 the year we turn it all around!

Richard Zurawski
Climate Change Critic
Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet