Last month marked the anniversary of the day a President of the United States first warned Congress of the with the words: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels”.
No it wasn't Bill Clinton, it certainly was not President Obama; it was in fact Lyndon B. Johnson, and last month marks the 50th anniversary of the day the US Congress was warned about the environmental dangers of atmospheric pollution, which followed advice from pioneering climate scientist, Roger Revelle, who warned of global warming and sea-level rise.
A year later Revelle chaired a subcommittee of the President's Science Advisory Committee, which produced a report claiming that: “Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment”, estimating that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would rise by between 14 and 30 percent by the year 2000. In fact CO2 levels rose by 15.5%.
It would be great to think that the US took note of that warning, and those of climate scientists of the day, but it did not. In fact there has been 50 years of virtual inaction on Climate Change in the US, despite its being one of the countries worst hit by it.
The current President has tried to act, but has been thwarted by his right-wing opponents, and he too has issued an emphatic warning pointing out that: “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do anything about it”.
The Australian situation is even worse, with a Prime Minister who is on the record as claiming climate change science is “crap”, and has done everything in his power to close down government climate change initiatives. As a result, growth in the renewable energy sector has stalled, and vast coal mines, and coal seam gas projects are being brought on line by like-minded conservative State governments across the country.
Remember, we are the last generation that can do anything about climate change. We owe it to future generations to act decisively NOW.
- John Edwards