Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Rolling Stone thinks making the world more habitable for humans will kill us off.
Now Is Our Last Best Chance to Confront the Climate Crisis
With Joe Biden in office, a serious plan to combat climate change is finally in our sights — but the clock is ticking, and there is no more room for error
By Jeff Goodell
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
The Earth’s climate has always been a work in progress. In the 4.5 billion years the planet has been spinning around the sun, ice ages have come and gone, interrupted by epochs of intense heat. The highest mountain range in Texas was once an underwater reef. Camels wandered in evergreen forests in the Arctic. Then a few million years later, 400 feet of ice formed over what is now New York City. But amid this geologic mayhem, humans have gotten lucky. For the past 10,000 years, virtually the entire stretch of human civilization, people have lived in what scientists call “a Goldilocks climate” — not too hot, not too cold, just right.
Now, our luck is running out. The industrialized nations of the world are dumping 34 billion tons or so of carbon into the atmosphere every year, which is roughly 10 times faster than Mother Nature ever did on her own, even during past mass extinction events. As a result, global temperatures have risen 1.2 C since we began burning coal, and the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. The Earth’s temperature is rising faster today than at any time since the end of the last ice age, 11,300 years ago. We are pushing ourselves out of a Goldilocks climate and into something entirely different — quite literally, a different world than humans have ever lived in before.
By all indications, President Biden and his team understand all this. And it’s hard not to feel that after 30 years of dithering and denial and hypocrisy, the fight to save the climate has finally begun in earnest. In the 2020 election, nearly 70 percent of Biden’s voters said climate change was a top issue for them. Biden has staffed his administration with the climate A-team, from Gina McCarthy as domestic climate czar to John Kerry as international climate envoy. He has made racial and environmental justice a top priority. And perhaps most important of all, he sees the climate crisis as an opportunity to reinvent the U.S. economy and create millions of new jobs.
For more than 30 years now, scientists and politicians have been aware that our hellbent consumption of fossil fuels could push us out of the Goldilocks zone and force humans to live in a world we have never inhabited before. As Biden’s push for climate action gets real, we will learn a lot about how serious human beings are about living on this planet, and how far the powerful and privileged are willing to go to reduce the suffering of the poor and vulnerable. If political leaders don’t take the climate crisis seriously now, with all they know, with all they have been through already, will they ever? “Climate advocates keep saying, ‘This is it, this is it, this is it,’ ” warns Podesta. “But this really is it. If we don’t amp up and accelerate the energy transformation in this decade, we’re goners — really goners.”Read more: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/climate-crisis-2050-goals-biden-administration-1154528/
Why do I claim global warming, if it happens, is making the world more habitable for humans?
Very simple. Try stripping down to your jocks, or a swimsuit if you prefer, and try walking around outside.
On a warm day in Summer you might get away with it. Not so much in winter.
The lower limit of survivability is difficult to pin down, and there are remarkable stories of tribes whose ancestors survived extreme climates without clothes, but most people start to feel cold if they are not wearing clothes, if temperatures drop for a sustained period below 80F / 26C. Even in the near tropical region where I live, winter would be unpleasant without warm clothes.
Our ancestors evolved in the extreme tropics, where the temperature almost never drops below 80F. Our “Goldilocks zone” is a place near the equator, where nobody has to wear clothes to stay warm.
We inhabit vast areas of the planet which are far too cold for us, because our ancestors used their intelligence to figure out how to shield themselves from cold their unprotected bodies would struggle to survive. But somewhere along the way, some of us seem to have forgotten why we needed clothes in the first place.
The idea that a warmer climate would be a problem for humans is absurd. We are one of the most warm weather adapted animals on the planet.