Reining in the Juggernaut of Global Warming

By: Patty L. Buchanan

The month of October reminds me of the need to take action urgently and galvanize around climate education and advocacy.  It was two years ago — October 2018 — that global scientists published the world’s most comprehensive report explaining the need for rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society if we are to avoid catastrophic eco disasters (the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5° C).  In recognition of the second anniversary of this report, let’s take a few moments to consider where we are in our trajectory and what we must do next.

Global warming is happening.  We have already warmed 1.1° C.  As a Climate Reality Leader, I draw from Climate Reality Project materials and reputable news reports.  

In 2018, at least 224 locations around the world set all-time heat records.  19 of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2001; the hottest of all have been the last five years.

September 2020 was the hottest September that has ever been recorded, we are on course for the year 2020 to break yet another record for being the hottest year ever.  The hottest temperature ever recorded on earth occurred this year in California, it was 130° F.  This year the world experienced unprecedented wildfires burning more acres and for longer periods of time in Australia, Siberia, the Western region of the United States and in Colorado.

Concomitantly, the rate of burning fossil fuels, the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising global mean temperatures have made clear that if we do not cut our carbon emissions in half by 2030, the earth’s climate will not sustain current ecosystems, including human societies as they exist today.

And yet we as a human race haven’t yet bent the carbon emissions curve – we are still emitting more every year!

Chart by: Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, Climate Action Tracker via OurWorldinData.org

Here in Croton, we have been galvanized by the IPCC’s call to action to make rapid changes.  We held a community meeting just one year ago ­­— October 24, 2019 — to discuss a climate action plan for Croton, now known as the Croton100 master plan. Just a few months later, on February 29, 2020, we launched Croton100 with a community-wide educational and celebratory forum.

A few weeks after our launch, the world around us abruptly changed with lockdowns and cancellation of gatherings due to the Covid19 pandemic.  The silver lining is that the world-wide pandemic led to a reduction in extraction of fossil fuels. American oil production fell to 11.2 million barrels a day in September from 13 million at the beginning of the year, and it is expected that production will fall an additional 200,000 barrels a day by mid-2021.  Americans drove 12.3 percent fewer miles in August than they did in August 2019.  Globally, daily oil consumption was down more than 6 per cent in September from a year earlier.

We have made other, and more enduring, progress during the pandemic.  Croton100 tenaciously pursued its mission through these difficult times. Since its early days, with an all-volunteer group of people, it has provided more than a half dozen community presentations about the climate crisis, developed a groundbreaking Carbon Tracker that will serve to guide residents and other communities in reducing emissions and providing broad insights on our progress.

Croton100 neighbors influencing neighbors in carbon reduction step-downs. Croton100 Launch February 29, 2020

It has developed decarbonizing campaigns, carried on its education and advocacy — leading a campaign to decarbonize the School District’s transportation fleet — and recently led a community-wide campaign around National Drive Electric Week.  We have been providing education about the climate crisis and its solutions with a variety of voices through our weekly blog posts, our social media channels and writing letters to the editor of our local newspaper, the Gazette.  Numerous members of the community have shared with Croton100 and their neighbors the steps they have recently taken to reduce their emissions by decarbonizing their transportation and eliminating fossil fuel heating systems in their homes and other carbon step-down measures.

Croton students addressing the audience of the Croton100 Launch with their views on the importance to their lives of embracing carbon reductions.

And we are making rapid progress toward expanding our solution-based community framework with the formation of CURE100 (Communities United to Reduce Emissions 100%) .  Other communities are joining us, and some are considering ways to use some aspects of CURE100’s offerings. 

We have even received interest from a community in India to partner with CURE100.  We have developed a network of hundreds of supporters, many of whom have donated their time and money to promote the mission of Croton100 and CURE100.  So, wooohooo, we have answered the global scientists’ call to action by making a lot of progress right here in Croton in just one year.  We are grateful that so many people are embracing rapid, unprecedented changes.

But it is still not enough.  We need to do more.  We need your help to reach our goals over 20 years of sustained action.  What can you do?  Meet us, join us.

Reenergize yourself by reacquainting yourself with the IPCC imperative to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and 100% by 2040 and learn how you can do it. Founding Croton100 and CURE100 Board Member Dr. Chandu Visweswariah gave an inspiring presentation to the Audubon Society about these issues this past week, An Inside Look: Radical Climate Action.  It’s about an hour long presentation including Q&A, you can view it here. 

Measure your own carbon emissions using CURE100’s new version of the Carbon Tracker.

Make a plan for action to reduce carbon emissions in your own household.

Join Croton100 in its work to reduce carbon emissions in zip code 10520 by leading a Campaign.

Take our pledge.

If you live outside Croton, galvanize your community to join CURE100.

Donate to CURE100, your money will be used wisely for this cause.

Share this blog post and all our resources with friends and family near and far.

If you are not sure what action is the best fit for you, reach out to us at [email protected] to discuss how you can contribute to rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in our community.

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