It’s Global Warming—Believe It!

OK, America—it’s time for us all to wake up and save our planet!

We’re being assaulted by a process that is progressively stealing our precious quality of life here on Earth. And it’s happening right before our eyes.

It sometimes occurs with a ferocity that receives world-wide attention. But it’s usually more subtle—gradually tearing away at our planet’s fabric. Yet, while this whole thing is happening, we just sit around—anxiously watching but doing nothing to stop it, or even slow down it down!

What am I talking about? A deadly virus? Pervasive drug abuse? Creeping communism? The Trump White House?

No—considering the long-term health of our planet—this is far more serious than anything we’ve ever encountered before. In fact, if we allow this to continue basically unchecked—as is currently happening—it could eventually make Planet Earth uninhabitable for Homo sapiens. (Yep, folks—that’s us!)

I’ve been wracking my brain about how to solve this enigma since 2015. That’s the year I started writing my book, Protecting the Planet: Environmental Heroes from Conservation to Climate Change.

Now after three years of watching people—if they do anything at all—just paying minor homage to this vexing issue, I’ve had it!  I’m finally ready to tell it like it is.

From now on, I’m calling this world-wide cataclysm-in-waiting global warming—because that’s exactly what it is!  Every year, global warmingnot climate change—is making our world demonstratively less habitable for many life forms—most notably human beings.

The problem is that many people brush off climate change as “just a natural process that is always occurring”. OK, it’s true that—in its history (billions of years)—our Earth has experienced many dramatic climate events. But thousands of years (at least) have always intervened between each of our Earth’s previous extreme climatic periods—Ice Ages (extreme cold) and Green Ages (extreme hot).

The number of years during which our Earth has been currently warming is a vastly smaller time period. In fact, humans first started earnestly pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into our Earth’s atmosphere in the mid to late 18th Century—coincident with the onset of the First Industrial Revolution.  Since then, we’ve been rampantly dumping more and more molecules of CO2 into our air. The result is that—over the past 250+ years—our only planetary home has been warming much faster than it ever has before.

In fact, CO2 emissions have been increasing with exponential rapidity since the turn of the millennium. Don’t believe it? Then consider this fact. Nine out of ten of our planet’s hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. (The year 1998 was the tenth.)

Many scientists believe our planet is warming hundreds of times faster than it ever has before. As award-winning author—Kim Stanley Robinson—writes in the January/February 2019 issue of Sierra Magazine: “The changes are occurring so rapidly that they have forced scientists to come up with a new name for this unprecedented epoch—the Anthropocene, the ‘human age’”. Now that’s just plain scary!

So why should we worry right now? Let’s review the ways.

By 2050—in human years, that’s just half a generation—here’s what could happen to our Earth. Our primary ice sheets—in Greenland and Antarctica would mostly melt away. Also, the majority of the world’s glaciers would be gone forever. (How can we have a Glacier National Park if we have no glaciers?)

The sea level rise resulting from these world-wide melting events would inundate much of the world’s coastlines—including large portions of such major U.S. cities as New York, Boston, Miami, Norfolk-Virginia Beach, and Charleston (SC). This unprecedented flooding would force the relocation of tens of millions of people—many in countries where there are no places to relocate.

Next, the persistent warming and acidification of our oceans would wipe out all of our magnificent coral reefs. The marine biodiversity of our saltwater systems would also plummet—meaning the extinction of many species that are vital to the health of our ocean ecosystems as well as our planet.

Finally, devastating natural events—hurricanes, tornadoes, torrential rains, prolonged droughts, immense wildfires—would all continue to increase in number and intensity. These could result in death and destruction at a scale that the world has never before imagined.

Natural disasters will force people to take extreme measures to maintain a modicum of their family lifestyles. We’ve already seen this happen in countries like Syria where a drought was so widespread and overwhelming that the people had no choice but to revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Of course, the horrible atrocities—including the use of deadly nerve gas against Syrian families—are still continuing in 2019.

Here’s how Kim Stanley Robinson describes what is happening to our planet: “If we continue to burn ancient carbon, strip-mine the soil, and raze forests, we could be headed for the sixth great mass extinction event in Earth’s history.  (Blogger’s insert: Remember, the fifth great extinction—65 million years ago—wiped out the dinosaurs.) If we ignore the consequences of manmade changes, then famine, war, and pandemics could result from wrecking the Earth’s life-support systems. It can’t be emphasized enough just how awful a bad Anthropocene could be.”

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that global warming is real and it’s happening at a rate so alarming that we absolutely cannot continue to ignore it. So now, let’s talk about how we can solve it.

The easiest and most effective solution is this: Implore our Congress to do the right thing for our Earth and enact a tough carbon fee. Formally promulgating a stiff and binding carbon fee—one that immediately socks it to the pocketbooks of fossil fuel executives—will be the first cog in the gears that will drive our total conversion to clean, renewable energy.

A nationwide, high-end carbon fee will whack anyone or anything that is still either finding, producing, or distributing fossil fuels. This means that the cost of doing business for Corporate America—most notably Big Oil—will quickly and significantly increase. Soon, the continued production and distribution of fossil fuels will become unprofitable.

Once enough money is lost, the fossil fuel giants will lead the charge in switching our country to clean, renewable energy. As wealthy and experienced business owners, these folks are not going to just sit idly by and watch as their capitalistic coffers dwindle away. No—they’re going to jump on the renewables bandwagon and they will sit as close to the front as they can!

The real beauty of this is: We already have most of the tools in place needed to accomplish this transformational switch in energy supplies. It all starts with our Earth’s bounteous and never-ending sources of solar and wind power. Next, most of the production facilities and transmission grids we need to service our whole country—as well as a host of the world’s other countries—are already in place.

Need proof that this is the case? Just go to The Solutions Project ( and you can see it all for yourself.

So, how can we all take part in this process? It’s really quite simple. Sit down tomorrow and write letters or e-mails—as you prefer—to all of your state and federal legislators. Tell them that it’s imperative to immediately enact a stringent carbon fee—one that has sharp teeth and will take huge bites out of the backsides and bankrolls of our country’s fossil fuel executives.

I guarantee this will get the renewable energy ball rolling—big time. And the rest will follow suit swiftly and forcefully. In fact, I firmly believe that—if we set our collective minds to it—our complete and total transformation to clean, renewable energy can happen within the next five years.

As Kim Stanley Robinson concludes in his Sierra piece: “There is, just barely, time remaining to initiate a good Anthropocene. It is still physically possible to create an octopia—the ‘optimal place’—on Earth. … Hope resides in this underappreciated fact of human nature: People are often at their best in the midst of crisis and emergency.”

So, what the heck are we waiting for? The recently introduced Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 is a start. But it’s not nearly tough (read expensive) enough.

Let’s go for it all and pass a carbon fee that hits Big Oil really hard—and right away. For far too long, the fossil fuel executives have gotten exactly what they want, when they want it. It’s high time for us to wrest our world back from their vice grips!

What have we got to lose? Oh yeah, just our place on the Planet Earth—that’s all!

A professional wildlife biologist/wetland scientist (emeritus) as well as an award-winning writer and nature photographer, Budd Titlow is the author of four natural history books, including his latest—Protecting the Planet: Environmental Heroes from Conservation to Climate Change.

Author: Budd Titlow

BS, Biology-Chemistry, Florida State University, 1970 MS, Wildlife Ecology-Fisheries Science, Virginia Tech, 1973 / / For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place within nature’s beauty, before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. Protecting the Planet, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental champions among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — Coming Full Circle — provides the answers we all seek and need. Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

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