Almost exactly 25 years ago Al Gore, a Democrat Senator at the time, warned us of an ecological Kristallnacht in the New York Times. He didn’t use the term “denier” but he was talking up an unmistakable environmental holocaust. Since then CO2 levels have risen 50ppm, and the global population increased by two billion. Yet much of the article could be rerun today and who would know? He could just change the dates.
The 1990’s are the decade of decision. Profound changes are required.
In 1987, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere began to surge with record annual increases. Global temperatures are also climbing: 1987 was the second hottest year on record; 1988 was the hottest. Scientists now predict our current course will raise world temperatures five degrees Celsius in our lifetimes.
The holocaust was coming
Here’s the headline and opening paragraphs: March 19 1989
An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen.
“Humankind has suddenly entered into a brand new relationship with our planet. Unless we quickly and profoundly change the course of our civilization, we face an immediate and grave danger of destroying the worldwide ecological system that sustains life as we know it.”
It is time to confront this danger.
In 1939, as clouds of war gathered over Europe, many refused to recognize what was about to happen. No one could imagine a Holocaust, even after shattered glass had filled the streets on Kristallnacht. World leaders waffled and waited, hoping that Hitler was not what he seemed, that world war could be avoided. Later, when aerial photographs revealed death camps, many pretended not to see. Even now, many fail to acknowledge that our victory was not only over Nazism but also over dark forces deep within us.
In 1989, clouds of a different sort signal an environmental holocaust without precedent. Once again, world leaders waffle, hoping the danger will dissipate. Yet today the evidence is as clear as the sounds of glass shattering in Berlin.
The science was settled 25 years ago
This was “the evidence” according to Al Gore back then in six points. Carbon dioxide was important, but just one of the pack of troubles. (Possibly the potential “value” of carbon trading was unseen):
- The earth’s forests are being destroyed at the rate of one football field’s worth every second, one Tennessee’s worth every year. [We now know global plant life increased since then.- Jo]
- An enormous hole is opening in the ozone layer, reducing the earth’s ability to protect life from deadly ultraviolet radiation.
- Living species die at such an unprecedented rate that more than half may disappear within our lifetimes.
- Chemical wastes, in growing volumes, seep downward to poison ground water and upward to destroy the atmosphere’s delicate balance.
- Huge quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons dumped in the atmosphere have trapped heat and raised global temperatures.
- Every day, 37,000 children under the age of 5 die of starvation or preventable diseases made worse by failures of crops and politics.
Back then “the cause” was population growth, first and carbon dioxide, second. World population was 5.2 billion. Two more billion have been added since the Kristallnacht was predicted.
Al Gore published a wish list then that wanted “rapid reductions” in CO2 emissions. CO2 was 350ppm and it has increased to 400ppm. Despite that, in the years since, we’ve spent more years without significant warming than we spent with it.