Katherine Scourtes: The UN turns 75, and it’s time to rejoin the Paris Agreement
This year, on Oct. 24, the United Nations celebrates the anniversary of 75 years from the signing of the U.N. Charter in San Francisco. Our organization, the Golden Empire Chapter of the United Nations Association here in Nevada County, has adopted climate change as the most important issue of our times based on overwhelming scientific evidence, in support of the U.N. and the Paris Agreement. Under the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, this agreement was negotiated and signed in 2016 by 196 nations, including the U.S., and it sets climate warming reduction goals for the next 30 years.
The United Nations has been warning the world about the perils of climate change for years now, but the fossil fuels industry has been trying to make us believe otherwise. They are not only ignoring the projected huge damage to the American economy but they are literally sacrificing peoples’ lives and our children’s future, in the altar of short-term profits.
In the most recent United Nations sponsored report “United in Science 2020” the World Meteorological Organization says 2016–2020 is expected to be the warmest five-year period on record (https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/united_in_science).
“Major impacts have been caused by extreme weather and climate events.” And that “a clear fingerprint of human-induced climate change has been identified on many of these extreme events.”
Scientists have come to the conclusion that to avoid ever more catastrophic climate events like the recent extreme fires, floods and hurricanes, the global average climate temperature increase needs to stay below 1.5° Celsius (34.7° Fahrenheit). Scientists have also clarified that climate is not the weather. Climate is long term. The weather is today.
To achieve the goal of limiting global warming, we must reduce global carbon emissions. There are many steps that will get us there but most importantly big industries must reduce their use of coal, oil and gas and start using more clean fuels like solar, wind, etc. These are not opinions. Scientists all around the world have come to these conclusions after years of experiments and research.
So, do we really want to bury our heads in the sand and ignore what science is telling us? Science has given us cars and reading glasses and smart phones and computers and medicine but when it gives us facts about global warming, we reject them. Have we asked ourselves why and how we have come to that conclusion even when the signs are all around us?
New technologies and the greening of our economy are good for business and good for our health and our future. What we do here in the U.S. affects not only us but also the rest of the world. For example, California’s recent smoke clouds reached even Europe, so we should work together with other nations, and the U.N., to stop the terrible effects of climate change. The U.S. needs to rejoin the Paris Agreement and lead the world to a better and viable future.
As the recent report to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission warns in Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System, “Climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy.” And that “ … international engagement by the United States could be significantly more robust.”
Back when the U.N. was formed in 1945, the hope was that it would prevent another world war, which it has, by bringing adversaries to the table to negotiate for peace. But today we are facing a war like none we’ve seen before. It’s a war against the warming of our earth which we’ve never fought before but which will determine our survival and that of our children. We must all unite and win this war. After all, there is no planet B.
On Oct. 24, UN75 day, we should remember the words of Dag Hammarskjöld, the second U.N. Secretary General. He said, “The U.N. was not created to take humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell.” Global warming is leading us to hell on earth, and it is up to us to stop it. The United Nations is spearheading this effort, and the Paris Agreement is a way to get there. Please support the U.N. and ask our elected leaders to rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Katherine Scourtes is president of the UNA-USA Golden Empire Chapter. She lives in Grass Valley.Katherine Scourtes is president of the UNA-USA Golden Empire Chapter. She lives in Grass Valley.
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