The Climate Fair for a Cool Planet is coming up on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 3-5 p.m. at the Whale in Overstreet Park.
You might wish the “Cool Planet” part was coming soon, in the nick of time to save us from the hottest days, weeks and, probably, months, in human history that we are now experiencing. That is, human history as in “since we emerged as a species.” We haven’t been here before.
The heat maps in newspapers and on TV show record heat in Phoenix, but also across wide swaths of North America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Simultaneously. And record heat in many ocean waters too.
Many of the fires in Canada are unfightable because of their size, heat and unpredictability. They have already burned five times as much as in an average Canadian fire season, an area the size of Virginia. Many of them will burn until winter snowfall puts them out many months from now.
These events are the setting for this year’s Climate Fair. We know the cause of the climate catastrophe gaining momentum around us: It is the burning of fossil fuels. So we know the direction we should head in: Stop the burning of fossil fuels.
The theme of this year’s Climate Fair is: No Fossil Fuel Expansion. We believe the scientific consensus that most fossil fuels already in production can’t be used if we are to keep runaway warming in check below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. We are currently at 1.2 degrees. We believe the recent scientific reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that reserves already in production or under development by 2021 are sufficient to meet our needs during the transition to renewable energy.
But if those are your beliefs and principles, (if you believe in science) Wham! you are suddenly up against Alaska petroleum politics.
For example, the Willow project, Conoco Phillips big new oil field project on the North Slope: It will produce 260 million tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide over its 30-year lifetime. Supported unanimously by the Alaska House and Senate and the Alaska congressional delegation, don’t be surprised when the Willow Project is considered a crime against the planet by our children and grandchildren.
Then there is the proposed Alaska LNG Project: a proposal, around for decades, deemed dead due to lack of interest by oil developers and customers, kept on life support by Alaska state subsidies, now resuscitated by possible federal subsidies, and sold by bogus claims that it will enhance American oil independence (though it won’t possibly come on line for 10 years), and sold also by bogus claims that methane is cleaner than other fossil fuels.
Come to the Whale to learn more about the climate crisis and what local groups are doing to address it.
• Michael Tobin is a board member of 350Juneau — Climate Action for Alaska.