Theater Alaska performers Bostin Christopher, left, and Erin Tripp perform a short play in front of an audience at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Theater Alaska partnered with environmental group 350Juneau to put on a Climate Fair for a Cool Planet, which drew over 100 people. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Theater Alaska performers Bostin Christopher, left, and Erin Tripp perform a short play in front of an audience at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Theater Alaska partnered with environmental group 350Juneau to put on a Climate Fair for a Cool Planet, which drew over 100 people. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: A cool planet? And what isa carbon bomb?

A cool planet is a memory of the recent past, a fading reality of the present, hope for the future.

  • By Mike Tobin
  • Wednesday, July 6, 2022 5:52pm
  • Opinion

The second Climate Fair for a Cool Planet is coming up on July 23. It is an opportunity for Juneauites to learn more about the climate crisis, see and hear original commissioned dance, theater, music, and poetry, and eat ice cream with your friends and neighbors at the Whale.

What is a cool planet?

A cool planet is a memory of the recent past, a fading reality of the present and a hope for the future.

Remember the Paris Climate Accord of 2016? That’s when the nations of the earth signed a legally binding treaty to act together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal was to limit global heating to well under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Targets were set for 2030 (decrease emissions by 40%) and 2050 (“net zero emissions by 2050”). So here we are in 2022, a year short of halfway from 2016 to 2030. The tension mounts. Are we going to make the 40% emissions reduction goal by 2030? Are we on track to limit global heating to under 2 degrees Celsius this century and stabilize the climate?

Um, no. Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, not fall, every year since Paris except for one year of the Covid pandemic. All those promises from governments, oil companies, and banks at Paris about going green? Judge for yourself.

The top dozen oil and gas companies are spending about $103 million dollars per day through the rest of this decade exploiting new fields of oil and gas that cannot be burned if global heating is to be limited to well below 2 degrees Celsius. The biggest of these projects are the Carbon Bombs, oil and gas infrastructure projects that will each emit more than one billion tons (one gigaton) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over their lifetimes. There are 195 such projects according to a study published by the Guardian, May 11, 2022. To put this in context, these projects will emit the equivalent of 18 years worth of world carbon emissions at current levels. The oil majors (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron, and others) clearly have no intention of reducing exploration, pumping, or emissions. They are placing what amounts to a multi-billion dollar bet against humanity halting global heating. The bet will pay off only if governments fail to rapidly control carbon emissions on their territories.

The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no new oil and gas fields or coal mines if the world is to reach net zero by 2050. UN Secretary General Guterrez called out corporations and governments whose climate actions did not match their words. “Simply put, they are lying and the results will be catastrophic. Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

An example of lying with catastrophic consequences is the Biden administration’s announcement that it will reopen oil and gas exploration on public lands to combat high oil

prices. They know that any fossil fuels discovered cannot possibly hit the market for years, and therefore will have no effect on high gasoline prices or current inflation. They also know that building more drilling infrastructure will lock in decades of emissions that they profess to be trying to reduce. Since they had good council from people who get the urgency of the climate crisis, what forces pushed them to a decision that favors fossil fuel companies at the expense of all the rest of us? Could it be the oil and gas companies themselves with their multi billion dollar investment in controlling the outcomes in our state legislatures, Senate, House of Representatives, and courts?

Who can go up against these behemoths of greed and corruption? We who know we need a cool planet, who would love to receive a postcard from the future where our great grandkids write “thank you for preserving something for us, we can make it…..” So, in the present, what can we do together?

Come to enjoy the second Climate Fair for a Cool Planet, July 23, from 3 until 5 PM at the Whale. The Fair is a co-production of 350Juneau and Theater Alaska. You will see original plays by Kristen Ritter and David Hunsaker produced and directed by Flordelino Lagundino and Christina Apathy of wonderful Theater Alaska. You will see dance choreographed by Hali Duran, experience the poetry of Ishmael Hope, and hear original music by Michael Bucy and friends.

Zach Brown of the Tidelines Institute will speak about the urgent need to build an economy in Alaska based on renewable sources of energy, and the dangers of putting our eggs in the carbon bomb basket with mega fossil fuel projects like Willow and the Alaska Gasline. 350Juneau volunteers will be available to discuss actions we can take together.

Oh, and free ice cream by Coppa. Hope to see you there.

• Mike Tobin is a board member for 350Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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