It’s a very hard thing to swallow that we are relegating children born today and not yet born to a future of dangerous climate impacts. — Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology
It’s a very hard thing to swallow that we are relegating children born today and not yet born to a future of dangerous climate impacts. — Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Every fraction of degree of warming leads to additional damages and risks. Delay is not an option. We’ve been doing that for 40 years and now we’re finding out firsthand what that means. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton
Every fraction of degree of warming leads to additional damages and risks. Delay is not an option. We’ve been doing that for 40 years and now we’re finding out firsthand what that means. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton

Historic Climate Action Is Tucked Into Massive Bills Pending in Congress
Mr. Biden’s plan to try to fortify the United States against extreme weather — and cut the carbon dioxide emissions that are heating the Earth and fueling disasters — is embedded in two pieces of legislation pending on Capitol Hill. The future of both bills remains in question, with tension between moderate and progressive Democrats over the size and scope of many details.

Together, they contain what would be the most significant climate action ever taken by the United States. If Congress fails to pass major climate legislation now, it could be years before American political cycles afford another opportunity — a delay that scientists say the planet cannot afford.

The climate provisions are designed to quickly transform energy and transportation, the country’s two largest sources of greenhouse gases, from systems that now mostly burn gas, oil and coal to sectors that run increasingly on clean energy from the sun, wind and nuclear power.

The impact will touch a broad cross-section of American life, from the kinds of cars that Americans drive, to the types of crops grown by farmers, to the way homes are heated and buildings are constructed. One measure could shutter virtually all of the nation’s remaining coal plants, forcing sweeping change in communities dependent on mining but also, one study estimated, preventing as many as 50,000 premature deaths from pollution by 2030. And other measures would provide billions to replant in national forests, repair trails for hikers and clear brush to reduce the risk of wildfire.

“Each time you let these opportunities slip through your fingers, you’re passing a much harder problem on to the next generation,” said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and mother of four. “It’s a very hard thing to swallow that we are relegating children born today and not yet born to a future of dangerous climate impacts.”


The United States has contributed more to global warming than any other nation, and the action it takes will be felt well beyond its borders. Falling short would hamstring Mr. Biden next month, when he is expected to attend a major U.N. climate summit in Scotland to try to convince other world leaders to take stronger climate action.

... How hot the world ultimately gets will depend on many factors — including how other big polluting countries like China and India handle their emissions. Even so, scientists say, the chance to constrain global warming to about 1.5 degrees or at least below 2 degrees is growing dim.

“Even if the window for 1.5 degrees slams shut, it’s still going to be worth doing everything we can to limit as much additional warming as possible,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton. “Every fraction of degree of warming leads to additional damages and risks.”

Delay is not an option, Mr. Oppenheimer said. “We’ve been doing that for 40 years and now we’re finding out firsthand what that means,” he said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/10/climate/climate-action-congress.html