Close to Home: The price of climate inaction is destruction

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Over the past few weeks, climate change has been timidly appearing in the news media in California and in statements from government officials about the “unprecedented” fires that amaze firefighters with incinerating temperatures of up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes growing in all directions at once, creating their own winds and moving faster than the crews fighting them.

How can California be punished so badly by climate change? What has gone so wrong? Aren’t we the world’s leaders in climate change action?

The truth is that Californians may be the best talkers about climate change, but we aren’t doing nearly enough in relation to the gravity of the climate crisis.

So, Californians, as the rest of the world, are experiencing the reality that the price of inaction (or insufficient action) is destruction. We must either transform our economies and commit all our resources to climate restoration and climate change adaptation or expect an endless cycle of catastrophic and debilitating events stemming from the man-made climate.

A level of mobilization at least matching World War II could give humanity its best chance of dealing with the climate crisis. It must be immediately implemented.

The Global Climate Action Summit, which begins Wednesday in San Francisco, is an opportunity for the people to demand binding commitments to immediate and total climate change action.

After more than 40 years of scientists, and some visionaries, telling the nations of the Earth to immediately start reducing greenhouse gases emissions to stop the warming of the atmosphere, the climate has reached a level of change in which the predicted disasters, such as unprecedented fires and floods, are happening in real time.

Because an early version of an “angry” climate is already present for all to experience, a massive mobilization must happen now. We must act and invest in climate restoration and climate change adaptation with similar intensity.

The former is needed to cool down the atmosphere, to bring it back closer to the state of homeostasis where the biosphere used to thrive. The latter is vital to protecting life, our environment and our property from the extreme challenges climate change will keep bringing for years to come.

The high temperatures, low humidity, strong and persistent winds, incredible amounts of rain, endless droughts, rising sea levels and mighty hurricanes and tornadoes are not flukes. They are climate change.

We either take climate change very seriously, or we will be history. Just putting solar panels on our roofs will not save us. We must transform our societies and economies to recover the climatic balance we had just a few decades ago, and we must start immediately.

California and our own Sonoma County must stop considering climate change a factor to be taken into consideration. Climate change is the factor that, if it is not put front and center, will destroy the fifth economy of the world and kill many more Californians. The 2017 fires alone cost the California economy at least $180 billion.

California does not need to create any more legislative panels, departments and committees to analyze climate change. What California needs are official and binding state of emergency declarations from the governor, the counties and the cities to deal with every aspect of climate change. This, and only this, will give Californians the best chance to survive and thrive.

Jorge Rebagliati of Santa Rosa is owner of Quest Green Technology Products.

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