The numbers are in, and fossil fuel emissions and global warming — drivers of sea level rise flooding — continue to head in a dangerous direction. According to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service , a non-partisan organization that tracks Earth’s temperature, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record and the last seven years have been the warmest ever recorded. The organization also reported that the global concentration of carbon dioxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gas, continues to rise.
Adding to the troubling trend is the fact that greenhouse gas emissions rebounded at a rapid rate after the pandemic slump. The Rhodium Group released a report that found that US greenhouse gas emissions, which had been in gradual decline since about 2010, increased 6.2% in 2021. The good news, if there is any, is that 2021 levels were still 5% below those recorded in 2019.
The Rhodium group report said the switch back to coal burning for electricity — in response to high natural gas prices — was behind much of the increase in emissions. Road transportation as economic activity picked up also added to the emissions spike.
The link between fossil fuel burning, the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the increase in temperatures on land and sea to ever-worsening sea level rise flooding, heatwaves, wildfires, drought, damaging storms and other climate calamities is well established. The setback in reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions is stalling US efforts to combat global warming as is the inability of Congress to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which includes a $555 billion investment in renewable energy, electric cars and other measures. The critical bill is largely being held back by Joe Manchin a Democratic Senator from the coal state of West Virginia.
The US, of course, isn’t the only country contributing to Earth’s greenhouse gas load. China and India, which together account for two-thirds of global coal consumption according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), show no signs of slowing down. To make matters worse, both countries insisted that last year’s United Nation’s Climate Change water-down language regarding coal consumption. They would only agree to a “phase-down” in the use of coal instead of an accelerated “phase-out”.
Our home planet, of course, was not given a seat in the negotiations, but it is, nonetheless, speaking loud and clear. Through the rapid upward trend in climate catastrophes it’s telling us: Try to gaslight Earth, get burned.
Real estate buyers, sellers, owners and agents in coastal communities who are counting on rational environmental policy changes to protect their investments and livelihoods need to get involved and vote for candidates dedicated to a rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, to turn this thing around.