Time to have a talk / it will not be fun / buckle up. Feel free to skip to the end at any point for pleasant pictures of adorable animals.
You and I are witnessing the twenty-first century’s great crime: a global holocaust whose first victims have already perished. And I mean holocaust, from Greek holókaustos, translated as “whole” and “burnt” – the whole enormity of life daily sacrificed to flames. That is not hyperbole. Driving this crime is the collapse of the world’s stable climatic and atmospheric systems. Fossil energy economies are doing this. They transform the world into a deathly, suffocating hothouse sabotaging the climate and atmosphere. That’s what they do.
Carbon energy kills 3.5 to 6 million people per year through air pollution alone. Beyond that, this crime is also killing people via extreme hurricanes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves, expanding the range of deadly diseases like malaria and Lyme, famines, and conflicts like the Syrian civil war. There is good reason to believe these disasters will destabilizegeopolitical relationships and lead to world war. Every one of these types of disasters will continue to intensify—that is inevitable at this point.
What is not inevitable is degree of intensity. Quantity of death can still be curtailed; we can prevent billions of deaths, even forestall human extinction. But the tragic fact is that some immense minimum of murder is certain. The body count will exceed those of any crimes that have come before. Monarchs and dictators designed the twentieth century’s vast death; this new crime is perpetrated by a global oligarchy – a hereditary aristocracy – a network of governments ruled by a super-wealthy elite. The most culpable among this elite are members of the oil, gas, and coal industries.
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