Update, March 12, 2016: Data released Saturday from NASA confim that February 2016 was not only the most unusually warm month ever measured globally, at 1.35 degrees Celsius above the long-term average—it was more than 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the previously most unusually warm month ever measured: January 2016.* (“Most unusually warm” is not to be confused with “warmest ever measured.” Average temperatures are much more difficult to calculate than deviations from average, for many technical reasons—including the fact that there’s a strong seasonality in average global temperatures. Climate scientists also strongly prefer discussing deviations from average because that’s what matters to plants, animals, and humans adapting to climate change.)
In March, the pioneering climate scientist James Hansen, along with 18 co-authors, released an alarming study showing that sea level rise and extreme weather from global warming could unfold much, much faster than previously thought, with dire consequences.1
Meteorologist and Slate reporter Eric Holthaus wrote, “If Hansen and his colleagues are correct, this paper is likely one of the most important scientific contributions in history—and a stark warning to world governments to speed up the transition to carbon-free energy.”2
It’s a warning that President Obama needs to hear as he moves ahead with the offshore drilling plan recently unveiled by his administration. In a trademark incrementalist move, the president spared the Atlantic from new drilling, but is blazing ahead with plans to open new offshore areas of the Gulf of Mexico and even the Arctic.3
There’s simply no room left for half measures. But it’s not too late to urge President Obama to draw a line. The Department of Interior is now taking public comments on the drilling plan. We need to send a message now.
We know that the president does hear our pressure when we put enough of it on him. The decision to remove the Atlantic from his drilling plan came after intense pressure from activists across the country, including more than 66,000 CREDO activists who signed a petition to the president.
We need him to hear it now. The Gulf of Mexico and Arctic represent the eighth and third largest pools of carbon on the planet respectively. They simply must be off-limits to new drilling.4
During the Paris Climate conference, President Obama committed to trying to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius — an incredibly ambitious goal that, according to Hansen’s new findings, may still carry heavy consequences for all life on earth. To achieve it requires more than 80 percent of all known fossil fuel reserves must say in the ground. That means no new offshore drilling. Period.
Last year was the hottest on record. This January was the hottest on record. As was this February and March. April isn’t even finished and scientists are already confident 2016 will be the new hottest year. This year already, for the first time in human history, the northern hemisphere breached 2 degrees of average warming.5 Yet President Obama is still trying to have it both ways on fossil fuel extraction.What more could it possibly take to convince President Obama that new offshore drilling must be off limits? Us.
Our pressure makes a difference. Thank you for speaking out.
Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns
CREDO Action from Working Assets
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- “We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future,” Washington Post, 3/22/16
- “James Hansen’s Bombshell Climate Warning Is Now Part of the Scientific Canon,” Slate, 3/22/16
- “The 14 fossil-fuel projects poised to f*ck up the climate,” Grist, 1/22/13
- “Obama Halts Atlantic Drilling, but Keeps Arctic and Gulf Open for Business,” InsideClimate 3/15/16
- “Our Planet’s Temperature Just Reached a Terrifying Milestone,” Slate, 3/12/16