On November 18th the planet’s temperature rose past the 2.0 degree Celsius mark for the first time, a terrifying reminder that "we're now in the desperate end game for global warming," as Bill McKibben put it. As all eyes are fixed on the horrors in Gaza, we temporarily forget the longer term horrors that lie in wait for the people of the Middle East - the region is warming twice as fast as the world as a whole, and already scarce rainfall is predicted to decrease by 24%, a combination that will turn the region into an uninhabitable desert. We are largely ignoring the plight of hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan who have for years been reduced to foraging through snake infested swamps for the only crop remaining - water lilies, a food source that requires hours of processing to become edible, after repeated years of flooding rains has drowned hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Few of us noticed, as we sat at our Thanksgiving tables, that nearly 100 people died and more than 700,000 people in Somalia were displaced by unprecedented heavy rains.
And yet, in a farce of epic proportions, the COP28 climate meetings will begin on November 30th in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a petro-state funded almost entirely by fossil fuels, the meetings presided over by the head of that country's largest oil company. The Washington Post reported about the COP28 host:
“…this Gulf state, in waters miles offshore, is ramping up its oil capacity like never before. It is building artificial islands, with subsidiaries dredging sand and hauling in rock, to use as staging grounds for pumping crude oil from some of the largest petroleum reserves on earth. Its ambition is to provide the world with oil for as long as there might be demand."
SOMEWHERE THERE IS A DISCONNECT!
The International Energy Agency predicted in an October 2023 report that because of the rapid growth of renewable energy, solar in particular, fossil fuels of all types will peak before the end of this decade. The August 2023 NM General Fund Consensus Revenue estimate warned that New Mexico’s continued reliance on oil and gas revenue could subject the state to dramatic up and down swings in its finances, estimating that oil production in New Mexico would peak at about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2028 and decline steadily to about 500,000 bpd by 2050.
But just like the oil barons in the UAE, fossil fuel executives in New Mexico are vying to be last villain standing. Conoco Phillips, in a cynical effort to keep NM legislators loyal till the end, is working to convince them that oil and gas will continue to grow well beyond that time frame. A slide from a Conoco Phillips presentation to the NM Legislative Finance Committee in September predicted rosy demand for fossil fuels all the way through 2050:
These criminal fossil fuel profiteers are lying to the world, they are lying to us and they are lying to our legislators as they vie to extract the last drop of oil and the last drop of profits from a dying industry.
But we know that their days are numbered. In Montana a US court ruled that children have a constitutional right to a healthy environment. In the first half of 2023, the 27 EU member states burned 17 percent less fossil fuels for electricity than the same period in 2022, officials reported that India's greenhouse emissions rate dropped by 33 per cent in 14 years, and in November Portugal was powered by 100% renewable energy for six days. Also in November the United States and China announced that they will back a new global renewables target and work together on methane and plastic pollution.
When the Paris Climate accords were signed, earth was on track for 4°C of warming. Now we are on track for 2.5°C. Not nearly good enough, but a sign that even powerful fossil fuel executives and petro-states like the UAE and the United States are not more powerful than our love for our children, our love for our beautiful Mother Earth, and our love for life.
We have proved repeatedly that when we speak truth to power and demand that our leaders value life over profit, coal plants can be closed, utilities can be forced to adopt renewable energy, and LNG plants can be blocked. Last week, for example, dozens came out to speak against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in New Mexico. And many of you followed up with fantastic Letters to the Editor in the Abq Journal!
Today we hope you will dig deep to help us raise $80,000 before the end of the year to meet our end-of-year fundraising goals. When we organize and stand together, we are powerful. As Fred Hampton said: "Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!"