Recently I wrote to several environmental attorneys I worked with during my career with the U.S. EPA. It was a plea for help to find a legal way to prosecute those deceiving the public about global warming, climate change and the consequences to the future of civilization. Consider this as a letter to all jurors as a plea for help to stop these crimes against humanity.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Dear […],

We have got to find a way to stop the lies and the knowing and willful deception by a few self-serving sociopaths.

Most of civilization has moved so far away from the natural world that it no longer associates water, soil, planetary systems, the climate with day-to-day life. Rapid urbanization only increases the schism between the sciences and culture. The fact remains, the climate impacts the bottom as well as the top of the entire food chain in the biosphere.  

Only a small difference in temperature and climate can make a dramatic difference in regional ecology. The difference between the ecology of Eastern and Western Washington state; or Seattle and San Francisco is only about 3℉ in mean temperature. Science is telling the world that we are dashing right past 3.6℉ (2℃) and headed toward 7.2℉ (4℃) or more, as if that only means a sunny day at the beach. This summer we hit 120℉ near Walla Walla, Washington and beat the old record by 7℉.  

Global warming isn’t uniform. The Middle East already hits 125℉ to 130℉ in much of the region. The best model projections indicate that it will be reaching 130 to 140℉ before mid-century. People simply can’t live at those temperatures. 

A zebra crossing near Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital during a May heatwave that claimed over 800 lives. Photograph taken on May 25, 2015. (Image Credit: Sanjeev Verma / Hindustan Times)

Last May, the Indian capital of New Delhi reached 45.5ºC (114ºF), five degrees higher than the seasonal average. This photograph, taken on May 25, shows a zebra crossing near Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital melting in the heat. The heat wave is linked to the deaths of at least 800 people. (Image Credit: Sanjeev Verma / Hindustan Times)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reports that the Arab Spring began when global grain prices exploded. The DoD made the connection between global grain price increases and a heat wave, fires and a 40 percent loss in Russia’s wheat crop.

People look to their governments when emergency situations arise. Failed states, and there are a growing number, can’t help them. How many meals would you have to miss before you acted out, hit the streets in protest, or worse? Millions are on the move today. Hundreds of thousands have died and many times that will die in the future without adequate, affordable food and water.  

To quote myself, “When people don’t have food and water they tend to get rowdy.”

The climate not only determines what crops can be grown, but where rain falls and how much. People get their milk and bread from the market, but it actually comes from a habitable climate, rich soil and abundant water. There is a reason scientists use the term “food chain.” If you break one link, the entire system changes. Those changes are permanent and the ecosystem never, ever, reverts back to what it was.

Let’s look at our largest ecosystem, the oceans. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide, but that turns into carbonic acid. Carbonic acid erodes the carbon in the exoskeletons of plankton, krill, corals and mollusks at the bottom of the food chain. We have lowered the pH of the world’s ocean an average of 30 percent. The rate of pH change is faster than many species can adapt to or evolve. Phytoplankton and zooplankton have a symbiotic (mutually beneficial interdependency) relationship. Without krill, we lose food for small fish. No Krill, no food chain — no Salmon, Tuna, Cod and so on.  

Phytoplankton (Image Credit: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, MESA Project)

Phytoplankton (Image Credit: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, MESA Project)

There is one other significant fact that people tend not to think about. Phytoplankton convert solar energy into tissue. In this process of photosynthesis, they use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Roughly 28 percent of Earth’s atmospheric oxygen comes from forests, but 70 percent comes from marine plants. If we over-saturate the oceans with carbon dioxide, we are destroying the single largest contributor of oxygen to the air we breathe.  

You were two of the best environmental attorneys I ever worked with. When you and I discuss crimes against humanity, we are actually looking at crimes against the entire planet and systems that support life as we know it. We give tickets for spitting on the sidewalk or smoking because it threatens public health. I find it tragically ironic that we find it so difficult to find a way to prosecute crimes against humanity and the self-serving lies against anthropogenic global warming and the climate changes it causes. This isn’t just crimes against humanity. It is threatening the entire planet. It is biocide on a planetary scale.

We must stop this suicidal insanity and the intentional lies driving civilization to extinction.

How long can you hold your breath?

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