Global Warming: The Planet’s Death Row

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

When I went into the yard several days ago, (OK—cage) I couldn’t help but be shocked. It was still dark, as the sun hadn’t yet risen, not quite 7 a.m. It was nearly 60 degrees. When I felt how warm it was, I was absolutely stunned. The grass was still green, and it felt like a moist, spring morning.

I couldn’t help but think of global warming—the dumping of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which traps heat near the earth’s surface, like a blanket on a bed.

It has been clearer than I’ve ever seen it in over 50 years of life. I then thought that it was a mixed blessing that Al Gore wasn’t elected in 2000, for if he had been, it’s doubtful that he would’ve been so outspoken about the causes of global warming, and the consequences for the powerful oil companies.

The theft of the election freed him to spend his time and attention on a matter close to his heart, and his resultant filmed lecture (and book), An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, (Melcher Media/Rodale). Thus, it has reached far more people, at a deeper level, than any presidential press conference could’ve.

Although long derided by corporate-paid pundits and conservatives (why are people called “conservatives” who don’t care about conservation of the planet?) as tree-huggers and many environmentalists who want to destroy U.S. business, there are few thinking people who dare to challenge the obvious signs of global warming. In December and January, cherry blossoms bloomed in Washington, D.C. Flowers and bugs react to the warmth like it’s an early spring.

In the frigid polar region, polar bears are drowning—drowning!—because of the growing distance between ice floes. Human habitation (at least in cities) is endangered in this new world formed by human hands.

How serious is global warming? Jim Hanson, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote recently in The New York Review of Books(July 13, 2006) in the article, “The Threat to the Planet,” what the difference of 5 degrees warmth means to global sea levels:

“Here too, our best information comes from the Earth’s history. The last time that the Earth was five degrees warmer was three million years ago, when sea level was about eighty feet higher.

“Eighty feet! In that case, the United States would lose most East Coast cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami; indeed, practically the entire state of Florida would be under water. Fifty million people in the US live below that sea level. Other places would fare worse. China would have 250 million displaced persons. Bangladesh would produce 120 million refugees, practically the entire nation. India would lose the land of 150 million people.” [p. 13]

That means the land and living areas for over 570 million people, all around the world would go underwater if the average temperature on the planet rose by just 5 degrees!

Never in human history have people caused so much vast devastation on such a scale.

This is civilization?

This is one of the costs of “the American way of life.”

The catastrophe threatened by such an ecological crisis kinda puts terrorism on another plane of worry, doesn’t it?

There have been wars and rumors of wars for fuels that are contributing to the destruction of the earth, and the flooding of its cities. Politicians haven’t moved a muscle to solve this very real crisis. That’s because they are, by their very nature, but henchmen for corporations, which are concerned only about profit.

This system ain’t the solution. Indeed, it is the problem.

Only the people, repudiating the system, can begin to change this emergent tragedy, by working together to build a new world.

—Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal, January 8, 2007