Many of us had snow on our minds yesterday, especially after predictions of anywhere from one inch to a foot. We waited with the same anticipation some feel on Christmas Eve.
Finally, in the afternoon, the flurries began. Toward the end of the day, flakes were was sticking to the ground but not the streets. It’s anyone’s guess what we’ll find this morning.
Relying on weather reports, school officials decided to close schools early Thursday — for the obvious reason that people who don’t have much experience driving in snow might not be the safest drivers on the road. It’s a caution that, even if overabundant, put the welfare of our children first, where it should be.
The mere thought of snow was a reminder of the difference between weather and climate — weather dealing more with the moment and climate with trends over time — and that human-produced greenhouse gases have had a profound, detrimental effect on our climate, which shows up in subtle ways in our weather.
Recent events, though, have offered a modicum of hope — hope that must be balanced with reality.
Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, recently pledged to spend $10 billion of his own personal money to fight climate change. He’s created the Bezos Earth Fund and promises to begin giving grants this summer to scientists, activists and nonprofits working to protect Earth, The New York Times reported.
“I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change,” Bezos said on Instagram. “It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations and individuals. We can save Earth.”
His company, Amazon, is already producing 40% of its energy from renewable sources, and pledges to increase that to 80% by 2024 and 100% by 2030.
Also last week, BP, the world’s fifth-largest oil-and-gas company, pledged to eliminate its own greenhouse gas emissions entirely by 2050. It said it would gradually shift its investments into energy projects that don’t emit carbon dioxide. It also said it would install methane measurement equipment at all its processing sites by 2023, so it could find and stop leaks.
“Make no mistake: We aim to invest more and more in low-carbon businesses over time and by consequence less and less in oil and gas,” BP’s new chief executive, Bernard Looney, said in a webcast from London.
BP is one of five of the largest oil companies — ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total are the others — that earlier this month, as part of a coalition convened by the Climate Leadership Council, announced a “concrete plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions in the United States by half by 2035,” according to council chairman Ted Halstead.
These announcements are promising, though they’ve been met with skepticism by some environmental activists, who see devils in the details. This certainly isn’t the first time an oil company has promised to become greener.
But the difference may be that many of these changes were prompted by shareholders, customers and employees, like the worker group Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, which protested and lobbied hard for Amazon to change. Civilians, so to speak, with real-world investments, like their children and grandchildren, were tired of being part of the problem and wanted to see some solutions. They’re going to follow developments and stay engaged.
Those of us who appreciate free-market solutions can only applaud; this is how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it?
When it comes to the corporate world, as in government, the saying is still true: If the people lead, the leaders will follow.