As the climate crisis and an El Niño event push temperatures to record highs across continents, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is raising the alarm that the “Earth is screaming at us” to stop the use of fossil fuels and move quickly to address the climate crisis.
“The fuse has been burning for decades, and now the climate change bomb has gone off,” Inslee said in an interview with ABC over the weekend. “The scientists are telling us that this is the new age. This is the age of consequences.”
Currently, extreme heat is scorching millions across three continents, with unrelenting heat waves in Asia, Europe and North America, unprecedented wildfires blazing across Greece and Canada, and more heat expected in days to come. July is likely to be the hottest month for planet Earth, breaking records that stretch back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, experts say.
The heat represents a blaring alarm that the climate crisis is here and that things will only get worse in coming decades, Inslee reminded audiences.
“What the scientific community is telling us now is that the Earth is screaming at us,” he said. While the climate crisis is upon us, however, it’s possible for world leaders to reverse course and prevent the worst to come, he said, issuing a clear call to stop using fossil fuels.
“This is a solvable problem. But we need to stop using fossil fuels. That is the only solution to this massive assault on humanity,” Inslee said. “There’s two parts of this story: This thing is now the age of consequences, the bomb has gone off. But we do have the ability to restrain fossil fuels if we make the commitments we need to.”
He touted his record in Washington, including the prohibition of selling gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035, and a pledge to reduce emissions to net zero by 2030. With the shift to renewable energies and the jobs that such a move creates, Inslee said that he and other like-minded lawmakers are “inventing a new economy.” The governor also advised the audience to keep an eye for and vote against climate deniers when they appear on the ballot.
The climate records of Washington lawmakers, including Inslee, have been the subject of criticism from climate advocates, who say that lawmakers in the Democratically-controlled state don’t go far enough to combat the climate crisis. But the state is still miles ahead of other states, many of which haven’t released greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans or other comparable climate legislation.
Of course, the climate crisis won’t wait for climate deniers to catch up. Extreme heat is one of the most dangerous consequences of the climate crisis; a study published in Nature Medicine earlier this month found that over 61,000 people died in Europe last year during summer heat waves, for instance, with the death toll this year expected to increase even further.