Alarms are clanging that the world's losing the battle against climate change.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned this week after a closed door meeting with global leaders that the Glasgow climate change conference in November will fail if countries don't strengthen pledges to reduce carbon emissions.
Gutterres said that the world must cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to control rising temperatures. Instead, humanity's on pace to increase emissions by 16 percent by decade's end.
That would mean a catastrophic 2.7-degree celsius increase in temperatures over pre-industrial averages, instead of the 1.5 degree threshold set in the 2015 Paris agreement.
As the United Nations holds its annual climate change week in New York City, New Yorker magazine columnist and environmental activist Bill McKibben sounded the alarm that immediate action is needed to stop the worst ravages of climate change. Immediate shifts to renewable energy will be less expensive than delaying the transformation, he said.
Along with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, McKibben targeted West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who seeks to slow down climate change action proposed in President Joe Biden's spending plans.
McKibben pointed to Manchin crony Nick Akins, head of West Virginia's American Electric Power, which relies on coal to generate clectricity. Manchin, whose family owns a coal brokerage company and who receives millions in donations from fossil fuel companies, is being solicited by Akins to delay shifts to renewable energy.
Like McKibben, Krugman condemned Manchin holding so much power over decisions upon which the world's fate rests. Krugman reported that West Virginia's coal industry has suffered major losses, and is no longer the state's major employer. Manchin's nostalgic support for coal hurts the state's citizens, Krugman concluded.
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson echoed Gutterres' warnings, but his climate change villain was Chinese Premier Xi Jingping, not Manchin. Although China seeks to develop solar power, it is also developing a number of coal-powered plants, Robinson said.
Xi is also moving to take control of Chinese companies that had achieved independence under the country's hybrid economic model, the Wall Street Journal reported.
As the globe suicidally increases emissions, and extreme weather worsens, columnists are speaking out. The world's hopes depend on their voices being heard to counter political intransigence and the power of fossil-fuel companies.