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Civilization-ending climate change is knocking on the door — unless we act now

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We are standing in an extinction event. Many of us started noticing it when the insects began to vanish in large numbers right after the turn of the century.

I'll never forget the day the trucker called into my radio show. It was probably around 14 years ago, and he identified himself as a long-haul trucker who regularly ran a coast-to-coast route from the Southeast to the Pacific Northwest dozens of times a year.

"Used to be when I was driving through the southern part of the Midwest like I am right now," he said, "I'd have to stop every few hours to clean the bugs off my windshield. It's been three days since I've had to clean bugs off my windshield on this trip. There's something spooky going on out here."

The phone lines lit up. People from Maine to California, from Florida to Washington state shared their stories of the vanishing insects where they lived. Multiple long-haul truckers listening on SiriusXM had similar stories.

We had just moved to Portland at that time, living on a floating home in the Willamette River, and the air was often filled with bugs and swallows, small insect-eating birds that fly as fast and sometimes as erratically as bats. A neighbor had a "swallow house," a box on a pole by the side of her home with a dozen small holes in it where the swallows made their nests.

A decade-and-a-half later, now living on the Columbia River in Portland, I haven't seen more than a dozen swallows at a time in at least two years. The swarms of gnats, the mosquitoes, butterflies, lightning bugs, beetles and moths that marked spring and summer for most of my 70 years, from Michigan to Vermont to Georgia to Oregon, seem to have largely vanished.

The insect apocalypse is only a leading indicator of what is already a larger disaster for much of humanity and is now beginning to hit the wealthy world (the U.S. and Europe) hard.

Climate change from manmade global warming is here in a way that even fossil fuel billionaires and their paid shills can no longer deny. For the moment, we still — probably — have the ability to determine how bad it's going to hit us.

We long ago passed the point where we could decide if we were going to let it make our lives miserable. We're there. In all probability we passed that tipping point several generations ago, when fossil fuel companies and climate scientists were just arriving at a consensus that it was not only real but could be deadly to human life on this planet.

The response of the fossil fuel industry was to follow the tobacco industry's playbook and........

© Salon

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