Climate Change: How to Tackle the Most Pressing Challenge Facing Humanity
President Obama vowed action on climate change in his historic inaugural speech, warning that "the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." Here's how to make the case for why and how we can tackle one the most pressing challenges facing humanity.
Lead with common sense and values. Our grandchildren will ask us what we did on climate change. What's our answer?
Connect: We see the weather getting weirder with our own eyes. We see more frequent and destructive droughts, floods, wildfires and storms.
Explain: There's no longer any doubt we have a serious problem. Climate disruption is happening right here, right now, and it's making weather disasters and record-breaking heat waves worse.
Analogize: The threat of climate change is accepted science. If 97 out of 100 engineers warned you to not drive on a crumbling bridge, would you still drive on it? If 97 out of 100 doctors warned you to not eat tainted food, would you still eat it?
Aspire: If we want to protect our kids and grandkids, we have to deal with climate change before it gets out of control. Anyone who doubts whether we're up to the task is ignoring what America is capable of.
Illustrate: American businesses are starting to use the amazing energy technologies that our engineers have developed—including panels that harness power from the sun and turbines that capture energy from the wind.
Lead: We need to speed up the use of these technologies and spur more innovation. America should be leading the world in clean energy solutions, not getting left behind by Europe and China.
Define the opposition and demand accountability. Oil companies are rigging the system against our energy future.
Connect: We see the problem and know the solution. So who's trying to stop us?
Define: Dirty energy companies are holding back progress to protect their profits.
Explain: Oil and coal companies pay off politicians to protect wasteful taxpayer subsidies and keep out the competition by blocking clean energy innovation.
Illustrate: They keep our political system rigged by spending millions to influence our elections, lobby politicians, and spread doubts about accepted science that hurts their bottom line.
Lead: It's time to break Big Oil's grip on Washington and put people instead of corporations back in charge of our democracy.
Values: Our grandchildren will ask us what we did on climate change. What's our answer?
What you need to know:
- In climate science, a single degree in temperature changes is an enormous deal. In fact, raising the temperature of the planet one degree Celsius requires about 5 exaJoules (5 with 18 zeros after it) of energy—or the entire energy consumption of the United States for 4 million years.
- 2012 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. ever—by a lot. Last year's temperature average demolished the previous record by a full degree Fahrenheit. (Remember that with people, even a few degrees increase in body temperature can kill a patient.)
- Last year, more than 34,000 high temperature records were set at weather stations across the country, or more than five times the number of record temperature lows (fewer than 6,700).
- Globally, the 10 warmest years on record all happened in the past 15 years. Nobody who is younger than 28 has ever experienced a colder-than-average month because the last such month was February 1985.
- Carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is the highest it's been in at least 650,000 years overall and at least 800,000 years in some regions.
- Climate change is accepted scientific consensus. Ninty-seven percent of scientists studying weather and climate agree that climate change is real, that it is happening here and now, and that it is caused by manmade industrial carbon pollution.
- Seeing is understanding—we see extreme weather events amplified by global warming all the time, like wildfires, record-breaking heat extremes, droughts and coastal flooding.
- Over the past three decades, weather disasters have caused more than $1 trillion in damage and 30,000 fatalities in North America.
- In addition to scientists, less obvious groups like undecided voters, business leaders, the insurance & risk management industry, former Congressional Republicans freed from re-election pressures and evangelicals are all urging our leaders in Washington to take action on climate change.
- Three-fourths of Americans understand that global warming is affecting weather in the U.S. and the majority understands that global warming is caused mostly by human activities.
- Nearly 90 percent of Americans agree the U.S. should make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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