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.