Climate change and the next generation
We need to stop thinking about climate change as an
"environmentalist" concern, and start thinking about it as a
"kids and grandkids" concern.


"Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization."
-Lonnie Thompson

Preventing runaway climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity.

The good news is that if we act immediately, we can succeed in this fight.

There's a huge gap between what scientists know about the urgency of the climate situation, and what the public understands. Many in the public think of climate change as a back-burner issue, something we can deal with later, once it starts becoming a serious problem. This is a dangerous misconception. We need to act NOW to reduce CO2 levels, or we'll likely miss the chance to preserve a stable climate.

The Climate Solution: A Global Clean Energy Revolution

The basic idea is simple. We've put too much carbon into the air, and we need to reduce it quickly before it destabilizes the climate beyond repair.

What that means for humanity is breathtakingly ambitious: zero carbon emissions, worldwide, as soon as humanly possible. Achieving this fast enough to preserve a stable climate will mean the largest mobilization of human resources in history. This will be an Operation Climate Victory, a wartime-style effort of the nations of the world to rewire the entire global economy off fossil fuels and onto clean sources of energy, and to manage land to pull carbon from the air.

Wind farm
A global network of land-based wind turbines located only in non-
forested, non-urban areas could supply forty times the current global
demand for electricity.

Not only is it possible to achieve this while maintaining a modern technological society, but in many ways we can actually improve our standard of living, and create a better world in the process. And it all can happen in far less time than most people think.

It's a little-known fact, but we could run the entire global economy on wind energy if we wanted to -- there's enough wind potential to power the world's entire existing energy needs many times over. Same for solar -- there is enough energy in sunlight that we could run our existing global energy needs 100% on solar energy if we wanted to.

We have the technology to avoid climate disaster, we just need to do deploy it on a massive scale.

      (Return to Top) (How You Can Help)            

The Problem: Two Key Points Why The Climate Crisis Is An Emergency

Why is it so urgent that we do all this at emergency, wartime speed? Why not a more leisurely, gradual transition? Very few people in the public, media, or politics understand two key points about how the Earth's temperature system operates: climate lags and feedbacks. Together, these two features of our planet's climate indicate that a wait-and-see approach on climate is likely an invitation to disaster.

Key Point Number One -- The Forty-Year Lag Between Cause And Effect

Climate lag
Climate lags: The warming we've experienced so far is roughly a quarter of
the warming we can expect as a result of the greenhouse gases we've
already put into the air.

When we raise the level of CO2, it raises the planet's temperature, but not immediately. There's a delay. It takes roughly forty years for the effects of that extra CO2 to show up as higher temperatures around us. We're not the ones who experience the consequences of our actions, our children are.

Because of this lag, it's estimated that the warming we've experienced so far is about a quarter of what we can ultimately expect as result of that extra CO2 that we've already put into the air. So even if we stopped raising atmospheric CO2 today, we can still expect another three times as much temperature increase, from the carbon we've already burned.

But... we're not stopping the rise in atmospheric CO2, we're pushing it higher and higher, faster than the planet can respond. We've created a package of "on-the-way" warming that's already in the mail to our kids and grandkids, and we're making that package bigger every year.

      (Return to Top) (How You Can Help)            

Key Point Number Two: Feedbacks - Amplifying The Warming

Climate feedback loops
Climate feedbacks: The warming from our greenhouse gases threatens to unleash an array
of vicious cycles, creating new sources of warming we won't be able to stop.

The lag is alarming enough, but there's another aspect to the situation. Studies of Earth's history show our planet is not the stable, self-balancing place we tend to think of it as. When the planet warms for any reason, the Earth has natural systems that respond to that warming in a frightening way: they add to the warming, in a feedback loop. These feedbacks have largely lain dormant during the last ten thousand years of human civilization, but our carbon emissions are starting to awaken them from their long slumber.

      (Return to Top) (How You Can Help)            

Lags + Feedbacks = A Climate Emergency

The lag postpones and disguises the warming, allowing us to accumulate a higher load of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before the public notices the climate going wacky as a result. Feedbacks magnify the resulting climate disruption, like throwing gasoline on a fire.

350ppm CO2 safety limit
We need to bring CO2 below 350 fast,
before climate feedbacks activate.
                       Image courtesy

So with major feedbacks are already starting, AND there's three times more warming on the way, AND we're continuing to raise the level of atmospheric carbon at a breakneck pace...can you see that we've got a Very Big Problem on our hands?

It's time for action. We need to bring CO2 down to a safe level, as fast as we humanly can, before any more of the "on-the-way" warming manifests, triggering more feedbacks that would spiral the situation out of our control.

If we wait until it's obvious to everyone that something is going desperately wrong with the climate, it will probably be too late to stop the unfolding catastrophe.

      (Return to Top) (How You Can Help)            

A Look At Our Children's And Grandchildren's Future (Unless We Change Course)

What if we ignore the warnings? What's the danger if we keep up business as usual?

Dust bowl drought climate change
The Dust Bowl of the 1930's gives a rough idea of what much of
the globe faces in the coming decades on our current path, except
this drought will be much hotter and drier, and it won't end.

The scientific literature paints a grim picture of our future if we stay on a high-emissions path, with a multiplying array of plagues assaulting humanity, any one of which could be devastating to civilization.

The most serious and least-discussed impacts are likely to be on agriculture, especially widespread drought in many of the world's breadbaskets. On top of that, extreme heat waves and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns will stress crops and livestock, drastically reducing yields. The likely result is widespread famine across the globe.

In addition to the food shortage, extreme weather events are predicted to grow in frequency and intensity as the planet warms. Many areas will be subject to superstorms, floods, and drought-induced wildfires. As sea levels rise and storms intensify, coastal cities around the world will be subject to flooding.

Most of these effects would be irreversible for centuries.

      (Return to Top) (How You Can Help)            

We Need YOU To Make This Happen

Parents, kids, and climate safety
The most powerful human motivation is love for our children.
Once people make the connection that this about their kids'
future, stand back!

What can we as individuals do to help bring about the immense global mobilization needed? There's a simple, two-part action plan: spread the word, and demand action from our leaders.

We need to get out the message that the science is clear: lags and feedbacks mean we're in an emergency --even though the weather around us has only changed moderately.

The way to fix it is not by persuading people to change their lightbulbs, but by getting people to press for a coordinated, international mobilization of the nations of the world to rewire the global economy onto clean energy sources.

Will people listen or care? The most powerful motivation for people is love for their children. Most people will do anything to give their kids a better life, working long hours at a job they don't like, or protecting their kids like a mama or papa bear from anyone that might harm them. We need people to make the connection that this isn't some distant, noble cause to support, it's about their kids and grandkids. Once people recognize that making a clean energy economy happen is essential to ensuring a decent future for their children, that will light a fire that nobody can stand in the way of.

Let's make this happen!

Next: How YOU can help prevent runaway climate change!