We know how to tackle the climate crisis.
The technologies, the policies, the lifestyle changes - most are already being implemented somewhere on our planet. All that we lack is the political will, so that they might be implemented everywhere, and much more rapidly.
I say this with some confidence, having just spent two years researching and writing The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, which will be in bookshops by mid to late November. (New Society Publishers)
The warnings were grim nine years ago, when I wrote my first book - Stormy Weather - on the topic. They are even grimmer today.
Due to our continuing use of fossil fuels, our continuing destruction of the tropical rainforests, our continuing consumption of beef, and our continuing pollution of the atmosphere with black carbon from dirty diesel and open-air cook stoves, we are on track to a 6ºC temperature rise by the end of the century, causing the collapse of human civilization and most ecosystems.
The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has risen from 280 to 388 parts per million since the start of the Industrial Age, is also making the world’s oceans more acidic, threatening the death of the coral reefs. They may only occupy 0.17% of the ocean’s surface area, but they provide habitat for a quarter of all marine life. Ponder that, and let it sink in. This is just one reason why 350 is so important, as the level of CO2 we need to return to.
In the face of such a threat, how does one even sleep? Some people do not, when they learn what’s really happening.
The analogy with Churchill, who hired private statisticians to go to Germany in the 1930s to get accurate information on what Hitler was really up to, is very apt. Our climate scientists are giving us due warning of what faces us, and we need not to sleep, if it means we will start the next day with a new commitment to ensure that our children - and all future generations - will still have a world to enjoy.
What matters is not whether we feel optimistic or pessimistic, but whether we feel defeated or determined.
If we feel defeated we become part of the problem, for negativity kills creativity - and we need to be highly creative in the actions we dream up, like the October 24th International Day of Climate Action that Bill McKibben dreamed up, when people in 181 countries took part in 5200 incredible actions. Treat yourself to the feast of photos at www.350.org, and your heart will be warmed by the strength of commitment they show.
We already know what to do. This is the joyous part of the climate movement, for just as the hope of peace on Earth is deeply evocative, so is the hope of a world that no longer needs fossil fuels, that loves and respects its forests and farmlands, and where neighbours live together in thriving communities, growing their own organic food and raising their children on safe streets among people they trust.
As to the specifics, the book contains solutions for individuals, schools, colleges, churches, cities, businesses, farms, transport companies, utilities, governments, developing nations, and the world as a whole. It’s all there in a very accessible format, with photographs and websites for follow-up. For those who wonder, it completely replaces Stormy Weather, with 100% new text.
At the book’s website, www.theclimatechallenge.ca, as well as being able to buy the book, you will find a free Teachers Guide, a Climate Action Circles Guide, a Climate Scorecard for governments, a list of over 300 powerful climate quotes, and free sample solutions.
To mark the book’s publication, the BC Sustainable Energy Association has a special offer: if you become a member as a $10 monthly donor or more, we will thank you by sending you a free signed copy - you will find the details at our Climate Champions page. I have set this up because alongside other great NGOs, the BCSEA is doing sterling work to tackle the climate crisis.
So why are things so slow to change? One answer is because the climate denial movement has become much better organized, its coal and oil-funded leaders having no qualms about using lies to argue that global warming is a myth, as James Hoggan’s new book Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming shows so clearly.
For those who don’t want our civilization to evolve, including Canada’s government in Ottawa, or who hate government so much they’d rather believe global warming to be a myth than accept new policies, the denial industry gives them all they need.
We have so much to do - but as soon as we start to act, despair lifts and determination returns. That’s the way we’re designed - to act, to love, to hope, to sing. So all together now - ACT!
- Guy Dauncey