(A new addition to the Our Climate Ourselves Essay Series, first published in Common Dreams.)
In a past column I have written about a narrow window of opportunity, a period of perhaps as few as ten years within which humanity must make dramatic reductions in worldwide CO2 emissions or run the risk of unleashing dangerous cascades of “runaway” warming. In this scenario, warming would begin to feed upon itself and outgrow the human power to slow it, leading to shifts in temperature, sea level, ocean currents, rainfall patterns, and ecology with the potential to disrupt coastal cities, agriculture, and ecosystems.
Minimizing this risk calls for massive improvements in energy efficiency, decreases in consumption, and a rapid shift to clean energy. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that all of this is possible if we were to get serious about public investment and incentives for a life-serving energy system, but ten years is a short window for going about such large scale change, especially in a nation that has not yet gathered itself to rise to the challenge.
A few hours and a little research will provide all of the information you need to come to your own conclusion about the above assessment. But then what? If you find yourself agreeing that we have ten years to address a problem of human survival and that addressing it will require very deep changes in much that we take for granted, how do you find the response that is right for you, whoever you are? What’s a fifth grade teacher to do? Or a grandmother? An artist? A carpenter? A student?
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