When I started this blog, I decided to call it "Climate Teacher" largely to remind myself of my belief that as much as it is a problem to solve, climate change is also a teacher for humanity, reflecting back to us important lessons about our own nature and the nature of our home, the Earth.
Yesterday, snowshoeing through our woods in the midst of snow flurries and wind, I decided that, with the start of the new year, it would be a good time to reflect on and try to articulate some of those lessons, at least as I see them.
Here's the first one:
Climate change teaches us that the destinies of all people and all nations are tied together.
When Brazil cuts is deforestation rate we all benefit by the additional carbon dioxide that Brazil's forests can sequester. When the US misses the opportunity to adopt climate legislation that could have catalyzed the beginnings of a clean energy revolution, the whole world suffers from the additional greenhouse gasses that will be emitted in the coming years and decades as a result.
One thing that people always discover when they test emissions reductions scenarios with our climate model, C-ROADS, is that without every region of the world participating, its not possible to limit emissions enough to keep future temperatures within safe bounds.
In the old world, the world before climate change, it might have been better if nations worked together, but they didn't HAVE TO. In the old world, nations expected to solve their own problems. Climate change is a challenge that solve together or not at all.
In the process, our attitudes and our institutions will need to slowly (or not so slowly!) shift until they come to reflect the physical truth that our single atmosphere, for better or worse, ties us all together.