Right now we are failing. And when we ask each other what can we do, we realize the multifaceted immense problems we are facing that probably cannot be solved by just a couple of us – or one state.
The goal right now --- staying under two degrees of CO2 emissions – will be missed if we do absolutely nothing. As Saul Griffith, the chief scientist and founder of Otherlab, a nonprofit that advocates rapid electrification, wrote in the NYT, “The existing machines in the world that burn fossil fuels – the coal plants, natural gas plants, cars, furnaces and boilers in people’s basements -- if they’re allowed to live out their natural life spans, they will emit enough carbon dioxide to take us very close to two degrees.” In other words, if we do nothing, we quickly get to a two- degree centigrade (or 3.6 fahrenheit) increase.
The NYT also reported that the seven warmest years in the history of accurate worldwide record-keeping have been the last seven years, and 19 of the last 20 warmest years have occurred during the last 20 years.
The problem, as I see it, is that there are so many causes of the increased CO2 that it’s difficult to focus on what to do first – drive only electric cars, convert houses to all-electric, stop using natural gas, get rid of all coal plants, stop using all fossil fuels, heat our water electrically, not buy natural gas, etc. We can’t do it all at once, but it also seems we are not focusing on what to do next. President Biden has a good to-do laundry list, but let’s prioritize it.
And even if we do some of these things, we will have to dramatically increase the production of electricity. I am not going to even mention how many millions this will cost. And in doing so, can we avoid blackouts and can we manage to struggle through heat waves? A few details to iron out, I guess.
In a NYT article by Ezra Klein, one of the experts he talked with said that the $900 billion proposed by Biden for climate change is “simply too small.” What’s needed is more like $10 trillion over 10 years. Is that possible?
I hope so, because this planet needs to survive. And if we work our way through it, it will require a lot of money and personal sacrifices.
And we need renewed public focus on this critical problem. One small suggestion I have is to change how we talk about. Once we called this problem “global warming” until some people said, “Well, where I live we still have very cold winters, so what are they talking about when they call it global warming? Okay, scientists then started referring to it as “climate change.”
But now those words, in my estimation, are overused. People say we have to work on “climate change,” and we all nod our heads but it doesn’t really register or tell us why we should worry about it or spell out what t we can do about it. Maybe we should refer to this problem “our dying planet” or “our scorching earth.” Maybe you have a new dramatic phrase we could use to get more public attention.
We no longer can survive the denial of climate change. And this cannot be or is a partisan issue.
What if a heat dome parks itself in the sky right above our Peninsula cities? It can happen – it did just happen in Portland and Seattle. And it will continue happening. So let’s focus on one or two solutions, like curtailing or stopping our dependence on fossil fuels, and at least we can start to make climate change a a little less severe.