Climate crisis

No human challenge is so potentially uniting as the climate crisis. Our human drive to invent and build has led to extraordinary advances and great technological promise. It's also had grave, unintended consequences. And unless we face the climate crisis with ingenuity, resolve, and a sense of urgency, much of the world as we know it will begin to unravel before our eyes.

The warning signs are plain to see. 1934 was the hottest year on record, and the "fact" that the 10 hottest years on record happened after 1990 is FALSE, only 6 of the hottest years on record have happened since 1990.Mountain glaciers are fading on every continent and the sea ice is melting. The seas have begun a slow but menacing rise. Also the climate crisis will impact the weather... from more droughts and extreme heat to hurricanes,tornados,and floods.

What are the economic costs of the climate crisis?

The projected economic costs of the climate crisis are extraordinary. By mid-century, extreme weather alone could cost 0.5 - 1% of the global economic production. A seminal study led by a distinguished British economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, suggests that under business-as-usual scenarios climate change could reduce overall economic activity in the range of 5 to 20%-more likely on the high side of this range. Think Great Depression, or world war.

Can we solve it?

We can - and must - act urgently if we are to limit and eventually halt the impacts of global warming on human communities and natural ecosystems. The greater the magnitude and rate of warming, the greater the chances are for truly devastating - and potentially irreversible - changes in the Earth's climate system. Even by acting today to reduce our emissions from cars, power plants, land use, and other sources, we will see some degree of continued warming for a period of time because past emissions will stay in the atmosphere for decades or more. But, the window for effective action is closing fast and responding to the climate crisis will take commitment and ingenuity. The actions we take in the next several years will determine the kind of world our children and grandchildren will inherit.

How much will it cost to solve?

The IPCC has estimated that stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that will limit long-term temperature rise to a few degrees will slow the rate of global economic growth by only about a tenth of a percent per year. Based on the expected growth rate of the global economy, that is about equivalent to the world reaching the expected 2030 economic levels in 2031 in return for preventing the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Fortunately, we have the tools we need to start on the path to a stable climate. Fuel-efficient vehicles and higher efficiency appliances, wind turbines and solar panels proven strategies to protect threatened forests; communities making it easier for people to walk and bike. These are just a few of the common sense solutions that will not only reduce global warming, but can save us money and create new business opportunities

What should I do to help?

We have lacked full global leadership and political will to implement these solutions as if our future depended on it. But now we need to insist that businesses and governments all over the world join individuals in taking the steps needed to get the job done. We need to help citizens everywhere understand how the choices they make in their daily lives can make a real difference, and we need to provide incentives for all of us to make better choices.

The climate forces we have set loose are great indeed. But the world we build as we move forward to meet this challenge will be a sight to behold. This is our opportunity to come together to make a real difference.

Throughout history, people have been a powerful force for positive change. That's because when people unite and call for action, change isn't just possible, it's inevitable. But no single person stormed the beaches of Normandy or ended slavery, and no single person will stop global warming. When we solve the climate crisis, it will be because of regular people like you and me. It will be because we, along with our neighbors, co-workers, and friends around the world, took a stand and demanded that our leaders make stopping global warming a top priority.

In order to create the kind of large-scale change required to halt climate change, we need elected leaders to implement policies and pass laws that promote renewable energy and support energy efficiency. We need companies to publicly support these policies and improve their business operations and product offerings.

In addition to making our voices heard, whether by buying energy efficient appliances, switching to electricity generated by renewable energy, or taking public transportation. By taking these actions and by talking to our friends about the climate crisis, we are not only reducing our personal contribution to global warming, we're building support for additional progress at the local, state, national, and international level.  

 The future will become safer and cleaner for our kids. Innovation and imagination will be the centerpieces of our robust economy. This isn't mere possibility, it is the future we need to ensure happens. We must stop global warming -- we cannot afford to fail !

What is global warming?

The science behind global warming is often portrayed as enormously complex, but some of it is quite simple. It begins with a ray of light, shot through space from the staggering inferno of our sun. That sunbeam delivers energy to earth, giving us light and warmth and life.

As some of this energy radiates back toward space as heat, a portion is absorbed by a delicate balance of heat-trapping (or "greenhouse") gases in the atmosphere that create an insulating layer. Without the temperature control of this greenhouse effect, the Earth's average surface temperature would be 0°F (-18°C), a temperature so low that the Earth would be frozen and could not sustain human life as we know it.

The most abundant of the greenhouse gases is water vapor. In addition, there are other powerful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide. Each of these is a natural part of the never-ending cycle of life, death, and decomposition on Earth. But since the onset of the Industrial Revolution humans have been pumping out more and more of these and other greenhouse gases. Scientists are clear: human activities are contributing to global warming by adding large amounts of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Our fossil fuel use is the main source of these gases. Every time we drive a car, use electricity from coal-fired power plants, or heat our homes with oil or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the air. The second most important addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is related to deforestation, mainly in the tropics, as well as other land-use changes.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now 380 parts-per-million (ppm), 100 ppm higher than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But we can look back even further. By drilling into the deepest glacial ice we can measure CO2 deep into time. And this ice library shows more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any time in last 650,000 years.

As a result of the build up of gases, the temperature is beginning to rise. Adults today have already felt the average global temperature rise more than a full degree Fahrenheit (0.8°C) during our lifetimes. We expect another degree F by 2020 due to past emissions. Based on modeling by an international body of experts studying the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the temperature could increase by more than 7°F (4°C) by the end of the century in the absence of meaningful efforts to rein in global warming pollution.

Earth is naturally insulated by a delicate balance of heat-trapping (or "greenhouse") gases in the atmosphere. When the sun shines on the Earth, some of that heat is absorbed, keeping Earth warm enough to support life.

The problem is that over the last century, we humans have been releasing more and more carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere when we burn fuels and cut down forests. These additional gases have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere, trapping more heat than is healthy for the Earth.

The result is human-caused global warming, which brings serious threats from increased flooding to the spread of disease to the disruption of agriculture in many parts of the world.

Scientists tell us that stopping global warming is urgent -- we have just a few years to turn around the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst effects. The good news is that we can achieve these emissions reductions with effective national policies and international treaties. We must insist that businesses and governments join individuals around the world to greatly increase energy efficiency, widely adopt renewable energy, and commit to stopping climate change. Success is possible, with your help!

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