Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought the climate crisis front and center. The warm waters of the ocean are what fuel hurricanes, so with increasing global temperatures, stronger hurricanes are being produced. They are concrete examples of the horrors that the climate crisis may have in store for us. But we must not despair. It is not too late to reverse the damage. We may have created the crisis, but we can also solve it.
The book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken, offers 80 strategies to battle climate change. They are ranked by the amount of greenhouse gases they can avoid producing or remove from the atmosphere. Some of the strategies are very surprising. For instance, number six is educating girls. The more education a girl receives, the better control she has over her finances which helps break the cycle of poverty. Better educated girls can have fewer and healthier children. They also cope better with shocks from disasters to their communities. Educating girls surprisingly can produce a 59.6 gigaton reduction of carbon dioxide by the year 2050.
Number three on the list is food waste. Currently, one-third of food that is raised or prepared does not get eaten. The food that we waste contributes to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions while 800,000,000 people go hungry. The good news is that the United States, France, and Italy are already taking steps to lessen food waste. This is something that each of us personally can work on by such simple steps as taking home leftovers from a meal out or not letting food get lost in the refrigerator until it spoils.
Number four may be harder to swallow – pun intended. Number four is switching to a plant-based diet. By following a vegetarian diet that includes milk, cheese, and eggs, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 63%. New vegetable-based products that mimic meat are becoming more popular and prevalent, which may help the transition to a nearly meatless diet. A nice side benefit of a vegetarian diet is the estimated one-trillion dollars of savings in healthcare costs.
When we talk of climate crisis, most of us think of the man-made warming that comes from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, and coal to power our cars and produce electricity. This is a big factor, but the cost of solar panels continue to drop, making solar farms the number eight strategy for combating the climate crisis. Electric cars rank number twenty-six in the Drawdown strategies. Many countries are enacting measures to make all vehicles zero-emissions. Norway plans to get there by 2025, as does the Netherlands. India and Germany are aiming for 2030. While a goal date hasn’t been set yet, China is pushing for more electric cars with a $735 million investment to produce more electric vehicles. On September 1, 2017, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard introduced House Resolution 3671: Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. This act will transition the US away from fossil fuel usage to 100% clean energy by 2035.
There are many ways that we can each help contribute to solving the climate crisis, like the simple steps of turning off lights when they’re not needed and changing our eating habits. To make larger changes, we must use our political power to communicate with our elected officials. Call or write to your Representative and Senators and urge them to support H.R. 3671 and any other measures that address the climate crisis. If they don’t agree with the urgency of saving our planet, then use the power of your vote to replace them with someone who will act for the good of all.
Carl Spoerer is that person. He stands with scientists and the supporting data whether people believe that climate change is man made or not. We all want clean air and water; removing protections put in place to keep people and wildlife safe and healthy is not acceptable. Carl believes it takes all of us acting together – workers and entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens, the public and the private sector, to address these challenges.