Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why the Environment should be #1 on the List of Things to be Concerned About

Excerpted from Steve Kirsch's List of "Twenty things every American should know about climate change", below are some of the points he talks about that everyone should know. The problem is big and disaster is not far away.

Sure lots of people know about global warming and even joke about it with all the recent changes in weather. But this is no joke.. Folks aren't as concerned because they think "oh..sure it's a problem but we've got plenty of time".. and of course it doesn't help when our own government doesn't acknowledge the sense of urgency in global climate change and its effects... read below and I encourage everyone to read Steve's List

We have less than 10 years to achieve dramatic reductions
You hear a lot of talk about achieving 80% reductions by 2050. But the reality is that we must act much sooner than that. There is a ecological "tipping point" that scientists believe will occur before 2017. When that tipping point is exceeded, our climate system transitions from a negative feedback system into a positive feedback system. Today, our natural systems act to dampen the amount of CO2 we release by absorbing a good fraction of it. But as the earth becomes hotter, these systems break down and will start contributing to making things worse instead of better. If we do not make dramatic progress within the next 10 years, then climate change becomes a runaway train, beyond our ability to control it. This will not be easy. Today, worldwide emissions are increasing at a faster rate than at any point in history. We don't have a lot of time. The deeper and faster we cut our emissions over the next 10 years, the better.

We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 90% ASAP and get other countries to do the same
The best way to minimize the impacts of climate change is to make the reductions as soon as we can. It's also cheaper to act sooner. The Stern Review pointed out that it is twenty times less expensive to avoid the impacts of climate change than to pay the price of dealing with it. So what are we waiting for? The sooner we make the cuts here, the sooner we can encourage other developed nations to follow our lead. In general, the deeper we cut now, the less it will cost us later. If we could cut our emissions to zero tomorrow, that would provide the greatest benefit. But that is not practical. However, a 90% reduction in less than 30 years is possible to achieve. We cannot continue to take the position "if other countries don't cut, we won't either." We must be a world leader and set an example for others to follow. If they do not, we must work very hard to ensure that they do. Failure is not an option.

Incremental improvements won't get us there
Baby steps won't get us there in time. Incremental efficiency gains won't get us there in time. Instead of thinking of how we can improve fuel efficiency by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years, we should instead be asking ourselves how can we can improve by over 100 miles per gallon in less than 5 years. We can do this with plug-in hybrids. It will not be easy. But we have the technology to do this. In 1941, we completely re-tooled our automotive plants in less than 12 months. We could do it then. We can do it now.
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