“In the struggle to solve the Climate Crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place,” believes Al Gore. I think he is right. The world is listening.
As a Climate Reality activist, “you are truly at the front lines of powering the social revolution for climate action,” Al Gore tells all Climate Leaders trained by the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. (my training took place in Chicago in August 2013)
Turning the Corner on Climate Change
The narrative on climate change and global warming is changing in some countries, most notably the United States and China. The US in particular is stepping into a leadership role which is expected to spur action in Europe and Japan and a global push to save the planet.
The March release of the National Climate Assessment together with Obama’s roll-out of a plan to curb carbon emissions from coal power plants by 2030 (to an average of 30 percent less than 2005 levels) are the wake-up call. Climate is back in the national conversation.
Decades of concerted action by environmentalists and climate scientists to ignite a global movement to tackle the effects of global warming have met with only limited success to date. But this is changing, sometimes somewhat imperceptibly, but little by little we are turning the corner on Climate Change.
Why we are turning the corner on climate change
- the IPCC has released three reports in the last nine months confirming the critical challenge facing the world; the third report bluntly exposes the truly alarming consequences of doing nothing. Two findings in particular are the most ominous and daunting ever published by the IPCC: a reduction of up to 70 percent in greenhouse gases are required by 2050 and the world only has 15 years left to bend the emissions curb downward
- the release of the US National Climate Assessment. “The assessment is clear: Not only is climate change a problem in the future, it’s already affecting Americans” said President Obama.
- the realization that we are Running out of Time to solve the climate crisis as reported by the Editorial Board of the New York Times.
The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate
In his recent article in Rolling Stone, The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate, Al Gore highlights how the global community is at a turning point. He remains optimistic and hopeful that “the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided.”
Excerpts from Al Gore’s article:
There is surprising – even shocking – good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries
In the United States, where up to 49 percent of the new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years. An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.
In poorer countries, where most of the world’s people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether.
The cost of wind energy is also plummeting, having dropped 43 percent in the United States since 2009 – making it now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity….the projections in 2000 for annual worldwide wind deployments by the end of that decade were exceeded seven times over, and are now more than 10 times that figure.
The Koch brothers are losing rather badly. In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills.
The fast-growing number of extreme-weather events, connected to the climate crisis, has already had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward global warming. A clear majority of Americans now acknowledge that man-made pollution is responsible. As the storms, floods, mudslides, droughts, fires and other catastrophes become ever more destructive, the arcane discussions over how much of their extra-destructive force should be attributed to global warming have become largely irrelevant.
The U.S. military has taken notice of the strategic dangers inherent in the climate crisis. Last March, a Pentagon advisory committee described the climate crisis as a “catalyst for conflict” that may well cause failures of governance and societal collapse.
Awareness over the climate crisis has reached a tipping point spilling over into action. This trend is irreversible. As an activist, I do not have time or reasons to feel despair or hopelessness. “That’s just another form of denial, paralyzing action,” says Gore. Henry M. Paulson Jr. who served as secretary of the Treasury under President Bush is now distancing himself from the Republican view on climate change. “There is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. We need to act now,” says Paulson in his Climate Bubble Op-Ed published by the NYT.
I feel privileged to be living at at time when the world faces such challenges. In spite of the guilt I feel for being part of a generation which largely ignored the warning signs of the dire effects of global warming, I now believe that I can be part of the solution, trying to make a difference in the war on global warming. If we fail in this colossal endeavor, we will bear the burden of having caused indescribable hardships to future generations of children and grandchildren.
The public at large feels it viscerally now. As Bob Dylan sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”