When it comes to Climate Change, ‘It’s too late to reverse it’ is a place I’ve often visited. I observe my behaviors confirming this thinking: I still haven’t purchased a hybrid car. I overlook the drought, running water while I scrub a single potato. I pick up Fuji apples encased in plastic. I plan air travel. On the other hand, I do things to counterbalance my thoughtlessness with conscious attempts to leave a smaller carbon footprint: I bring mesh laundry bags for the leeks I pull from the bins, and I leave the avocados bagless. I launder zip-lock bags, using them over and over. The plastic bag I pulled from the freezer last night contained grilled chicken, but the crossed-out label said “February 2016, flank steak.” It is a measure of change in our household. We rarely eat beef any more. My husband and I got rid of our second car. We ride our bikes for errands, and walk more.
In the back of my mind I’ve wondered what difference these small gestures make. If enough of us employ them, maybe some difference? Notice the question mark.
So after I sat through 3 hours of two climate scientists’ presentations last Friday at Sacramento State, I learned something I didn’t understand before; something that makes me hopeful. A graph showed us that if we act now to meet goals as prescribed by the Paris Agreement, we have a chance. We can, to a significant degree, turn back time. We can’t refreeze glaciers, but we can prevent things from getting worse. If we start now to stop using coal, invest in alternative energy, eat fewer animals and more plants, plant forests, avoid clear cutting trees, build smarter, we can in fact return our atmosphere to a carbon level as it was about 200 years ago, before the industrial revolution…by 2044.
And significant things are happening now. Amazing infrastructure for renewable energy is going up all over the world, including here. California has 10 X the number of jobs in the alternative energy field (about 507,000) than the entire U.S. has in coal jobs (about 51,000). With innovation and political will, the goals for reducing carbon are within reach.
I’d never seen this charted out before. I didn’t get it, that the carbon budget is what gives us the target for reducing carbon emissions. It’s been right in front of me, but I’ve been distracted. It’s been easier to be dubious than to pay attention to positive developments. The arc of possibility changes everything for me. If I am hopeful, it’s much more compelling to try harder to help the planet.
Here’s a link to some of the work of the two presenters I’ve referenced, Dana Nuccitelli and Tom Suchanek, including the helpful graph:
This link below includes action plans, including current legislation: