The Times, They Are A-changin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
The People’s Climate March in New York City was just one of 2,646 such events in 162 countries around the world.
As an avid follower of science and sustainability news via an increasingly unwieldy collection of RSS feeds, I have been stunned by the events of this past week. I’ll start with one of the more visible news events: The 400,000 folks who participated in the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 21. DeSmogBlog has some amazing photographs from the event, including the one depicted here.
Americans, who have lagged behind most of the rest of the world in comprehending the importance of the climate crisis, are certainly hearing the message: From the multitudes at the climate march to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who boldly stated that, “As an economic matter, the cost of inaction or delay is far greater than the cost of action” on climate change. Lew was joined by former U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson Jr., who echoed, “Climate change poses not just a massive risk to the environment, it’s the single biggest risk to the global economy today.”
Indeed, multiple recent reports highlight our increasing knowledge of the negative economic and environmental effects of climate disruption. The World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin "showed that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide concentrations have increased 42%, 153%, and 21% respectively compared to preindustrial levels. The increase of 2.9 PPM in the CO2 concentrations was apparently more than scientists were expecting from their data on fossil fuel emissions.” Not all of the CO2 stays in the atmosphere; some of it is absorbed by the world’s oceans, whose resulting rapid acidification “appears to be increasing at a level unprecedented in the past 300 million years at least."
Key folks are responding to these calls for action. DeSmogBlog reported that “More than 345 global institutional investors, which represent more than $24 trillion in assets, are calling on governments to put a price on carbon and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.” GreenBiz announced that Nestlé, Kellogg’s join Ceres’ call for federal climate action.
On September 23, the World Resources Institute reported that “Today’s UN Climate Summit brought together more than 125 heads of state and government officials—the largest-ever climate meeting of world leaders.” While some were disappointed that, yet again, a gathering of world leaders failed to result in clear and decisive action, Business Green editor James Murray isn’t worried: “The UN summit provided a useful reminder that the movement in favour of action on climate change is gathering momentum fast, and there is little detractors can do about it.”
As if to add an exclamation point to Murray’s statement above, The Washington Post wrote in The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy: “Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs…. Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy.”
(This is very important, for as CleanTechnica notes, “The world needs to more than double its annual investment in renewable energy by 2030 in order to achieve the target to restrict global rise in temperature of 2ºC by the end of the century.”)
One question remains: Where are all these solar and other clean energy workers going to receive their world-saving training? With degree programs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Ecotech Institute may be the first step for those who want to make a difference. Learn more about Ecotech’s renewable energy programs.
To paraphrase an old saying, the climate march of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Come senators, Congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand at the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability “story teller.” In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.