Catastrophic Climate Change:
If You Leave the Hard Work to Others, It Won't Get Done.
What Matters to You?
Does a safer, survivable world matter to you? Do you have children or grandchildren to want to provide for?
If so, what is more important than a survivable future for you to leave to them as your personal legacy?
In their minds and memory, who do you want to be? How will you make that happen?
Things You Can Fix - Setting Priorities
What do you want to achieve? What resources are you willing to commit to making the things you want happen?
Are you looking to start where you will get the 'biggest bang for your buck'? Or do you want to ease into
making changes without making dramatic changes to your lifestyle? Do you want to start with things which
will save you money while also saving the world? Answering these questions will help you set your priorities.
How about planting a tree in your yard? As the tree grows, it will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,
converting the carbon into plant mass and releasing the oxygen into the air. But, it can do more. If you plant
a deciduous tree (one that sheds it leaves in the autumn) in front of a big window on the sun-facing side of
the house, you can reduce the heating effect of the sun (solar gain) in the summer, reducing your air-cooling
costs. The leaves can be composted and used as fertilizer. The bare branches in winter can allow the solar
gain to occur in the winter, reducing your heating bill. If you're not an expert on trees, talk to one before
planting one. That way, they can tell you what sort of tree will do well in your climate, won't grow too big for
your yard, won't cause problems for your foundation, and what you should do to make sure it survives and thrives.
When I suggest planting a tree, most people shrug and some ask "What difference will one tree make?" Quite a lot,
actually. First, it means YOU are doing SOMETHING. Perhaps that will later lead you to doing something else.
Second, you are setting an example, and perhaps someone else may plant another tree. Which may lead others to
do something, and then the impact becomes cumulative. Perhaps you think even planting a lot of trees won't
make much of a difference. However, some historical analysis suggests that
growing a lot of trees made a very
big difference indeed in the past few hundred years. Perhaps we are smarter now, and could obtain the same
benefit without the cost of millions of human lives. Or do nothing and wait for catastropic climate change to
There are so many aspects of our lives where we can make a difference, if we stop long enought to
think them through. Instead of just accepting the easiest thing on offer (i.e. do the same thing again),
consider other options from a climate change / energy use perspective. It's in everything we do. Here's an
example we went through, not even originally thinking about a climate change action connection.
Think you might need to replace your roofing before long? Could you use longer-lived metal roofing instead of
asphalt shingles (made from oil products)? Perhaps metal which is made from recycled material, reducing the
energy used to make the roofing (and probably the price)? How about the colour? Could you go with a light
colour, which will reduce heat absorption in the summer, and reflect more sunlight back into the sky instead
of converting it into infra-red energy (heat)? Could you use a roofing material which includes insulation,
keeping outside summer heat out and indoor heat in through the winter? Or could you make a big leap and
include photovoltaic panels (solar electricity) into your new roof, reducing your future electricity bills?
It's your ToDo List, so you have to figure out what goes on it and why. Perhaps you can find some
inspiration on this list of things which can help fix climate change.
We have the technologies to make this work. The problem is political will. Looking to our 'leaders',
one thing we seem to have in infinite quantities is political "won't power".
The solution-deniers will misdirect you with the price of implementation. Their figures are
typically misleading as they ignore two critical factors.
1) Most of these costs will be incurred anyway as infrastructure, housing, buildings and vehicles are
repaired or replaced in the normal economic cycle.
2) Costs of doing something have to be considered in the context of losses we will incur if we do
nothing and allow catastrophic climate change to continue to accelerate. The insurance industry
is well aware of these risks, and increasingly are canceling insurance policies for flooding and
So what's the big plan? Start working now to address climate change, and aggressively.
A) Reduce energy consumption via efficiency and conservation. The
IEA says that efficiency would cut
consumer energy bills by more than US$500 billion annually and, by 2040, provide 40% of the GHG reductions the
world needs to meet Paris Agreement commitments. So there's the first 40%. Save money and the human race.
Seems like a no-brainer.
B) Shift away from greenhouse-gas (GHG) emitting energy sources to non-emitting sources like
solar heating, solar electric generation, wind power, hydro, ground-source heating and cooling, etc.
Drive this change by removing subsidies on GHG-emitting energy sources, AND charging a fee on
GHG emissions. No permits based on existing bad behaviour. In the area of transportation,
focus on shifting to plug-in vehicles and biofuels, especically fuels made from waste materials.
C) Start implementing technologies which remove GHGs from the atmosphere, like trees and fast-growing
plants which have beneficial use, like hemp for making fabric.
D) Stop pretending that CO2 capture and storage (primarily for use by the oil and gas industry
to produce more GHG-emitting fuels) is the same as sequestration, and falling for the other misdirection
tactics of the fossil fuel industries.