Environment

Will The Growing Number Of Climate Change Believers Make A Difference?

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Will The Growing Number Of Climate Change Believers Make A Difference?

Here’s a dismal prospect: we all learn the dangers of climate change and live greener lives, but it makes no difference in the overall future of the planet in relation to climate change. Doomsayers have been spouting that off as the worst-case scenario for years, some going as far as to state that no matter what we do climate change is inevitable. It’s a favorite argument for taking no action towards climate change, an excuse to keep buying cars with low gas mileage and failing to recycle soda cans.

And news stories abound about the doom of our planet. Salon ran an excerpt from “Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy” by Saskia Sassen (a noted sociology professor) and titled the article “Countdown to Oblivion: The Real Reason We Can’t Stop Global Warming.” Cheerful.

In it’s simplest terms, the article argues that even if we implemented all the standards we currently have under agreement at the moment, the numbers and trends still don’t come out on the optimistic side of things. As everything stands, we’re on track to reach substantial permafrost thaw (9-15% of the top three layers by 2040). As organic matter is released by the thaw that will create more methane and carbon dioxide, which lead to climate change. It seems we’ve already got this particular ball rolling so fast we have no choice but to get out of the way or be crushed by it.

But amid all the doom and gloom there is a ray of hope. Livescience reported that total global carbon emissions stalled in 2014, despite 3% global economic growth for the year. Carbon emissions in the United States have been 10% lower in 2013 and 2014 than they were in 2005. China’s carbon emissions fell 2% in 2014 as the country made more of an effort to look into greener technologies.

But scientists don’t feel they can relax. Carbon in the atmosphere is cumulative and can last up there for hundreds to thousands of years. The amount of carbon dioxide we have in the atmosphere now would take 100 years to decrease by 37%. In fact, to keep the increase of global surface temperature below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, future carbon dioxide emissions can’t go over 1 trillion tons. Another common number floating around is that we have to reduce green house gas emissions by 50% before 2050.

In some ways those depressing numbers are right. If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get where we’ve always been, as the old saying goes. Most arguments state that we’d have to put such a substantial dent in the world’s commerce to achieve the necessary carbon reduction that it would simply never happen.

And it does seem impossible, until you remember all of the green technologies we now have. The most recently noteworthy is the fully electric vehicles, like Tesla’s recent unveiling of the Model 3, which puts fully electric vehicles in the affordable price range for more people. We also have other options like solar power, efficient buildings, hydrogen, forest management, wind power and environmentally friendly farming techniques. And that’s just a small portion of the technology we have now, today. It might not be so much denting and halting world commerce as it is reimagining it.

One common complaint you’ll hear, probably around the family dinner table when the conversation accidentally went there at a holiday event, is that we’re all so puny and the Earth is just so big. There’s no way what we do could possibly matter on an individual level. True. It would be impossible if you tried to save the planet all alone. But there are about 7.4 billion of us. 7.4 billion of us who could become climate change believers and reduce carbon emissions with simple acts like driving fuel-efficient vehicles and buying local produce, not to mention making whole industries more sustainable.

Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. You can find out more about her at https://www.clippings.me/michellelovrine.