All of the Above

Guitars

If you’re like me, every time you go inside a music store you want to play all the guitars. Even when I couldn’t play a chord, I still wanted to play them all!

When contemplating what we can do in the face of dramatic climate changes, there are numerous paths we individuals can take. In fact, knowing the seemingly impossible task of turning our Titanic of a civilization around with each of its depleting systems, and yet seeing the options before us and the headway of change already begun, leaves me feeling more energized and optimistic than ever. Seeing the beast before us, we can slay it! True, we are in an allegory of David and Goliath, but you know who wins that battle.

On the ground, other battles are being waged. Hurricane Irma has devastated the Caribbean and is beginning to unleash her fury on the U.S. as Floridians have evacuated in mass. All this while the full scope of tragedy has only recently taken shape with Hurricane Harvey leaving Houston literally submerged, with at least 70 fatalities and estimates of over $150 billion in damage. If there is any consolation, and there is not much, it’s that while old-school energy production was shut down or shuttered for days or weeks, renewable energy like wind kept on producing, albeit with some issues and under treacherous circumstances.

These storms make the clear case that a focus on resiliency is key. Resiliency is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned, and it begs for an “all of the above” energy strategy. By diversifying our energy supply while ultimately relying less and less on fossil fuels, provides us with the greatest security in cases of severe weather and other cataclysmic events such as war, earthquakes, and the like.

Where each of us can make a difference, is in a similar “all of the above” strategy when it comes to the many solutions available to sequester and reduce heat-trapping emissions. Individually, we just need to choose one or more areas where we feel the most passionate or where we can make the greatest impact. Then collectively and working in parallel, we can solve the climate crisis. The obvious benefit is in restoring the world’s environmental balance, and leaving a hopeful future for our children.

If you love cars, why not join the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) revolution in your area? Or if you’re a foodie, why not incorporate more plant-rich meals in your diet and learn about the plethora of ways to improve food supply and the reduction of waste? If you’re a mom or care about the health and welfare of women and girls, why not get involved in education programs that lay foundations for girls in underdeveloped areas to live happy fulfilled lives? The list of solutions truly goes on and on, and it’s all about finding the area where you can get involved.

In a world that is changing all around us like never before, creating a foreboding sense of uncertainty and anxiety, this list of Solutions from Project Drawdown is an exciting, provocative, and important remedy and resource that should inspire you and others to be part of the global warming solution. So why not consider today the area where you will make your biggest contributions?

BGVillage_momanddaughter
Mother and daughter: Boys & Girls Village, Connecticut

If you’re new to Sustainability X, welcome! We will present solutions to the climate change crisis over the coming weeks and months, and how you can get involved. Please join our movement and follow us by clicking the “FOLLOW” link in the footer below!

 

Hurricanes and Hand Grenades

Hurricane-Harvey-839057514.0Photo of Hurricane Harvey by NOAA via Getty Images, August 25,2017

You don’t have to be too close to the eye of the storm to experience the wrath of a hurricane. Hurricane Harvey made landfall yesterday as the first category 4 hurricane to hit the United States since 2004, and continues to wreak havoc on the Great State. If you have family or friends living in Texas as I do, we can only hope they prepared or evacuated.

Two things are for certain, human-related activities have contributed to warmer seas and sea level rise, which in the first case contributes to more intense storms and hurricanes, and in the second, higher sea levels increase the volume of water in storm surges. So while hurricanes are not known to be caused by global warming, their impacts are known to become worse from it.

But how will global warming impact you personally?  “Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. New data released by the Yale Program on Climate Communication gives the most detailed view yet of public opinion on global warming.”

Texas-Personal_impact_of_global_warming2017

The above chart shows that more than half of people in Texas believe global warming will impact them in their lives; but I wonder now, in the wake of this horrible storm if that percentage has gone up. Sending our thoughts and prayers to all those people living through Hurricane Harvey tonight. To support disaster relief efforts, please visit the American Red Cross.

If you’re new to Sustainability X, welcome!  We will present solutions to the climate change crisis over the coming weeks and months, and how you can get involved. Please join our movement and follow us by clicking the link below!

Project Drawdown

Solar-eclipse-2017

Today’s solar eclipse provides a stellar example of how we humans are connected with the universe and our environment, and demonstrates how fortunate we are to have accumulated such cosmic knowledge and awesome predictive power. Scientists can tell us precisely when the moon will begin and end blocking the sun and exactly where it will happen. As science’s predictive power relates to climate change, well, if you are still wondering, the jury is also out.

The good news is that in spite of the doom and gloom predictions, there are both significant market movements towards a clean energy future and pathways we humans can take to stabilize the warming atmosphere.

In layman’s terms the problem is that heat-trapping gases produced by human activities have accumulated in the thin atmosphere that has previously contained enough heat-trapping gases to keep our planet warm as it glides through frigid space. Once released, much of the heat-trapping gases stay present for decades. So the challenge is not just capping our current release of these gases, but in removing the gases that have been released decades ago.

Where do we begin thinking of actions we can take to help solve our climate change crisis? Certainly, the advice we receive about everyday steps we can take are valuable, such as recycling, taking shorter showers, eating less meat, etc., but compared with the seemingly overwhelming problem (human-related activities release over 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent [CO2e] every second), these steps may leave you feeling a bit hopeless. And in fact, if we took only these steps, we would just be kidding ourselves and not addressing the problem at hand: removing CO2e from the atmosphere.

Fortunately, there is a better way, and a working group with many researchers and headed by Paul Hawken has determined significant focus and solution areas. The initiative (and book) is called Project Drawdown. “Drawdown maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. For each solution, we describe its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world.”

You will hear much more from me about Project Drawdown, specifically as our site delves into many of the solution areas. Here they are listed in order of their potential capability to draw down and reduce CO2e from the atmosphere.

Capture

 

The Awakening

Unless you were sleeping, the world has been divided into people who are part of the climate change solution and everyone else. More bluntly, you are either part of that solution or part of the global warming problem. It wasn’t always like that; that is, most of us were very content living in our own worlds with an ignorance is bliss perspective. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, so we went about being good global citizens by being, first of all, good human beings. We would help and not hurt others, take care of our families and communities, and we lived with the values our parents and faiths instilled in us.

But one day recently we awoke to a new reality. It likely may have started like a hazy vague notion that something in our world was not quite right – out of balance. That feeling turned into a dull ache or an intermittent uncomfortable or painful feeling upon hearing an unsettling story or news afflicting our friends, family, and the environment: a farmer enmeshed in persistent drought, a friend engulfed in the floodwaters of a hurricane, a cousin concerned about the rapid decline of the honeybee, and your child heartbroken about the portent extinction of the polar bear.

That feeling wouldn’t go away. It only grew larger and larger into a sort-of hopeless realization that our way of life has been put in jeopardy caused by forces seemingly out of our control. This crisis felt like it snuck up on us because it seems so incomprehensible, its scale beyond our human capacity to measure. Since our individual responses seem so inconsequential, so ineffective, we just chose to ignore the chatter, the now false debate occurring over climate change. The truth is that, unfortunately, global warming has been a known phenomena, and human induced causes have been occurring since the Industrial Age.

The question now is, after you’ve taken that deep breath, become aware of the crisis before us, and truly realized its severity: are you part of the solution or are you part of the problem?