Saving the World (Really!)

Responsible U.S. Citizen

I’ve never thought of myself as a political activist.  Growing up overseas (I lived in Japan and Thailand for about five years when I was between 5 and 11 years old.  From that perspective, I felt strongly that I was a patriot; proud to be an American.  I felt that we Americans were the “good guys” and “send in the Marines” meant help – people who would defend you and who you could trust – was on the way.

Turns out life is just a bit more complicated than my 11-year-old self thought.

I still think I’m a patriot.  I still believe that the United States and our values, overall, are good.  It’s just that sometimes, we have trouble standing up for those values.  It turns out that some American’s look at the same words I read, and some away with radically different meanings.  And – big problem these days – it turns out that money from big businesses and wealthy individuals – has an outsized influence over U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

Example A: Climate Change

Anthropomorphic climate change is a fact: human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, fluorocarbons and other gasses are altering the composition of the atmosphere and changing the climate.  Even the most ardent climate science denialists have pretty much stopped denying that change is occurring.  Now, aided and abetted by the angertainment industry and by “news” and other information funded by fossil fuel interests, the people trying to delay action to address climate change are making other claims. 

They talk about uncertainty, for example.  Climate science can’t tell exactly what is going to happen, so, they argue, “do nothing.”  In reality, the uncertainly is only about how bad things will get for the climate – really bad, awful, or cataclysmic.

Maybe the overall impact of climate change will be good, they say.  Plants use CO2 to grow – that could be better for the world, they suggest.  Problems: scientific research at places like the University of Iowa show that increased CO2 levels combined with higher temperatures reduce crop yields.  Problem is semi-arid places like the Middle East can become unlivable, further exacerbating the kinds of refugee crises we are seeing in Europe today. Problem is – little problem – sea level change. We’re looking at 8 feet of change in by the end of this century, according to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report. (But there is uncertainly – so it could be less – or it could be more. And in response, the politicians in charge in DC today propose to cut NOAA’s budget. )

Climate Reality Presentations

I attended the three-day Climate Reality training program in Denver, CO, in March of 2017.  Al Gore headed a distinguished group of academic, scientific, industry and political figures who led training sessions on climate change and methods for communicating about climate change to general audiences.

My academic background include an MFA in Dramatic Arts.  I worked in academia for several years before going into journalism.  I’ve has been a writer for newspapers, advertising agencies and marketing departments. At the end of my professional career, I worked as an information technology specialist, working in desktop computer support, networking, SQL programming and database management.

While I am not a climate scientist, I believe I offer this background qualifies me to provide a well-organized overview of an extremely complex subject, communicate the information effectively and suggest a reasonable path forward.

Climate Change: 2017 Update

This presentation draws on the graphics related materials used by Nobel Laureate Al Gore for his Climate Reality presentations. The program will offer a global perspective and end with a focus on local opportunities for action.

Here is the ground we will be covering:

  • Global Warming. (Spoiler alert: We’ve understood the science behind the greenhouse effect and greenhouse gasses for nearly 200 years. Global warming is real, it’s happening and the effects will have a significant impact on life on our home – planet Earth.)
  • Climate and Ecology: How life on earth is being affected by global warming/climate change from heat waves and flooding to refugee crises.
  • Renewable Energy: What’s happening in the US and the world. The leadership challenge.
  • Call to Action: Thinking globally, acting locally – at home, in towns, counties, the state and regionally.

The challenges presented by human-caused global warming/climate change are immense.  They are NOT insurmountable.  As you will see in this presentation, resourceful people have already made tremendous progress along the path to a sustainable future for humanity.  As an additional benefit, that sustainable future can also be more equitable and beneficial to people around the world.

There is a great deal of uncertainty involved estimating the impact of climate change.  Concerned climate scientists could be wrong. Continuing greenhouse gas emissions might have a smaller impact on the planet than their projections indicate. Or the impact could be much, much worse.

Speaking of uncertainty vs. certainty, here is one certainty. There is no Planet B.