Global WarmingGlobal warming is one of the most serious challenges facing us today. To protect the health and economic well-being of current and future generations, we must reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases by using the technology, know-how, and practical solutions already at our disposal.
deforestation is the largest source of emissions for many developing
countries, but slowing deforestation can’t solve the climate problem by
itself. As forest-rich developing countries step up to take
responsibility for reducing their emissions, all industrialized nations
should not only support their efforts but, most importantly, reduce
their own emissions and lead efforts to avert dangerous climate change.
years we have heard so much about the causes of climate change, that
we’ve missed the fact that there are simple, practical solutions that
can slow this growing problem. Technologies exist today that can cut
emissions of heat-trapping gases and make a real difference in the
health of our planet. And these solutions will be good for our economy,
reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and enhance our energy security.
warming doesn’t just mean balmy February days in northern climes. It
also means increasingly hot days in the summer, and a host of negative
impacts that are already under way and are expected to intensify in the
-More heat waves will likely increase the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths.
-Cities and towns along the nation’s major rivers will experience more severe and frequent flooding.
-Some areas will likely experience more extensive and prolonged droughts.
of our favorite coastal and low-lying vacation areas, such as parts of
the Florida Keys and Cape Cod, will be much less appealing as sea levels
rise, dunes erode, and the areas become more vulnerable to coastal
-Many families and businesses, who have made their living
from fishing, farming, and tourism could lose their livelihoods, and
others who love hunting, boating, skiing, birdwatching, and just
relaxing near lakes, streams, and wetlands will see some of their
favorite places irretrievably changed.
The solutions to climate
change are here and it’s time we put them to use. If we get started
today we can tackle this problem and decrease the unpleasant outcomes
that await us if we do nothing. The steps we need to take are common
sense. And, more often than not, they will save consumers money. The
cost of inaction, however, is unacceptably high.
consensus is in. Our planet is warming, and we are helping make it
happen by adding more heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide
(CO2), to the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuel (oil, coal, and
natural gas) alone accounts for about 75 percent of annual CO2 emissions
from human activities. Deforestation—the cutting and burning of forests
that trap and store carbon—accounts for about another 20 percent.
is not an option. Scientists agree that if we wait 10, 20, or 50 years,
the problem will be much more difficult to address and the consequences
for us will be that much more serious.
We’re treating our
atmosphere like we once did our rivers. We used to dump waste
thoughtlessly into our waterways, believing that they were infinite in
their capacity to hold rubbish. But when entire fisheries were poisoned
and rivers began to catch fire, we realized what a horrible mistake that
Our atmosphere has limits too. CO2 remains in the atmosphere
for about 100 years. The longer we keep polluting, the longer it will
take to recover and the more irreversible damage will be done.
vehicles. Renewable energy. Protecting threatened forests. These common
sense solutions won’t only reduce global warming, many will save us
money and create new business opportunities.
Best of all, these
solutions exist now. We just need to insist that business and government
take the necessary steps to make them available and affordable. Then we
have to let consumers know what to do and provide incentives to help
all of us make better choices.
The following five sensible steps
are available today and can have an enormous impact on the problem CO2
remains in the atmosphere for about 100 years.