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borisAtCCL33 karma

This is a common fear. The answer is, no, we are certainly not doomed yet. There is a range of possible outcomes based on a range of human responses to our current level of greenhouse gas emissions. The range can be anywhere from a pretty bad outcome to catastrophic, but we are not guaranteed the worst. If we take no action, the worst outcomes could come to pass. If we do take action and limit the damage, the consequences could be manageable.

borisAtCCL29 karma

There’s been a lot of push for planting more trees. Another interesting example was in Ethiopia where a huge group of people embarked on a 1-day planting project. They planted something like 350 million trees in one day! So, what difference does it make? Deforestation contributes in the ballpark of 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions due to reduction in atmospheric carbon absorption. Stopping deforestation and regrowing trees is helpful, but burning fossil fuels represents more like 60-70% of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Tackling climate change on both of these fronts will be necessary.

Edit: missing word

borisAtCCL23 karma

Something we could do, and this is what Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocates for, is implement a price on carbon pollution with a border carbon adjustment, which would essentially encourage other countries to adopt their own carbon pricing mechanisms to stay competitive and reduce their own emissions. Here’s an analysis from the Washington Post about that concept. Also, here’s a Brookings Institution report about border carbon adjustments by Adele Morris, an economist who also sits on the board of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

But that said, China actually has a higher percentage of power coming from renewable sources. They do have a lot of coal, but they’re also aggressively investing into cleaner sources. They also have over 100 electric vehicle companies in China. One reason they’re so enthusiastic in this regard is because of their horrible air pollution from coal, so for them, the problem is very apparent when people can’t breathe outside safely. Unfortunately, developing economies also tend to weigh coal very heavily. Regardless, their per capita emissions is still less than the US. It’s about on par with Europe, which is about half of what an individual in the US contributes. They are trying to transition away, but it’s challenging in their economic conditions. Nonetheless, they are taking it more seriously than many American leaders are. So, we need to take care of our own house first.

borisAtCCL16 karma

I happen to live in a pretty climate change safe area. I’m in California, so there’s a lot of wildfire risk, but I live in the Sacramento area, where there’s not as much risk. Not in my lifetime do I have to worry about sea level rise. We do have to deal with climate impacts like increased heat, and we get pollution blown in from surrounding wildfires, but overall it’s a pretty safe place to live for the time being, so I don’t have to worry about moving or anything like that.

I do have to worry about what I can do to spur changes and solutions to the problem, though. That’s why I participate in groups like Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I do a lot of local talks around the Sacramento area to educate people about the impacts that are only going to get worse if we don’t solve the problem.

I also do things to reduce my own personal carbon footprint. I drive an electric vehicle. I have solar panels on my home. I try to eat less meat, in particular beef, because there’s a big carbon footprint associated with beef. Basically the whole point of what we’re trying to do with a carbon tax is to reduce the carbon footprint of individuals and entire industries across our economy, so if you’re already reducing your carbon footprint, you’re ahead of the curve.

borisAtCCL13 karma

Building the political will in the US to combat climate change is the most important thing. So, get engaged with a grassroots group, and vote for candidates who prioritize these issues. At least 2 prominent scientists (James Hansen, Katharine Hayhoe) have mentioned joining Citizens’ Climate Lobby and lobbying for major climate legislation as one of the most impactful things individuals can do. It’s critical that the US, being such a huge contributor to CO2 emissions, change course as soon as possible. So contributing to gathering the political will to do this is absolutely essential.