the challenge of our lifetime
(and many lifetimes to come if we don't act decisively and soon)
Key actions - starting close at home and moving out
Our planet needs some greenhouse gases surrounding it to hold in the sun’s energy. That’s why the average temperature on earth is in the mid-50’s F rather than 0 F. But adding too much of these same gases is like putting too many blankets on the bed at night – things start to heat up.
That’s what we’ve been doing for the past 250 years, with fully half the extra blankets added just over the past few decades. Check out this page for more information on all this, but suffice it to say we need to act drastically and soon to avert planetary disaster.
Check out David Radcliff's videotaped summary of climate change features, causes,
consequences and solutions. -->
This not-so-gradual (compared to historic precedents) warming is bringing heat waves,
droughts, floods, Arctic blasts, disruption of the oceanic ecosystem, and all their
companions: food insecurity, conflict, wider-ranging diseases, the displacement of people
and other living things, the deaths of moose calves from tick infestations. See photos and
facts-on-the-ground from NCP partner areas in this album.
“It’s worse – much worse – than you think.” – David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth, first sentence (here's a summary of his book)
Climate change & CV-19
Of course, the same thing could have been said about COVID-19 in its early days - that it, too, was much worse than many thought. And similarly, postponing action has devastating long-term consequences.
As this virus has circled the globe, there are direct connections to the globe-circling crisis of climate change. There are actually positive climate consequences of this pandemic. In the months after the outbreak, China released 25 percent less CO2 (and lots less particulate pollution – which kills about 1 million Chinese annually) than is normal for the world’s largest air polluter, as travel and industry slowed. Globally, airlines emit around 1 billion tons of CO2 per year; fewer flights equal less pollution. US’ers drove a record 3.3 trillion miles last year, producing 1.6 billion tons of CO2 (US emissions from all sources: 5.2 billion tons). Less driving lowers this output. And the havoc raised by destroying forests in pursuit of exotic animals - the genesis of CV-19 - may lead to conservation of carbon-storing trees.
Clincher #1 CV-19 is having a huge impact on our economy and our health, but climate change could cost 10 percent of GDP annually in the USA by 2100, displace millions due to sea level rise, and lead to thousands of premature deaths every year due to extreme heat. And it will be much worse in poor countries: India could see more than 1 million heat-related deaths a year by 2100 with a 4°C rise.
Clincher #2 The reductions above get us headed toward where we need to be to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. The best science says we need a 55 percent overall reduction in current levels of CO2 emissions to avoid famine, pestilence and general climate chaos by the end of this century (UN).
The question: how do we normalize our recent behaviors to corral climate change?
Shelter at home: reduce pleasure travel; plan trips to combine errands; petition to work from home
End social distancing: seek meaning in relationships and nature close-at-hand rather than in consumables from afar; join others in local and national climate change campaigns & engage friends, school, church
Wash your hands (aka protect natural areas): keep CV-19-like diseases at bay by curbing deforestation. NCP’s new initiative in the Ecuadorian Amazon will work with the Kichwah people to transition from extraction to protection of their rain forest home – our new Million Tree Campaign supports this effort. Donate!
- Back to climate change -
Crops planted by these Malawian farmers were washed away by cyclone- and monsoon-related flooding, leaving them without food and income. D. Radcliff photo 2019
The last time the temperature rose by 5 degrees Celsius (11 F) “ended with all but a sliver of life on earth dead.” Wallace-Wells (currently, it’s 1.1 C hotter than the historic norm, with a rise of 5 C within the realm of possibility in the coming century)
As it was human activity, coupled first with ignorance and now with arrogance and deadly nonchalance, that made the earth’s climate turn on us, it is humans who can – and must – turn it in the other direction.
NCP Sustainable Living Centers in VA and VT play all the right climate keys: food, energy, transportation, legislation - and have a good time doing it!
Want to turn down the heat? Start close by - but don't stop there!
Home (here's our personal CO2 calculator with points for bad and good behaviors)
What we eat (lower on the food chain, closer to home, beans replace beef)
How we get around (every mile we drive typically emits a pound of CO2 into the atmosphere)
The size of our dwellings and how energy efficient they are
How much stuff we consume (it takes energy to make stuff, and a lot of it is shipped from abroad)
Lawn size (mowing = 25 million tons of CO2 per year in USA)
Challenge your school, congregation or other group to take climate change seriously; invite NCP staff to stop in for a workshop - we're cheap, knowledgeable and occasionally funny :)
By your own lifestyle show others that a good life can be had without sacrificing a livable future
Advocate for local systems to be climate-friendly: bike lanes, ride-share, farmers markets
Call for legislation to support carbon taxes, green energy and other policies to reduce fossil fuel emissions
Oppose more drilling and fracking
Support NCP’s If a Tree Falls… program doing reforestation around the world
Get your school, club or congregation involved in our Million Tree Campaign
Educating girls and empowering women are two of the top ten recommendations for reducing climate change from the book Drawdown – do both through our Give a Girl a Chance fund
Join campaigns to protect tropical forests, limit palm oil production, empower native people
Go on our Learning Tours to the Amazon, Arctic and Dine reservation in NM to support native communities as they protect the environment and battle the extractive industries