As 2018 ends, our climate expectations are complicated and uncertain. For me, after working and volunteering on climate awareness and solutions for 15 years, my outlook has improved.
In July I woke up and said, “Maybe we’re not doomed!” How about you?
This fall’s big reports — the IPCC 1.5°C Report, National Climate Assessment, and Arctic Report Card — confirm that the effects of climate change are all around us. They say get ready for ever worsening climate-influenced extreme weather.
Two bookend events, September’s Global Climate Action Summit and December’s COP24 international conference, show strong global commitments to achieve the Paris Agreement's goals — even as we recognize how far we are from being on track.
In contrast, the National Academy of Sciences Negative Emissions Technologies report previews many natural and technical solutions we’ve barely begun to evaluate or demonstrate. They point to the idea that we can actually solve climate change.
Meanwhile, 15-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden inspired global student walkouts, when she said, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”
Now we’re seeing thrilling headlines from passionate and strategic small groups including (alphabetically) the Climate Mobilization, Extinction Rebellion, and the Sunrise Movement. At last, people are standing up to say they’re putting their own lives on the line. They’re asking their communities, leaders, and countries to recognize we’re in a climate emergency and finally end business as usual.
We hope soon that activists in these groups — and in larger more established organizations — will start to spread the word about hopeful solutions to actually restore our climate. They’ll help us imagine going beyond avoiding the worst consequences we’re now heading for. They might dare to ask and work for what we all really want — a safe, just, and flourishing world!
The next step is for the Green New Deal for the incoming U.S. Congress, whose message and calls are still being shaped, to go far beyond getting off fossil fuels and protecting communities at risk. It can show how millions of us can ensure our future health and build our prosperity. Could such a message even be nonpartisan? Looking to 2020, we’ll be able to ask every candidate and incumbent to commit to actions for a healthy climate.
Those are the big global and national stories. Back home, California can continue to break new ground on climate solutions. Could we see a Central Valley Carbon Project?
I take heart locally from the multitudes of people working on climate change. And from an emerging community centered on reversing global warming, and restoring our climate. It gained credibility and momentum from Drawdown, which incubated here. Now I”m strategic advisor to a new organization, the Healthy Climate Alliance (HCA), that focuses entirely on those goals.
And a diverse “carbontech” ecosystem is creating projects and building businesses to remove carbon. At its center is Manylabs, with over 1,000 people in its Emerging Climate Technology Meetup group, and hundreds sharing information on Slack. Manylabs hosts HCA’s Bay Area Climate Restoration Initiatives directory, highlighting dozens of projects, organizations, and companies where people are getting started to draw down carbon. We’re inviting very successful entrepreneurs to see restoring our climate as their most compelling startup opportunity ever.
Ask climate activists, entrepreneurs, public and private thought-leaders, and many will tell you we’re at a turning point. Hope is the missing ingredient. It will make all the difference. It will fuel our heartfelt urgency, not with fear, dread, and desperation, but with happy visions of a climate restored to health.
Photo by Chris Gill, WestBoundary Photography/Unsplash