Last year I wrote my first blog entitled “Why” which outlined my reasons for taking new steps (at least for me) to “save our planet one choice at a time.” With the help and technical support of my daughter, and inspirations from so many others, I was able to share weekly reports of what I was doing, and why, as well as other things I was learning about the status and prospects of our environment. Chiefly this involved global warming and pollution – separate but linked issues.
I was inspired by a book my son gave me by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, which was truly eye opening. Since then, I’ve read several other books and articles that reinforce the need for us to be alarmed about what we humans are doing to adversely change the environment we live in. The most significant ones were Falter, Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben, and The Uninhabitable Earth – Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells. Given our current trends, both of these books paint a pretty gloomy future for us and more significantly, for our children and their children. These books are eye opening and recommended reading. If you’re not ready to take on a book, a New Yorker November, 2018 article, How Extreme Weather is Shrinking the Planet by McKibben, is a much shorter read but a good synopsis of where we are and how we got here. It’s hard for these messages to be ignored. But as much as these writings set off alarm bells, they also offer promise if, and only if, society makes significant changes in the way we do things – in the choices we make to destroy, or save our planet. It’s not too late, but time is running out. The longer we postpone significant changes, the worse it will get and the more difficult for us to recover. In September, 2019, McKibben wrote an article for Time Magazine in which he described how the U.S. might avoid the worst of climate change as seen in the year 2050. The title of the article is Hello from the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change – But Everything is Different. This is an optimistic and futuristic “how-we-could” save our planet, but even then, things will be different.
So, it’s with this backdrop I decided to continue writing this year about climate change and pollution – what we’re doing, and what can be done. I can make daily choices to reduce my carbon footprint and by sharing my experiences, I just might influence a few more people to do the same. I am hopeful this movement continues to evolve and accelerates, and, we might just be able to turn the corner on our collective destructive tendencies.
Last year, 2019, there was progress on some fronts including significant growth in renewable energy. In April 2019, Deloitte reported renewable energy outpaced coal by providing 23 percent of US power generation, compared to coal’s 20 percent share. In the first half of 2019, wind and solar together accounted for approximately 50 percent of total US renewable electricity generation, displacing hydroelectric power’s dominance. Additionally, the voices of protestors (e.g., Extinction Rebellion) coupled with the actual realization by the public that things were getting worse, fueled increase attention by political leaders. More and more people are becoming aware.
Overall, however, in 2019, the status of the planet worsened. A recent article reported that Earth is now the warmest it’s been in some 120,000 years. Eighteen of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record. And concentrations of carbon dioxide — a potent greenhouse gas — are the highest they’ve been in millions of years. And it’s continuing to get worse. A New York Times story released in December, 2019, reported that scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany warned that the acceleration of ice loss and other effects of climate change have brought the world “dangerously close” to abrupt and irreversible changes, or tipping points.
So obviously, more needs to be done, more people need to make changes. Maybe I’m a bit like Don Quixote – an aging man charging ahead on an important mission against overwhelming odds, but nevertheless, committed to succeeding. At least for me, the windmills are real and they are part of a better future – generating energy from the wind – and not some group of magical giants to be destroyed.
Thanks for participating with me in my journey.