Climate Change: The Good News, the Bad News, and You

First, the bad news: It’s real. It’s happening now. And the effects are devastating. If people didn’t already get this, nature drove the point home with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria – and record-breaking wildfires in the west.

The good news is that the rest of world is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Norway, India, China, France, Britain, and Germany have plans for phasing out fossil fuel vehicles. New Zealand is committed to zero Carbon emissions by 2050, Sweden aims for 2045, and Norway 2030. And by 2020, China intends to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy.

Here in the U.S., despite the Trump administration’s rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, many cities and states have vowed to work toward its goals. This includes the governors of New York, California, and Washington, and nearly 70 mayors – including Pittsburgh’s own Bill Peduto. Corporations are on board because they recognize that moving away from fossil fuels to renewables is not only necessary to save our planet – it’s smart for business, too:

  • The world’s largest candy company, Mars Corporation, committed $1 billion to wind and solar power and pledged to cut its emissions by 67% by 2050. Mars relies heavily on agriculture and feels the impact of extended droughts and severe storms.
  • Volvo announced that as of 2019, they are responding to consumer demand on stricter emissions regulations in many countries.
  • Hundreds of big American companies backed staying in the Paris Accord, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors, General Electric, Disney, and even Exxon Mobil.

Even utilities are playing a part: They have been phasing out coal-fired power plants because natural gas, solar, and wind energy costs have dropped so dramatically. Jobs in renewable energy are an increasingly significant part of our economy. There are twice as many jobs in solar as in coal mining. Solar jobs are growing 17x faster than the overall economy. And “wind turbine service technician” is forecast to be the fastest growing job category in the U.S. through 2024.

The best news? The U.S. in on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Accord whether Trump wants us to or not. But without a serious investment in renewable energy, our economy is quickly going to be left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.

So what does this mean for you? In the words of Donella Meadows, a pioneering American environmental scientist:

“There is too much bad news to justify complacency.
There is too much good news to justify despair.”

Do what you can in your own life to reduce your impact – start by rethinking your transportation choices and weatherizing your home – and use your power as a citizen to influence political leaders. Our country does not lack the solutions, technology, or resources to fight climate change; it lacks the political will. Tell your elected officials that it is time to end subsidies for and investments in fossil fuels and time to start investing in the industries and jobs of the future. And when elections roll around – vote for people committed to saving our planet.