Is the climate changing or are we?

By Gavin Nordberg

On Tuesday we heard a compelling lecture about the issue of climate change. Bob Deans is the director of the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and he was the one that so graciously gave the speech to us here at The Washington Center. When you listen to Deans talk you can see the passion he has for this issue and the urgentness that is needed to combat it. It’s inspiring on a personal level because for me, I feel like the issue of climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. As a country and as a world we have let this issue fester for far too long. It has gotten to a point where people are starting to get in their mind that there’s no going back. This is dangerous to the present, as well as the future.

As for Bob Deans, he talked a lot about a few different things when it comes to climate change. One, he talked about the warning signs and how we know that climate change is a threat that needs to be addressed. Two, he talked about how he thinks, and the NRDC thinks, people and organizations can fix the issue of climate change. Finally, he talked about how the future of climate change and not just the solutions to it.

For Deans, the signs are there. The facts are there. Leading specialist in climate change agree and acknowledge that climate change is happening. Those specialists include organizations like NOAA, an organization that focuses on the conditions of the atmosphere as well has waterways and oceans. Signs that organizations like NOAA are noticing range anywhere from droughts and fires in California, to major ice caps melting and species vanishing. These are clearly ignored within climate community, and should not be any longer. People still refuse to believe that one of the leading cause of these issues is the release of copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Somewhere close to 97 percent of leading experts and scientists believe that carbon dioxide is to blame, specifically those emissions from burning fossil fuels. According to Deans, the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by roughly 45 percent in the recent years, and that increase is not slowing down. So with the signs clearly making an impact on the world, Deans makes suggestions on how to combat this crisis.

The first way that Deans suggests that we attempt to fix climate change is invest in efficiency. This is the most vague suggestion that he gives and a lot is left up for interpretation. He goes onto explain the second suggestion that is part of the first suggestion. He claims that electric cars are our future, and these are one of the ways that as a nation and a world we can be investing into cleaner and more efficient energy. However, the main part of these two suggestions is the fact that we need to do more with less waste, and Deans touches on that heavily in his lecture. The third suggestion that Deans put forth is the need and ability to use homemade power. This can range anywhere from wind to solar, even to water power. These sources of power would be beneficial to our environment as well as to the economy. It would add jobs and crate revenue, as well as lower the cost of clean energy in the future. A Guardian article suggests another fix to our climate change problem. The bulk of the article talks about how as a country, if we could phaseout all fossil fuel infrastructure, climate change could be kept in check, eventually helping the problem of climate change. This article presented research that suggests that if we were to phase out and replace fossil fuel infrastructure, we would be able to stay under the 1.5 degree of heating the planet has already experienced.

For the future, the scientific community knows plans that will work, and Deans told us this. However, there are more things than just plans that give hope to the world. One of the things that Deans discussed was the fact that the incoming Congress is the most committed and most aware Congress there has ever been when it comes to climate change. He points out that this freshman class understands the threat and they intend to lead on that front whether the rest of the Congress follows them or not. This Congress also understands where the public is at with this issue. According to Gallup, 59 percent of Americans asked said that the environment should be prioritized over energy production. This state comes during the Spring of 2017. In the same article, Gallup presents a table that shows a majority Americans think that more emphasis needs to be placed on forms of clean energy rather than forms of fossil fuel. However, as more and more Americans want and agree with new forms of energy, there is a growing awareness by people that want all these suggestions to happen, but not in their own backyard. The article by Kristy Michaud discusses this at length.

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 11.42.28 pm

Chart of poll numbers from Gallup article

Deans gives a great overview of the issues that we as a world are facing in this day and age, as well as ways to fix that. He also discusses beacons of hope we see in today’s world that shine light on the issue of climate change. Now people are starting to realize the threat of climate change, Congress is starting to reflect the way people feel. However, the way Congress goes about this in the future could be problematic in the eyes of people. Nevertheless, more and more people are realizing the detrimental effects of climate change and the picture of change is being seen.


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