Global warming is destroying species, raising sea levels and threatening millions of poor people, the United Nations' top scientific panel will say today in a report that U.N. officials hope will help mobilize the world into taking tougher actions on climate change.Your humble blogger was asked to open the event. I detailed both the threats to the very waterfront we were standing on and the vast, so far untapped possibilities that could slash our carbon emissions.
The report argues that only firm action, including putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, will avoid more catastrophic events. Those actions will take a small part of the world's economic growth but will be substantially less than the costs of doing nothing, the report will say.
Relative sea levels have risen a foot in the Chesapeake Bay over the last century, a combination of higher water and subsidence, the same phenomenon that left Lousiana so vulnerable to Katrina. Already, the Bay has lost 13 islands to the rising tide, and according to the National Wildlife Federation, relative sea levels are expected to rise another 22 inches over the next 93 years, as I'm demonstrating here. Oh, this would also be a good time to mention the NET had us wear life preservers to emphasize the threat of rising water.
But there's reason to believe we can curb the worst effects of global warming by dramatically reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. How? A combination of renewable energy, higher efficiency, and better technology. And a surprise boost has come from Hillary Clinton's strong words on renewable energy on the presidential campaign trail:
"We are now more dependent on foreign oil than we were on 9/11," Clinton said. "We are basically at the mercy of all these oil-producing regimes ... that all too often use that money against us.There's no silver bullet to solve the climate change problem, but there is, as we say in the NWF's hunter and angler outreach, silver buckshot - a series of solutions that can add up to get us to cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050, the minimum scientists say is needed to curb the worst effects of global warming. It was fantastic to see the Democratic Party's presidential frontrunner recognize that we've left such obvious low-hanging fruit unpicked.
"We have all this empty federal land in Nevada. It should be packed with wind turbines and solar panels," she said.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Paul Burman (seen at right in the orange vest) closed the event detailing CCAN's efforts to block Dominion Virginia Power's planned coal-fired power plant in Wise County. If you believe some sort of levy on carbon emissions is coming, as virtually everyone does, then why would you invest $1.6 billion ratepayer dollars in a form of energy that's currently low-cost but is certain to get much more expensive in the future? Regardless of your feelings about the environment, it makes no economic sense.
You can check out a clip of my talk on YouTube and a full photo gallery of the event over on Flickr!
Cross-posted from Raising Kaine