early retirement, happiness, and the universe

The Greatest Problem That We're Not Discussing: Climate Change

Based on my own selective exposure to popular media (reddit, HN, news sites, television shows, facebook, movies), I’ve observed that climate change is not discussed often.

Given the seriousness of our situation, I’m dumbfounded that we’re not all talking about climate change on a daily basis. The overwhelming, unwavering amount of evidence continually mounts each year. Without a doubt, global warning is occurring primarily due to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Human activity is the primary reason for these increased concentrations of CO2, and the extinction of massive amounts of species is expected to occur, as well as droughts, floods, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and extreme weather patterns that will continually increase in both intensity and frequency.

I do not desire to fear monger, but to realize the seriousness of the situation, I feel some people need to be shaken with the reality of what the future holds. From the best we can predict, things we take for granted: easy access to fresh water and food - will become world issues, leading to famine and starvation - resulting in death, war, injustice and human suffering. The socio-economic costs will be staggering.

From my research, it seems that there are two primary steps that humans must take to address the situation we’ve created:

  • Immediately implement aggressive cap and trade legislation. Environmental externalities (especially green house gas emissions) are not currently priced into “economic” decisions being made by people or businesses. The expensive costs of environmental damage caused by greenhouse gases are currently being deferred and this future cost burden is thrust upon the public. Cap and trade systems are complex and far from perfect - however - it seems to be the best tool we have towards effectively pricing the deferred costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Immediately implement massive government investment programs which would drive our economy towards the goal of being carbon negative. Power grid development, conservation education for the public, battery technology, bio energy, wind energy , solar energy, nuclear energy - we need every possible tool in our toolbox to address this problem.

How do we accomplish the above? I’m not exactly sure. There are many obstacles to overcome. But logic tells me that talking about climate change on frequent basis, discussing how pressing the situation is, educating others, and doing our best to influence the political system is a start.

Mailing elected political representative(s) a letter voicing concern would also be a good first step - which we should all consider a minimum.

Note: If anyone reading this is not totally convinced that climate change is legit, I beg you to dedicate the next 10 minutes to research the issue. Do not be embarrassed, as we all didn’t know at some point. I recommend you start at the wikipedia entry: Climate Change