2009 Challenge: Climate crisis epiphany

As I watched “the most important meeting in human history” last week, I decided that the COP15* would be a good topic for The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. More specifically, seeing this chart (below) about global warming triggered an “aha! moment” for me. Over the past couple of years, the majority of scientists have come to a consensus on realistic numbers indicating the human impact on climate change. Here is my brief attempt to make sense of what’s going on and what we can do about it.

Temp Change

Climate Scoreboard temperature change

The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 December and 18 December. Activists and world political leaders had been anticipating a landmark treaty which would replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It’s difficult to sift through all the terms thrown around  (350, REDD, CO2, UNFCCC, to name a few), but it all comes down to reaching an agreement that will encourage sustainable living, lower carbon emissions and prevent the global climate from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. COP15 has left us at around 3.9 degrees by 2100 – still completely catastrophic (see short YouTube video)! Read David Roberts’ Copenhagen: a look back at the most striking narratives (Grist, Dec. 21) for more details.

While I’m no expert on climate change, I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of environmental issues for as long as I can remember. In the past year, thanks to fellow Earth-lovers (you know who you are), I’ve realized how urgently the world needs to turn things around to before we reach “tipping point” of climate catastrophe. If you’re a skeptic, here’s a great 10 minute video by teacher and author Greg Craven which confronts many of the common arguments against climate change activism. Trust me when I say that I know it sounds like fanaticism as I’ve confronted the same mentality in my own religious deconversion. Join the debate and decide for yourself!

If you’ve made it this far, you may be wondering what you can do about it. You’ve probably seen Al Gore’s 2007 film, An Inconvenient Truth, but there have been some other fantastic movies released this year on the topic of sustainability. Age of Stupid (trailer) was particularly inspiring to me, mainly because the filmmakers followed through with some fantastic daily video coverage of COP15 (The Stupid Show, 8 live episodes, each 40 minutes to an hour long). One Degree Matters debuted at COP15 and can been seen for free online. Acid Test (The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification, featuring Sigourney Weaver) is another free online film, just 21min long. Food, Inc. will also get your Activist juices flowing. Finally, here are a few practical steps that you’ve probably never considered:

  • Use an emissions calculator to determine your personal greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Join some of the campaigns. 350.org and 10:10 are just a couple of the many ways you can get involved.
  • Buy local. It defrays shipping costs and fuel. My hometown of Louisville has a great “keep louisville weird” movement. Check out similar independent business programs in your area.

Having said all that, here’s some George Carlin humor on Saving the Planet (NSFW):

* “The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held at the Bella Center in CopenhagenDenmark, between 7 December and 18 December. The conference included the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 5th Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 5) to the Kyoto Protocol. According to the Bali Road Map, a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012 was to be agreed there” (2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Wikipedia, 2009 Dec 21).