Thirty years ago, when I helped organize the first Congressional hearings on the emerging climate crisis, scientists warned that without significant and rapid action to reduce global pollution, the world would soon experience destructive changes — stronger storms, bigger floods, deeper droughts, hotter temperatures and rising seas. Today, it’s painfully obvious that the consequences of our reckless use of the Earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer are now upon us.
Two years ago, Superstorm Sandy gathered destructive power from the much hotter ocean waters it traversed and slammed into the East Coast of the United States, resulting in $70 billion in total damages and hundreds of lost lives. This past June was the hottest June ever recorded since temperature records began in 1880. In California, a record dry spell plunged the state into historic drought, raising food prices across the nation and triggering the rapid spread of destructive fires. According to scientific experts, these and other events will continue to worsen until we take dramatic action to solve the global climate crisis.
Fortunately, people around the world are beginning to demand real and substantive reforms from their leaders. Eight years ago, I founded The Climate Reality Project, an organization dedicated to spreading the truth about the climate crisis and creating the cultural momentum to solve it.
From Istanbul to Chicago, from Melbourne to Johannesburg, there is a growing number of global citizens who are committed to talking with their communities about the urgency of the climate crisis, working together to support clean energy solutions and demanding action from their leaders.
Already, their work, and the work of others, is beginning to pay off. Major industrialized nations including Mexico, South Korea, members of the European Union, the United States and even China—the world’s largest greenhouse polluter— have committed to reducing their emissions and investing in clean, renewable energy. Moreover, the rapid spread of much cheaper solar and wind energy technology is empowering citizens to dream of and assert their independence from dirty fossil fuels. These factors, combined with an inspired group of citizen leaders, are opening the next chapter of the climate crisis. We have entered a period of consequences, but we are also now entering a period of hope.
The climate crisis is a generational struggle. It will not be resolved overnight, but it can be solved and we will solve it. We have no choice. Our very future depends on it.