In the face of Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas with record-setting quantities of water, climate leaders from around the world gathered in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit to add some propellant to our environmental salvage efforts. With the United States absenting itself on a federal level from climate discussions, people were understandably worried about whether the Paris Climate Agreement could endure. The GCAS was the podium on which thousands of global climate warriors stood to scream ‘yes, it will.’
Although most of us were horrified and frightened by the Trump Administration’s decision to exit the treaty, circuit-breakers in the agreement prevent our actual withdrawal until 2020. However, the leadership vacuum that emerged has compelled individual states, cities, counties and business groups to step up and fill the void. This grassroots activation – embodied in the first GCAS convened by California’s Gov. Brown, has essentially grabbed the baton away from legacy federal agencies and flung it to the players who have the ability to act quickly and aggressively.
The lesson I take away from these tireless champions who ignore the infamy of our federal representatives is that this challenge will only be met when EVERYONE gets actively engaged in the solution. We are out of time. The ‘other people’ working on this issue don’t have the leverage to turn the tide fast enough. Each of us, in our way and taking actions that are most appropriate for us, have to step forward. Greening our homes and businesses to whatever extent is possible contributes to our survival.
Crowdsourcing isn’t just a tool for fundraising or code hacking, the same concept should be applied to our climate deadlines. There isn’t one continent, one country or one industry that can shoulder all of this. But if everyone does something, this will work.
The number to remember is 350. 350. That’s how many parts per million of CO2 we can have in the atmosphere for the Earth to be habitable in the way we’re all accustomed to. As of today we are at 414. What’s between us and rewinding to 350? About 1.4 trillion tons of CO2 that need to be sequestered.