Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 often-asked questions with some straightforward answers.

[The article is divided into three sections. Part 1: What is happening?; Part 2, What could happen?; Part 3: What can we do?.

Below we have posted Part 3, The complete article can be found here. ]

Part 3

What can we do?

1.Are there any realistic solutions to the problem?

Yes, but change is happening too slowly.

Society has put off action for so long that the risks are now severe, scientists say. But as long as there are still unburned fossil fuels in the ground, it is not too late to act. The warming will slow to a potentially manageable pace only when human emissions are reduced to zero. The good news is that they are now falling in many countries as a result of programs like fuel-economy standards for cars, stricter building codes and emissions limits for power plants. But experts say the energy transition needs to speed up drastically to head off the worst effects of climate change.

2.What is the Paris Agreement?

Virtually every country agreed to limit future emissions.

The landmark deal was reached outside Paris in December 2015. The reductions are voluntary and the pledges do not do enough to head off severe effects. But the agreement is supposed to be reviewed every few years so that countries ramp up their commitments. President Trump announced in 2017 that he would pull the United States out of the deal, though that will take years, and other countries have said they would go forward regardless of American intentions.

3.Does clean energy help or hurt the economy?

Job growth in renewable energy is strong.

The energy sources with the lowest emissions include wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power stations. Power plants burning natural gas also produce fewer emissions than those burning coal. Converting to these cleaner sources may be somewhat costlier in the short term, but they could ultimately pay for themselves by heading off climate damages and reducing health problems associated with dirty air. And expansion of the market is driving down the costs of renewable energy so fast that it may ultimately beat dirty energy on price alone — it already does in some areas.

The transition to cleaner energy certainly produces losers, like coal companies, but it also creates jobs. The solar industry in the United States now employs more than twice as many people as coal mining.

4.What about fracking or ‘clean coal’?

Both could help clean up the energy system.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is one of a set of drilling technologies that has helped produce a new abundance of natural gas in the United States and some other countries. Burning gas instead of coal in power plants reduces emissions in the short run, though gas is still a fossil fuel and will have to be phased out in the long run. The fracking itself can also create local pollution.

“Clean coal” is an approach in which the emissions from coal-burning power plants would be captured and pumped underground. It has yet to be proven to work economically, but some experts think it could eventually play a major role.

5.What’s the latest with electric cars?

Sales are still small overall, but they are rising fast.

The cars draw power at night from the electric grid and give off no pollution during the day as they move around town. They are inherently more efficient than gasoline cars and would represent an advance even if the power were generated by burning coal, but they will be far more important as the electric grid itself becomes greener through renewable power. The cars are improving so fast that some countries are already talking about banning the sale of gasoline cars after 2030.

6.What are carbon taxes, carbon
trading and carbon offsets?

It’s just jargon for putting a price on pollution.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions” for short. That is because two of the most important gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. (Some other pollutants are lumped into the same category, even if they do not actually contain carbon.) When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods to put a price on emissions, which economists say is one of the most important steps society could take to limit them.

7.Climate change seems so overwhelming.
What can I personally do about it?

Start by sharing this with 50 of your friends.

Experts say the problem can only be solved by large-scale, collective action. Entire states and nations have to decide to clean up their energy systems, using every tool available and moving as quickly as they can. So the most important thing you can do is to exercise your rights as a citizen, speaking up and demanding change.

You can also take direct personal action to reduce your carbon footprint in simple ways that will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off unused lights, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat.

Taking one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined. If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car or putting solar panels on your roof. If your state has a competitive electricity market, you may be able to buy 100 percent green power.

Leading corporations, including large manufacturers like carmakers, are starting to demand clean energy for their operations. You can pay attention to company policies, support the companies taking the lead, and let the others know you expect them to do better.

These personal steps may be small in the scheme of things, but they can raise your own consciousness about the problem — and the awareness of the people around you. In fact, discussing this issue with your friends and family is one of the most meaningful things you can do. SOURCE

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