By Maurice Carter, Sustainable Newton President
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
Scientists tell us everyday: there have never been times such as these:
The work of 234 authors, drawn from 14,000 studies around the world, the findings reveal global warming is accelerating and is on pace to pass the predicted tipping point of 1.5°C above pre-industrial averages as early as 2030 to 2035. The authors estimate the planet is presently on course to warm at least 3°C, based on current carbon reduction commitments (which are not being met). And could be much worse.
I'm glad the report is getting broad coverage today in publications like Axios, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and even the Wall Street Journal. But, I'm also concerned how the news will be received by my fellow Americans. As a climate activist, I've been spreading messages about climate change, global warming, and extreme weather for years. With most social media platforms, it's easy to monitor reactions and see which stories get traction. What's abundantly clear is people respond favorably and engage on good news about climate solutions: advances in solar energy, electric vehicles, or carbon capture technology. While alarming stories about the seriousness of the climate crisis fall like trees in a forest with no one there.
When it comes to climate news -- at least bad news -- reactions fall into one of three camps:
Read the IPCC report, its findings, and predictions. Be very concerned. But also take heart and find hope in the many positive stories coming out everyday about promising climate solutions, such as:
Our task is daunting, but not hopeless. The road ahead is fraught with challenges, but none of us is alone. We just need to work together with a shared sense of shared urgency and purpose. We need to be poised -- and determined -- to take each new solution to its maximum benefit. And never stop looking for more great ideas.
As Gandalf told Frodo, no one chooses to live in times like these. Epic tales are for books and movies, not real life. But for some generations, that line is crossed. Fate has chosen us, and there is no pass. We can only decide what to do with the time we are given.
I choose determination. I choose empowerment. I choose to live.