Talk about crisis to everyone, even people who do not agree

Talk about crisis to everyone, even people who do not agree

Last month I applied and was accepted to attend a leadership training program conducted by an organization called the Climate Reality Project. This group empowers ordinary citizens to become climate leaders by providing them with the tools needed to network and fight against the climate crisis we are facing. The training took place last weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The program, started in 2006, was inspired by the Academy Award-winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” narrated by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore. This movie got the world discussing what was happening to our planet’s climate.

I showed this movie countless times to my students because it presented such a compelling argument on taking action against the powerful fossil fuel industry’s misleading narrative on climate change.

The Climate Reality Project was born out of an urgency to act on the compelling scientific evidence that our planet’s atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels were accelerating from man-made activities.

The session that I attended had over 1,100 attendees from over 30 countries. It was a far cry from the first conference that took place at Al Gore’s family’s barn. There were about 50 attendees at that session. Today more than 20,000 people from over 150 countries have attended a training session in some part of the world.

The highlight of the weekend for me was being able to see Al Gore deliver his fantastic slide-show presentation about climate change and to shake his hand. It was of course very sobering to hear the scientific data detailing the dramatic weather events and changes in the planet’s weather patterns from anthropocentric increases in greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Much of the recent weather events and deaths from these events are not reported in the mainstream media. Therefore people in the United States often dismiss the seriousness of the climate crisis. Just this past month there were almost 70 forest fires burning in Alaska. Because of climate change, the fire season in the western states has increased by 105 days since 1970.

Scientists have discovered that for every degree Celsius of warming, lightening strikes increase by 10-12 percent. In 2018 there were eight wildfires above the Arctic Circle. In 2010 fires killed 55,000 people in Russia. Four months later Russia halted grain exports, and Ukraine restricted grain exports. This caused world food prices to reach record highs.

Between 2006 and 2010, Syria saw fertile land become desert land as it experienced the worst drought in the country’s history. This caused the deaths of 80 percent of the cattle and drove 1.5 million rural residents out of the countryside to seek refuge in Syria’s already crowded cities.

The mass immigration from Central America has been fueled in part by climate change. The Central American region has been experiencing droughts that have been especially severe in the country of Honduras. It was ranked number one on the Global Climate Risk Index, which stated that “for the period from 1998 to 2017, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Myanmar rank highest for weather-related loss events.”

Because there have been drastic drops in food production, climate refugees are leaving their homes in search of jobs in the northern regions of the Americas.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the region, and the rural poor depend on agriculture for their livelihood as well as for their families’ food. However, this region, dubbed the Dry Corridor, is extremely susceptible to hurricanes, flooding, droughts and tropical storms.

Most of us who drink coffee on a daily basis are unaware the Honduras coffee crop is especially affected by changes in weather.

While climate change is not the only reason for the mass migration of many coffee growers, it is predicted the land suitable for coffee cultivation in Central American will drop by 40 percent by 2050 and the number of coffee growers will decline from 12,000 to 9,000.

Don’t start hoarding coffee, however; the news isn’t all bad. The slide show also laid out the framework and possibilities to write a different narrative for the future of our planet. There are many success stories all over the world and in the United States. Unfortunately Ohio’s political landscape is making it difficult for our state to move ahead into the green future.

Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook for 2019 stated that “today more than two-thirds of the global population lives in countries where solar and wind are the cheapest sources of new bulk generation.” Minnesota, the state where this conference was held and where my husband’s parents grew up, is using renewables for 25 percent of their electricity generation.

Texas, a state known for oil production, has the most wind installations with over 23 thousand megawatts installed by 2018. Kansas uses wind turbines to generate over 36 percent of its electricity. In some cases wind turbines have saved family farms by providing extra incomes for farmers.

The cost of solar crystalline silicon cell modules has dropped dramatically to 25 cents per watt. Nevada’s NV Energy signed an agreement to purchase solar electricity at 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour last year. This is the lowest price paid in the USA.

In Australia one in five homes now have solar panels on their roofs. In China more than 53 percent of new energy capacity comes from renewable resources, and China has the largest solar array in the world.

An attendee asked Mr. Gore what actions he would suggest people take to turn this climate crisis around. His reply was, “Use your voice. Talk about this crisis to everyone, even people who do not agree. Use your choice. Choose green products and green energy. Finally, use your vote. Vote for politicians who support efforts to halt climate change. Vote for the planet.”

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