It’s Time to Fight Climate Change With Source Energy
A couple of weeks ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report and just recently the White House unveiled the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment Report (NCA). The IPCC report predicts more Sandy-like storms and severe weather, melting ice sheets, and rising sea levels. It also emphasizes the roles that the private sector and consumer behavior play alongside public policy, if we are to have a chance of avoiding further catastrophic consequences that climate change entails. Meanwhile, the main takeaway from the NCA is that climate change is not a distant problem for future generations, but one we are facing right now. And it will have serious economic and societal consequences for the U.S. While the conversation is slowly shifting from ‘is climate change real’ to ‘what do we do about it,’ part of the challenge today is that the numbers we use to report on climate change are not as meaningful or as accurate as they can be.
Climate reports often cite GHG levels, with a focus on CO2 as it makes up the bulk of emissions, and highlight dramatically increasing trends. But there are disconnects between these numbers—cited to explain the urgency of the situation—and the groups affected by and implementing policies to address it:
- Very few people relate to CO2 such that their understanding of the situation is limited to ‘up is bad’ and ‘down is good’
- CO2 levels or even all GHG emissions do not adequately depict the environmental situation
Why does it matter? It matters because the best information is actionable information. If the numbers are irrelevant and inaccurate, how can we expect national governments, the private sector, and consumers to make decisions that mitigate climate change?
NEXT SECTION: "One Relevant, Accurate (and Scalable) Metric, Countless Changes in Behavior"