Climate Conversations: What comes after “ain’t it awful”

climate Lump GulchClyde Burnett, Boulder County.   Question: What are the responses from US government and industry to the Paris agreement?

Answer: The Obama Administration has publicized several EPA rulings regarding carbon dioxide and methane in a Climate Action Plan. However, there is a legal delay regarding the control of CO2 emissions in the administration’s Clean Power Plan.  There is no Congressional response.

We are beginning to see some grass roots activity. In Washington State there is a proposed law for a carbon tax that will be presented to the voters. In Oregon, our Children’s Trust is suing the Federal government for failure to act on climate change that will impose a greater burden on their generation. That complaint is based on the public trust doctrine of long standing history. They have legal and climate advice from Professor Mary C. Wood of the University of Oregon and Professor James Hansen of Columbia University.

Question: So what will it take to inspire folks to actively work to reduce CO2 emissions?

Answer: Perhaps we must wait for the next 1000-year front-range flood, or a hot dry summer with forest wildfires. Do our citizens understand the science sufficiently to realize that the global warming leading to Earth’s energy imbalance is continuous and increasing? Why do folks ignore the science? Must I say it? It is just inconvenient!

Do we really need an imminent catastrophe to have active community involvement? This might promote frequent social evenings, or perhaps a more tightly organized electronic social round of communications.

Then a casual mention of “ain’t it awful” regarding our neighbors’ flooding problems or the wind destruction of some small town might result in extended participation in the type of mutual aid that erupts from close neighbors. Those victims have few resources and little time for general improvements in coping with the extreme weather that results from recent influx of atmospheric water vapor and energy.

We could carefully discuss our understanding of our national and international environmental matters, perhaps with the advice of experts. If we should happen to agree that the blame is properly on Climate Change, we might use our combined social weight to express our desires.

We might decide that we should hold hands and face civilization’s end. Or we could join in a worldwide war effort on this common adversary, the global warming resulting from the energy imbalance caused by the mistakes of some unidentified humans. A local remedy might be a community solar garden or wind farm. Is it possible that our leaders can give more attention to our adaptation expenses? Might we actually address the cause of this climate threat? A single citizen would not have the influence or resources to make such a move, but a community has a much larger voice.

An example of such activity twenty-something years ago was the citizens of the Little Kingdom Forest (LKF) response to the threat of an extensive clearcut in our area. With influence all the way to the Governor, a cooperative fuel-thinning project involving the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and local residents was devised and executed along Lump Gulch Road. Part of this healthy forest still thrives, although a portion of it was clearcut by the Forest Service two years ago.