The Six Americas - Who is Paying Attention to the Global Warming Crisis and Who is Not? 

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has been tracking the views of the U.S. population on the issue of Global Warming since 2008. The good news is that 21% of the population are now “alarmed” and are working to address the problem on a regular basis. But that is clearly not enough despite the fact that the “Theory of Change”, a well researched piece of social science, states that it usually only takes a committed 10% of the population to drive policy. (Think U.S. - Cuba foreign policy).

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I have spent the past two years researching and writing the most accurate and concise book I could to inspire those 30%—who say they are “concerned” about global warming but are, in reality, doing very little to address the problem—to finally focus and take serious action. 30% of the population is 100,000,000 people! And that number is far more than enough to get the United States to do its part to overcome political and industry headwinds and effectively address this crisis before it is too late. We are not victims. We have choice. The future is literally “in our hands.”

If all the efforts now underway to galvanize Americans to take action are successful, there is a high probability that we will keep global warming somewhere between 2 and 3 degrees below pre-industrial levels. But we must all row together in the same direction and at a far faster pace - not as depicted in this illustration from In Our Hands.

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The Crisis We Avoid Paying Attention to and Why We Avoid Paying Attention to it.

I found the New York Times’ Sunday magazine article on August 1, 2018 deeply disturbing - but not surprising. It spelled out how the world ignored the scientific consensus reached between 1979 and 1989 that we had to curb the use of fossil fuels or face the following consequences which I summarize below:

  • If, by a miracle, we were able to limit global warming by 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, the sea would rise several meters and the Persian Gulf would have to be abandoned.

  • If limited to only 3 degrees, most coastal cities around the world would be lost. 

  • If limited to 4 degrees, Europe would be in permanent drought, vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh would be claimed by desert, the Colorado river would be down to a trickle and the American Southwest would become largely uninhabitable.

  • If global warming ever reached 5 degrees above preindustrial levels, it would possibly result in the end of humanity.

Wouldn’t you think such news would have galvanized all of humanity then—and certainly by now—to take action to save itself? 

Cleary this did not happen. And here we are today, still arguing over whether global warming and climate change exist and not coming close to doing enough to keep global warming under 3 degrees. United National Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated on September 10, 2018 that “Climate change is the defining issue of our time …. and that country targets so far would achieve only one-third of the global target”.

 What’s going on? 

For starters, emotions rather than scientific facts or logic drive more than 80% of decision making. That’s a general explanation. For a deeper dive into what might be affecting our decision making on this issue, I have found Per Espen Stoknes’ book What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming a remarkable assessmentIf this topic perks your interest, I urge you to buy the book and make up your own mind - based hopefully on logic rather than on your emotions.

Here is the link to the New York Times magazine article:

 www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth