The greenhouse effect is a simple chemical reality: carbon compounds in the atmosphere trap heat, like a greenhouse roof. At the optimum level, atmospheric greenhouse gases make life as we know it possible; outside the optimum range, many stable geophysical processes become unstable, and civilization becomes harder to establish and secure. For most of the … Continue reading Climate Change is an Existential Threat & We Can Solve It
An idea whose time has come
In 2010, when Citizens’ Climate Lobby brought 25 citizen volunteers to Capitol Hill, it felt like a big challenge to get enough people to go the distance, to meet with all 535 voting members of Congress. This year, we brought 36 times as many people, and it is looking more like we will need more elected officials to welcome and build relationships with all the citizen lobbyists coming to make democracy work.
The 2015 CCL International Conference brought a record number of citizen volunteer lobbyists together—more than 900—to have real policy discussions with elected officials. It was a breakthrough year in a lot of ways:
- For the first time, we had more people attending than could reasonably fit into the meetings we had scheduled.
- We had nearly three times as many volunteers to role-play members of Congress in our basic training than we had volunteers total in our first conference.
- We heard from not one but two great scientists who have been named to TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people on Earth.
- We were joined by dozens of faith leaders, who came to support this message of enhanced civics and substantive policy for a livable world.
- Pope Francis released his Encyclical Laudato Si: On caring for our common home 5 days before we went to the Hill.
- On the morning of our Lobby Day, the Lancet released a comprehensive public health study that calls for pricing carbon as necessary to protect human health from now on.
- And, in one Republican office after another, we heard the message: we get the science; we want to talk about solutions.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rules to curb carbon emissions, under the Clean Air Act. The program is called the Clean Power Program and aims to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants by more than 30% within 20 years. It is the single most significant step toward reducing power plant greenhouse gas emissions ever taken by the US government.
Many environmental activists are celebrating; predictably, opponents of climate action are warning of grave economic costs. The real impact is less, and less immediate, than many suspect. If the targeted emissions are reduced by the target percentage, then overall US greenhouse gas emissions from industrial, household and transportation sources, will decline by roughly 10% over 20 years.