I recently saw a speech by Bill Clinton conducted in 2010 that was invigorating, inspiring, and very relevant to the challenges we are facing as a species.

One of the most captivating moments was when he admitted his love for politics, while saying that most of the discussion within His career was spent debating 1. What they were going to do, and 2. How much money would it cost?

He went on to say that perhaps the most relevant question that arises now as our planet is facing many problems is, "How are we going to do it?"

How?

As an aspiring sustainable practices professional, business owner and entrepreneur I must admit I am in awe of the opportunities that sit before me. As my knowledge and awareness of the world and myself grow by the day, I am inspired and amazed the the new lense from which I now view the world. I am also saddened by the lack of vision that both my parents had. I now realize that the very hopes and dreams that were always discouraged, squandered, and belittled by them all of this time actually are achievable. As I work diligently in anticipation of what awaits, they still say to me, "It can't be done." or "It's too risky." or "it's too hard."

There are naysayers saying these very words about addressing the very real climate change issues we face. What the naysayers don't see is the action and focus demonstrated by many people around the globe. It is not one big solution that will save us, it is a million small ones, a step at a time.

I am starting this thread to serve as a place to focus on and discuss the positive changes that are being made towards a sustainable future. I will be posting and I invite people to post comments, questions, or insights around solutions that are being implemented to solve the global climate change crisis. I will add my own insights and newfound knowledge here as well over time. If there is enough interest in the topic I may begin another group on TA about it. I want to highlight the many amazing things people are doing, and I hope this will serve was another source on inspiration to counteract the negative naysayer's mentality. I hope to rid myself of the negativity modeled for me by my parents, and overcome the attitude instilled inside of me that there is no hope.

There is hope.

The hope I have is in the goodness of humanity. I do believe that the solutions that we come up with to battle climate change will help to stomp our religion. Did you know that even in the midst of war, it is the moments when resources, like water are being discussed among enemies that a momentary peace presides, and humans look at each other in those moments with compassion? I believe that it is in the very struggles we face that we find the best solutions, and in the very worst of circumstances that we survive. Perhaps our greatest asset to survival is our ability to experience emotions. The same evolutionary traits that make us kill each other, and believe in deities, may be what allows us to find answers to the most difficult question from a sustainability standpoint: How will we live in light of climate change, and the reality we have already carved for our future?


I am very excited to address this question, and I smile as I see a sea of possibility :)

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Hold on to your hats people....drought is already impacting the United States...thanks to Arnold Schwartenegger, California has been very proactive (more than any other state thus far) in combating climate change. But his changes have come too little too late.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/03/us/california-drought/index.html

Water shortage is a reality that the world is facing...the whole world. We ALL need to start conserving water. 

Hoover dam will stop producing electricity within the next 2-5 years (or sooner).

I wonder what else will enter the 'halls of memory'?

I love your mission, but I don't know what I can do about it as an ordinary person.  

Dear Simon,

  Friend :) I want to thank you for asking that question. I’m sure you probably didn’t give it much thought when you wrote it. It was a simple reply and acknowledgement of my post, which I greatly appreciate. But to me it was much more than that. You actually gave me (another) idea for a business and a new inspiration. In fact it has caused me to reflect much more deeply than perhaps I had on the subject, and fine tune some of my own preconceived notions of what people know or do not know about climate change, sustainability, and water shortage. It’s consumed my thoughts all day as I reflect on why I’m doing what I’m doing in school and why I even care. I’m not your typical treehugging hippie, nor have I ever considered myself particularly interested in the subject of climate change until I enrolled in school. Initially I did so for very selfish reasons -  to hide from the world as long as possible, and to try to pick up the pieces of my shattered existence.

 

I want to answer your question. But if you’ll oblige my rant for a moment in the process, lol!....

 

I think it might be relevant to tell you my own story about how I came to enter this new and exciting field. It was by accident. Almost a year and a half ago, I resigned from a lucrative and very promising career in the banking industry. I have shared a little about my time as a corrections officer as well, along with various other jobs in education (preschool, elementary and high school) during my time in college, and various other jobs in hospitality and the food and beverage industry. I dabbled in medical interpreting but never got serious about it. So suffice it to say I have bounced around, like marbles in chaos trying to find my way. I’ve seriously struggled to find my identity. I was just watching the documentary on Netflix called “Tricked” about the sex trade here in the United States. I found that I really identified with the girl in this movie. One of the things she said, loosely quoted is, “I don’t yet feel comfortable in my own body. I still don’t know what I want to look like, how I want to dress, how I want to act. I’m still figuring out who I am.” That’s exactly how I feel right now. So everything I’m about to say should be understood in that light. This is coming from a girl with a really shallow identity, an infant awareness of the world, and like a prisoner just released from slavery of the mind, and extremely immature understanding of a LOT of things. So everything I’m about to say might be total bullshit, lol! OR….I might learn even more and 2 years from now everything I’m going to say might be wrong! I honestly do not know how wise or ignorant I am, and it’s the first time I’ve ever really navigated the world by myself.

With all of that out of the way, this is what I think. It’s not up to the individual citizen to have a holistic understanding of climate change to be able to make a difference. When people ask me what I’m in school for and I say “sustainable practices” I always get confused looks. It makes me smile because I know I’m on the cutting edge. It is the unknown gold mine, and I’m ahead of the game :-) A very wise person once told me, “First in, first to move up….” I was skeptical at the time. It turns out they were right. I can now see very clearly that this field is going to boom bigger than anything we could imagine. Because it has to. We are not left with a choice. It’s a matter of survival of the human race. Not to be melodramatic but…..that is the truth. Now with that being said, I do have a lot of hope. Like I mentioned in the above post, there is hope :-) and lots of it. This hope does not come from any god. It comes from the human capacity to act cohesively.

I believe that despite what some social scientists have hypothesized – that humans have not evolved enough to think cohesively in the long-term (meaning essentially that we have not evolved enough to be able to change our behaviors to ensure we will not be the source of our own demise), I see tremendous evidence to the contrary. The only problem is that our current measures to make and create innovative solutions are not happening at a fast enough pace to curb the increasing ppmv of CO2 in the atmosphere with an increase of about 2-4 per year, which forecasts….big trouble. My own personal opinion from seeing the data is that we don’t have 20 or 30 years to make changes. We have to make them now. Even if we shut down every coal plant in the world, never again to burn coal for energy this very instant, the amount of emissions already released will take the rest of our lives and probably into that of our great great great grandchildren to counteract. If that were the only change we made, we still would not have even put a dent into the other problems we’ve created, like water contamination, mostly from stormwater runoff and agricultural waste and other non-point polution, chemicals infiltrated from pesticides, soil depletion, an increasing carrying capacity that cannot be sustained, (aka population growth) rising prices of food, melting snow pack, (which is water we depend on the drink!)

….I could go on and on and on Simon, but I don’t want to depress you!...it is depressing. It is scary. It is a field that must be studied with an ability to think and continue to have emotional optimism. It is all to easy to get bogged down by the science and data that spells trouble, and feel like we’re all only one person….so what could we possibly do? You are one person and I am one person. Together we have a great deal of knowledge. Your knowledge is on other topics perhaps, my knowledge on others. My decision to dedicate my life to sustainable practices in one form or another has not happened because of any one “ah ha moment,” but a series of experiences that has led me here. The only reason I have survived this long, or even survived at all, is because of the kindness of strangers. The only reason I have any hope of the future is for this same reason. I believe that we can act cohesively.

Unfortunately, the science is clear, but there has yet to be an ability to articulate a path of change that we can follow. This is also seemingly impossible, because there is not now nor will there ever be a one size fits all approach to combating climate change. There will always be climate change deniers, or people who want to say it is “god’s will” instead of understanding that HUMANS are causing climate change. There will always be indifference for those who live in comfort. Unless people are forced to deal with it they probably won’t.

So when you ask me what any one particular person can do about the issue…it depends on the person. For some it may mean no longer drinking from plastic bottles and investing in a stainless steel mug. For others it might mean no longer using toxic chemicals to clean their house and instead using biodegradable natural products like vinegar and lemon. For others it might mean buying solar panels, building a tiny house to live off grid, or buying an electric car. For some it will mean they choose to take the bus instead of drive, or move out to the middle of nowhere and raise livestock and have a garden. For some it will mean getting involved in their government and actually participating (aka lobbying) and writing strongly worded letters to the people who have the ability to do something. For others it means pursuing a career in law or policy. For some it means moving abroad for humanitarian efforts, or like the masterminds of “Salam Neighbor” using film as a way to bring about awareness of the human suffering around the globe.

So what can you do as just one person?

Pick your passion and go for it. You don’t have to dedicate hours upon hours of study like I am and become a Sustainability Professional like I am. I would say that at the very least, I would hope that you would consider at the very minimum becoming aware of how climate change will be impacting you personally. Not just you. All of us. We really are in all of this together. The beautiful irony is that the very things that have torn us apart are the same things that are now pulling us back together. That is the heartbeat of the universe isn’t it? Maybe all of matter does expand only to retract, and maybe the connectedness of the human species is no different. Maybe we cannot escape each other or become too far disconnected. Maybe that is our strongest survival mechanism. During war, talk of water brings people together. Maybe the threat of extinction will be the ultimate catalyst to extinguish all fairytales and delusions.

Our ancestors understood something we have forgotten. We are connected to the universe in ways we easily forget as we sit at our laptops with coffee mug in hand. It is during my walks in nature that I feel that same connection that they felt, and I begin to understand how much we have taken for granted. I am sad in many ways because I can see what is going to happen. We are going to run out of drinking water. In some places sooner than others. That is not a doomsday conspiracy theory. That is a fact. My decision to stay living where I’m living has been made in part due to my knowledge of that. The beautiful city that I call home is already in the midst of a drought that people are unaware of because Hoover Dam is still pumping electric hydropower. It’s less than 40ft from ceasing….for good. I can see that the friends and family that I love will be impacted first by water shortage.

California is already dealing with this, which produces our food. Sustainable food solutions are the answer. Unfortunately, there are not enough people working towards this problem to be able to feed everyone. Isn’t it ironic that the apocalypse that Christians predict being things like famine and natural disasters….it’s ironic that us HUMANS are the cause of those very things. We are our own worst enemies in this regard. The question becomes will we evolve past that to be able to solve these problems? No one person can do it alone, we all must work together. I do believe however that there will be pioneers and leaders that help facilitate and bring about change. I hope to have the honor of being one of them. Not in a way that will make me famous. I do not want to be famous. I want to produce change that will be effective. That’s all that matters to me. And yes…I’ll admit I want to earn enough money to take care of me and my son. I have one person who depends on me for everything. He is my motivation. So it is with mixed emotions that I continue forward.

Every part of me wants to run the opposite direction and ignore this. Ignorance is sweet sweet bliss, but once informed, ignorance ceases to be a choice. Running away would weigh on my conscious more than facing it would. Despite my PTSD and trauma and personal struggle to become….”normal”…..whatever the hell normal is…I have found my calling. I wouldn’t call it a passion because I am passionate about a lot of things. Not just one thing. I am passionate about women’s issues, human rights, ending domestic violence, bringing awareness of the sex trafficking world, revamping the court systems, helping women in Islamic countries find a voice…I could go on and on….there is no one thing I want to accomplish. In that regard it is hard to be effective if I’m trying to be in all places at once. I do believe however that I can make a difference in many areas of need. Some on my own personal time for no monetary reward – helping women for example. But my professional life is now dedicated to starting my own business so that I can be one of the leaders that combats the issues we face due to climate change. There are SO many opportunities…wanna know where to invest your stocks? Lol….

 

So my rant is done. I hope I’ve answered your question. What can any one person do? A LOT. The real questions is what do YOU want to do about it? Do you care enough to learn more about it? If not then you will possibly change your mind when your lights go out sporadically, or your tap stops running water. By then it will be too late. That is going to happen in your lifetime Simon. Make no mistake about it. 

Here's a 16 minute video by economist Bjorn Lomberg putting perspective on many issues including the ones you weaved around.  It's very enlightening and challenges much of the accepted views of global warming without denying it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU-LTKOJY9M

You started off with praise of Bill Clinton for his skills at presenting an invigorating, inspiring speech that was very relevant to the challenges we are facing as a species.  First and foremost you should always remember when you hear a politician speaking on anything their primary goal is not to impart knowledge but to mold opinions to their own purposes. In other words, theoretically Bill could have been giving an equally invigorating and inspiring about how fleecing and duping the general public is very relevant to the challenges we are facing as a species and done just as good a job of impressing people who are already predisposed to believe whatever he has to say on that subject.

I bought in on the whole global warming idea.  Over the past 2 years I've changed many of my views on it by listening and reading a broader range of opinions.  After all you don't prove the strength of a new alloy by seeking out people who will agree on your opinion of its strength.  You test it and try to break it to determine its strength.  The same principle applies to ideas, theories and everything else. 

Not doing this with something as big the global warming issue means you chose to follow the opinions of others rather than seek the facts yourself.  You, as someone who joined TA seeking answers about the important issue of religion and modifying your own opinions due to the knowledge you've found can surely see that it's inconsistent of you not to treat the issue of global warming the same way.

I'm not going to get into a debate about the validity of the theories surrounding global warming.  I only encourage people to examine all sides of the issue before making the same error christianity requires; putting unquestioning faith ahead of reason and critical thinking. 

Can you recommend some videos or DVDs Belle?  It's hard to know which ones to trust. 

@Virgil, Problem # 1. Where are his sources? Problem #2. It doesn't matter what the "cost" is if we run out of water (which we are) or have toxic food to eat (which we do) or our oceans become so acidic that they cannot support life (which is happening.)...

I watched the full video. I do not see really how it is relevant to the issue of climate change. If the supposed "cost" of climate change and air pollution is low, he doesn't explain the fact that it is only in recent years that any attention has been given to the issue on a more macro level, (also side note: right there shows you he is uneducated on the topic or he would have understood that you cannot treat air pollution as separate from climate change, nor does it prove a point to separate them when analyzing cost).

I will give anything and everything a critical eye of scrutiny Virgil, but this video is not up to snuff.

Bjorn Lomborg uneducated? I don't think so. I think maybe you should try to really understans what he is saying.

@Unseen: I understood him perfectly. He thinks like an economist. He hasn't the slightest idea of what it means to think in terms of the triple bottom line. His ideas are flawed and useless for the purpose of this discussion.

What's wrong with "thinking like an economist"?

He points out that dealing with climate change must be done, but it must fit in with other needs: eliminating poverty, eliminating major diseases, fighting terrorism, cleaning up the oceans. 

He is not a climate change denier. 

Climate change advocates, like most advocates, are monmaniacs. They are so concerned with their chosen "cause," that they can't see beyond it.

He says that there's only so much in the way of wealth that can be brought to bear, we have the choice of putting fighting everything else on hold and spending all of our money on fixing climate change or budgeting for climate change and continuing to work on the other issues.

He also says that many of the proposed solutions won't actually help and the money spent on them could be spent in other ways to achieve the desired result at less cost.

This is the sort of discussion we need so that money is spent appropriately, and who better to conduct such discussions than economists? What is your particular qualification for rejecting him and his entire field of expertise out of hand as you just did?

Beyond all that, he raises the point that you can't do anything at all if you ignore the fact that what the climate advocates want is politically impossible.

His video was ONLY talking about economic principles. To solve large scale global issues we can no long simply ask ourselves, "What are we going to do" and "how much does it cost?" We have to look beyond that and consider the unintended consequences of our actions before we act. He doesn't seem to think that way, which is why his opinions are irrelevant and old ways of thinking.

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