How to Stop This Comet.

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski @evgenit, courtesy UnSplash

A movie is so much better when you don’t know what’s coming.

In life, though, success comes from anticipating what’s coming correctly and meeting the moment.

No Surprises

The Weather is Actually Changing

Trends in ocean heat from 1958 through 2021 from Cheng et al. If you squint, you can see the green error bars on the data. Note that there is more potential error in the earlier measurements, and our precision improves over time. In other words, these ocean scientists know what they’re doing.⁴
  • Warmer water physically takes up more space, leading to sea-level rise.
  • Warmer oceans also “supercharge” weather systems, since warm air rises. This leads to more hurricanes, more powerful hurricanes, increased rainfall in storms, and thus more flooding.
  • Ocean and coastal ecosystems rely on temperature ranges and seasonal fluctuations. Warmer oceans threaten coral reef ecosystems and also fisheries that humans rely on for food.
New York Times graphic depicting changes in precipitation across the continental U.S. over the past 30 years.⁵

So What is Our Strategy for Stopping This Comet?

  • Life on Earth as we know it thrived with global carbon levels between 280 and 350 ppm.⁶
  • Climate science has agreed that exceeding 430 ppm likely puts us past a tipping point.⁶
  • We are currently around 414 ppm and still climbing.⁷

There’s Some Good News!

  1. Set ambitious targets: Companies that set very ambitious targets worked harder and made more progress. They found this to be true even in sectors where reducing carbon emissions is very challenging, like resource extraction.
  2. Think holistically: Companies that made sure to address all kinds of carbon emissions and carbon footprints made better progress. In the sustainability world, types of carbon emissions are split into three categories. First, there are those you directly emit through company actions, like actually burning fuel at facilities and in company vehicles. Second, there are carbon emissions from utilities you purchase, like those associated with your power bills. Third, there are all of the other emission sources, like employee commuting, distribution, business travel, and even emissions due to company investments.

Let’s keep figuring out what works, why, and how to replicate the success.

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Katie is the founder of GeoLiteracy, LLC. She has evaluated environmental programs for 20 years and loves solving tricky problems. www.geoliteracyproject.com

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Katie Butler

Katie Butler

Katie is the founder of GeoLiteracy, LLC. She has evaluated environmental programs for 20 years and loves solving tricky problems. www.geoliteracyproject.com

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