Our Climate Crisis—and What We Can Do About It

  • Our Climate Crisis

  • Three Basic Facts about the Climate

    Today everyone knows (or certainly should know) that the Earth is warming, that humans are the cause, and that this warming is changing our planet’s climate in a way that threatens life as we now find it.

  • Energy, Greenhouse Gases, and Climate Change in the Twenty-first Century

    Climate and energy data is often presented in units that may be unfamiliar. But the units chosen here are intended to make comparisons simple.

  • Tipping Points – The Riskiest Bet

    When our planet’s average temperature increases steadily and gradually, the climate – the range of the weather over a period of time – gradually changes as well, until it suddenly jumps into a new condition. Scientists who study these abrupt changes refer to them as tipping points.

  • China and Coal and Sunlight

    China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has promised to shrink emissions to zero by 2060. It is critical to anyone born in this century that China keeps this promise.

  • India: Stepping Back from the Precipice

    In recent years India has defied calls to abandon its aggressive plans to burn more coal. But now economics and a crisis in health have set the nation on a new course.

  • The Downside of Being First

    The US has by far the most extensive energy infrastructure. Upgrading it for renewable energy will be difficult and expensive but enormously beneficial.

  • Solutions

  • Our Dark Materials

    Powering the world using sustainable energy will require huge numbers of wind turbines, solar panels, and storage batteries. These will need many new sources of rare earth materials.

  • Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

    Improvements in energy efficiency are by far the quickest and least costly solution to the climate crisis.

Rescuing the Planet

Protecting Half the Planet to Heal the Earth

By Tony Hiss

Could it be possible to set aside half the earth’s land and sea for nature by the year 2050? Former New Yorker staff writer Tony Hiss investigated the feasibility of this ambitious idea proposed by biologist Edward O. Wilson and emerged inspired and surprisingly optimistic. These efforts are already underway and must focus immediately on a few dozen threatened “hotspots,” home to an enormous percentage of Earth’s plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet. READ MORE »

The Future

Six Drivers of Global Change

Al Gore

No period in global history resembles what humanity is about to experience. Explore the key global forces converging to create the complexity of change, our crisis of confidence in facing the options, and how we can take charge of our destiny.

Our Choice

A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

Al Gore

We clearly have the tools to solve the climate crisis. The only thing missing is collective will. We must understand the science of climate change and the ways we can better generate and use energy.

The Big Ratchet

How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis

Ruth DeFries

Human history can be viewed as a repeating spiral of ingenuity—ratchet (technological breakthrough), hatchet (resulting natural disaster), and pivot (inventing new solutions). Whether we can pivot effectively from the last Big Ratchet remains to be seen.

The Sixth Extinction

An Unnatural History

Elizabeth Kolbert

With all of Earth’s five mass extinctions, the climate changed faster than any species could adapt. The current extinction has the same random and rapid properties, but it’s unique in that it’s caused entirely by the actions of a single species—humans.

Natural Capitalism

Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins & L. Hunter Lovins

A new definition of capitalism that fully values natural and human resources may hold the keys to a sustainable future.

Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels

Ian Morris

Human social development, says Morris, is constantly generated by environmental and social factors. The amount of energy that can be extracted from the environment through technology defines the social possibilities, and thus influences the attitudes and world view of each epoch.

Further Reading