What’s the link between Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Climate Change?
The above graphic is from the NASA main website. It shows that over the last 400,000 years, global CO2 levels have gone up and down within natural limits. But at about the time the industrial revolution begins, CO2 levels begin to rise at an unprecedented rate. CO2 levels are now at the highest rate they have ever been in the history of humans on earth. This is due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas.
Let Bill Nye The Science Guy explain it in under five minutes:
“But I’ve heard that there is a “debate” about climate change. Why are you so sure?”
The debate has been fabricated by the fossil fuel industry. In the past, the tobacco industry spent millions of dollars to confuse people about the medical science demonstrating that smoking tobacco causes cancer. Today, the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil (and probably others) have spent tens of millions of dollars to confuse people about climate change and renewable energy. Greenpeace has thoroughly documented the funding complex behind this, as has the Union of Concerned Scientists (click here for an awesome slideshow).
Climate change as much a social justice issue as it is an “environmental” issue.
If you are passionate about social justice issues like fighting sexism, racism and homophobia, then climate change is something you should become passionate about as well. Climate change disproportionately impacts women. Climate change has been deliberately called “racist” (although of course physical and chemical processes can’t be intentionally racist – but the effects are disproportionate again). In general, the more marginalized and lacking in access to resources a group of people are in a society, the harder they will be hit by climate change.
Here is a brief video called Intro To Climate Justice, better explaining the disproportionate impact of climate change on people – who is causing the problem and who is most impacted:
What can you do about it?
This is a complicated question with complicated answers. Reducing your carbon footprint is one place to start as an individual. But we formed our 350 group not to encourage people to drive less or eat less meat (both individual actions technically reduce carbon emissions). We formed this group to help people get more of a political will to fight climate change. The solutions to these problems will not lie simply in slight consumer shifts in what people buy or how they live their lives, although these minor actions are impactful and do add up. We need to use our power in numbers to pressure the fossil fuel industry and the government with both our words and bodies to make sure massive changes in society take place. People around the world who are impacted by our actions and inactions deserve better, and we need to hold ourselves accountable.