At the moment, the 4 percent of us in this country produce a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide - once you look at maps of rising sea levels and spreading mosquitoes, you realize that we've probably never figured out a way to hate our neighbors around the world much more effectively.
The models that have been constructed agree that when, as has been predicted, the level of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases doubles from pre-Industrial Revolution concentrations, the global average temperature will increase, and that the increase will be 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius or 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit... In Dallas, for instance, a doubled level of carbon dioxide and other gases like methane, would increase the number of days a year with temperatures above 100 degrees from 19 to 78 each year.
What we're talking about is the endless, gullible elevation of necessary levels of comfort and status and everything else at the complete expense of all around us. It's going to take us a long time to learn how to climb down a little bit from the heights on which we have put ourselves.
The religious environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured with more breadth and force than in RENEWAL. I hope this movie is screened in church basements and synagogue social halls across the country, and that it moves many more people of faith off the fence and into action.
... the constant flow of images undercuts the sense that there's actually something wrong with the world. How can there really be a shortage of whooping cranes when you've seen a thousand images of them - seen ten times more images than there are actually whooping cranes left in the wild?
All the things that we've done as a species have had a limited scope. We're talking about melting the ice caps, raising the level of the seas dramatically, changing the distribution of every other species on Earth, perhaps wiping out one-third or half of them. The changes at work are geologic in scale. The level of change required to deal with it is enormous, too. It will require change in every country. It will require a degree of global cooperation that we haven't seen before.
We're clearly not going to stop global warming at this point. We've already raised the temperature of the planet one degree. We've got another degree in the pipeline from carbon we've already emitted. What we're talking about now is whether we're going to have a difficult, difficult century, or an impossible one.
what sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it's dangerous (it's almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it's solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it's that five miles out in the woods you can't buy anything.
Often when I'm on TV, they'll ask what are the three most important things for people to do. I know they want me to say that people should change their light bulbs. I say the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb.
The end of nature sours all my material pleasures. The prospect of living in a genetically engineered world sickens me. And yet it is toward such a world that our belief in endless material advancement hurries us. As long as that desire drives us, here is no way to set limits.
Despite the array of groups and organizations working on global warming, we are still missing a key element: the movement. Along with the hard work of not-for-profit lobbyists, environmental lawyers, green economists, sustainability-minded engineers, and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, it's going to take the inspired political involvement of millions of Americans to get our country on track to solving this problem.
In the United States, cheap fossil fuel has eroded communities. We're the first people with no real practical need for each other. Everything comes from a great distance through anonymous and invisible transactions. We've taken that to be a virtue, but it's as much a curse. Americans are not very satisfied with their lives, and the loss of community is part of that.
There's no huge mystery. If you dig up huge amounts of carbon, huge amounts of ancient biology, hundreds of millions of year's worth of ancient biology, and flush it into the atmosphere in a matter of decades, then it stands to reason that we're going to have enormous effects, and now we can see those effects all around us.
The Old Testament contains in many places, but especially in the book of Job, one of the most far-reaching defenses ever written of wilderness, of nature free from the hand of man. The argument gets at the heart of what the loss of nature will mean to us....God seems to be insisting that we are not the center of the universe, that he is quite happy if it rains where there are no people - that God is quite happy with places where there are no people, a radical departure from our most ingrained notions.
Scientists are telling us that 350 parts per million [of carbon] in the atmosphere is the upper limit. We're at 387 parts per million now, and we're up in that zone where the risk of going past irrevocable tipping points is elevated. It's no different than going to a doctor and learning your cholesterol is too high, and you're at risk for a heart attack. You have to work to lower your cholesterol and hope to get there before the heart attack comes.
These things are happening in large measure because of us. We in this country burn 25 percent of the world's fossil fuel, create 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide. It is us - it is the affluent lifestyles that we lead that overwhelmingly contribute to this problem. And to call it a problem is to understate what it really is. Which is a crime. Crime against the poorest and most marginalized people on this planet. We've never figured out, though God knows we've tried, a more effective way to destroy their lives.