What we don’t know about climate change can hurt us

Images from the Miami Herald

The dramatic collapse of the Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida along the coast north of Miami Beach led to questions about the possible contributing role of climate change. Understanding why it happened is a pressing question, not only because of the more than 140 persons missing or dead attributable to the collapse but because of hundreds of similar buildings that line the coast housing tens of thousands of people. Multiple factors may have been involved including subsidence and saltwater flooding the basement garage, and initial reports are that a full explanation may take years to complete.

In a previous post, I addressed the complex universe of corporate and financial claims to climate change leadership, lifting the veil on marketing claims to distinguish the good (and maybe good), bad, and truly ugly. So, what can and is being done to make companies and investors more responsive to climate change concerns? As it turns out, quite a lot. Announcements of relevant actions are being announced almost weekly at all levels — by national governments, U.S. agencies, state governments, and initiatives by international institutions, consortia of banks and investors, universities, and non-profit organizations.

A draft executive order prepared by…

The global oil industry is not going away and needs to become part of the solution to climate change

Picture by Chris LeBoutillier from Unsplash

The bigger they are, the harder they fall is a cherished belief among Americans especially when applied to large, politically powerful corporations. In recent weeks, Big Oil has joined the ranks of Big Tobacco and the makers of opioids in being called to task for its contributions to a major societal problem — in this case, climate change.

Exxon lost three board seats to a slate of clean energy reformers, an event almost without precedent. A Dutch court ordered Shell to significantly accelerate its planned greenhouse gas reductions. Chevron unsuccessfully opposed a shareholder resolution requesting the company to significantly expand…

There’s a growing sense of excitement among climate change experts, and it’s not about the jaw-dropping low prices of renewable energy that will help reduce the world’s CO2 emissions. Rather, it is an opportunity — the narrowest of windows — to make a huge, measurable reduction in the temperature of earth by reducing emissions of just a few pollutants.

If we time it right, we cool down the planet by 1 degree C this century compared to business-as-usual, keep warming below 2 degrees C, and avoid cooking our planet to a crisp. However, we must act quickly. The timing has…

Those of us who grew up with Kermit the Frog and his song are likely to think of “being green” as a binary state — either you are or you aren’t. But when it comes to corporate claims of good environmental behavior, and especially those with respect to climate change, there are many shades of green. Like the challenge in distinguishing shades of gray at dusk, it isn’t always easy to tell when a company’s claims to going green are credible. …

One in an ongoing series of blogs about responding to the challenges of climate change. Previous blogs are available at https://medium.com/me/stories/public.

Climate change is a complex and often contentious subject. Among the most hotly debated issues is a question about human behavior rather than science: is it better to scare people or give them hope to motivate action? A recent article in Nature summarized the issue: pessimistic messaging of the sort typical of Greta Thunberg (“I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I do.”) may foster paralysis rather than action, while optimistic messaging around singular…

Part 2: Adapting the Recipe for Climate Change

Based on the forthcoming book, Cut Super Climate Pollutants, Now!, by Alan Miller, Durwood Zaelke, and Stephen O. Andersen. Part 1 of this blog is accessible at https://alanmiller-64880.medium.com/the-secret-sauce-that-saved-the-ozone-layer-72863eef1063

In a previous blog I described the seemingly mundane process that brought about the remarkably rapid phase-out of ozone depleting substances, many also potent greenhouse gases. Credit for this is owed to one of the most successful international agreements ever achieved — the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The foundation for this success was the creation of panels of technical…

Part 1: Learning the Recipe

Based on the forthcoming book, Cut Super Climate Pollutants, Now!, by Alan Miller, Durwood Zaelke, and Stephen O. Andersen

Diplomats, like chefs, have established recipes (they call them “protocols”) for negotiating and reaching agreements. In the case of climate change, a a secret sauce from a largely unused recipe may be the missing ingredient needed to effectively address climate change.

More than 40 years ago, in 1987, a remarkably successful international agreement, the Montreal Protocol, was signed to protect the ozone layer that protects all of life on earth from harmful ultra-violet radiation. Based on…

Measuring impact of black carbon in the Arctic

Alan S. Miller

Based on the forthcoming book, Cut Super Climate Pollutants, Now!, by Alan Miller, Durwood Zaelke, and Stephen O. Andersen

The election of President Biden provides — finally — a realistic hope the worst of climate change can be avoided. But, before we can throw ourselves into a marathon race to become carbon-neutral by 2050, we must reckon with one hard truth: once emitted, CO2stays in the atmosphere for centuries. We are now within a decade of climatic tipping points that may put us past a point of no return as soon as 2030.

But we are not…

Polar bears face extinction with the melting of Arctic ice

Alan S. Miller

Much can be debated about how countries responded to the pandemic catastrophe: the United States perhaps was the worst of all. Yet the development of multiple vaccines in record time by scientists and pharmaceutical companies in several countries has been an extraordinary success — and may prove to be the model for avoiding an even greater climate catastrophe.

Cooperation between government regulators and pharmaceutical companies brought about effective vaccines in a matter of months, a process that under normal circumstances would have taken years. Primarily through billions of dollars in advance orders the governments removed financial risks…

Alan S. Miller

Alan S. Miller has worked to protect the ozone layer and address climate change for over 40 years and has taught at 9 universities in four disciplines

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