Climate Change 101 - what's worked best for you?

For ClimateX members and others who'd like a quick overview of climate change, there's a great plain language summary available here, courtesy of the New York Times.  Do let us know which of the topics you'd like us to cover in greater depth on our site.

Do you have a different take on any of subjects covered?  If so, tell us why, and what evidence leads you to that conclusion.

If you've used this summary or similar basic information in your work to spur action, please let us know what's worked.

Thanks and best wishes,



Curt Newton's picture

Thanks for raising this, Dave

Thanks for raising this, Dave.

I'm deeply interested in how we have conversations (and conversions) about climate change with people that still aren't sure it's all that pressing. They are neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. They are feeling the climate challenge is not theirs solve, or it's not going to affect them (at least anytime soon), or they're struggling with other day to day matters that feel more pressing.

So I appreciate Justin Gillis' effort to boil down some common questions and first-order responses to their essence. I've been using and sharing it since its initial version in November 2015, and it's interesting to see how it's evolved.

The measured tone remains, and I think it's part of the intended message. It's not cranked up but certainly serious, and became more pointed in the new version. I think the tone is just right to make the piece open and approachable for the uncommitted reader.

Good to see the original's unstructured stream of questions grouped now into three sections. More significantly, the word count was pared down by about 40%; there's less background, fewer examples, but also less equivocating. It's gotten punchier, I think overall a good thing.

Here's a few specific observations.

"How much trouble are we in?"
This answer used to begin "For future generations, big trouble." That's been changed to "Big trouble."  Yes, indeed... the future is now.

"How much should I worry about climate change affecting me directly?"
Glad to see this followup question, a new addition, making an overdue nod to climate justice in the replies "Are you rich enough to shield your descendents?" and "poor people will be hit first and hardest."

"Is the recent crazy weather tied to climate change?
I think the paragraph on climate + hurricane connection suffers from being too simple (too few words). I understand the science on SOME trends - # of most severe storms, their energy and moisture capacity - to be clear and undisputed. But this reply is a broad-brush dismissal of the whole climate change + hurricanes connection as "uncertain or disputed." Seems like a missed opportunity to clarify this common confusion, especially in the wake of such an intense hurricane season. 

What can I personally do about [climate change]?
I agree with the lead-in sentiment that "the most important thing you can do is to exercise your rights as a citizen, speaking up and demanding change." Glad to see this up front, as in the original it was more of an afterthought to the conventional lists of "fly less, eat less meat, etc..." But I wish he went deeper here, and beyond the sense this can just be individual actions.  Voting, calling your legislators, maybe even going to a march are all good.  But the necessity to organize and mobilize together, to build stronger inclusive movements and bring that power to bear together, seems to me the most impactful thing individuals can do. 

Rick Shankman's picture

"Do you have a different take

"Do you have a different take on any of subjects covered?  If so, tell us why, and what evidence leads you to that conclusion."

Yes Dave, I have a different take on (the real author) Justin Gillis' views of climate action... 

"Some environmental groups have contended that the best way to combat climate change would be for governments to impose tight regulations on businesses that produce greenhouse gases....

Some environmental groups and academics have never reconciled themselves to the idea of a market in pollution rights, and Europe’s problems have heightened their doubts. So far, they point out, global emissions are still rising....

But the system has worked smoothly for several years, generating $1.7 billion that nine state governments in the Northeast have used largely to support clean-energy projects. Those investments, as well as utilities’ switch to cleaner natural gas, have sharply reduced carbon emissions in the region."

Yep, I'm one of those "tight regulation" folks who doesn't need to see another climate change action discussion "framed" in terms of choices of (fossil fuel industry conceived) carbon pricing schemes.

See... A Price Tag on Carbon as a Climate Rescue Plan

Then, of course, there is Shell (subject of my earlier post today - now deleted by ClimateX off the timeline), using MIT to legitimize its views on carbon pricing schemes...

"This is where carbon pricing could have a huge impact.  Unfortunately, it's cheaper to emit CO2 than it is to capture it.  So, we need a policy to change that calculation.  The most straightforward solution is for governments to enact policies that put a price on carbon globally....

Shell is a member of - and provides funding to - the MIT Energy Initiative."

See... HARNESSING HUMAN INGENUITY​ at the Shell Global website.