Over twenty-eight years have passed since James Hansen’s historic Congressional testimony about anthropogenic global warming. Scientists knew about global warming before then, and further research has greatly improved our understanding of it. But Hansen’s testimony is a clearly identifiable moment in history when both the government and the general public of the United States were informed by the scientific community about the emerging climate crisis.
For the past twenty-eight years, many individuals, groups, and public institutions have sought to take action on this climate crisis. An amazing amount of groundbreaking scientific research has been conducted so that we might better understand climate science in general and global warming in particular. Various social, economic, political, and technical solutions have been proposed. Some of these are being implemented. Others have been attempted but failed or were defeated. Others still have not yet been attempted at all, or have been implemented on too small of a scale to make a difference in global emissions. The end result is that in spite of our best efforts to date, our greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing. Even if all nations meet their Paris Climate Accord pledges, the world will still significantly overshoot the two degrees Celsius goal.
In other words, time’s up!
Only swift and dramatic action can change our course in time to avert the worst of this global catastrophe. How can we mobilize such action before it’s too late?