More than a century ago, scientists proved that carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere could act like a thermostat — adding more CO2 would turn up the heat, removing it would chill the planet. But back then, most scientists thought that Earth’s climate system was far too large and stable to change quickly, that any fluctuations would happen over such a long timescale that it wouldn’t matter much to everyday life (SN: 3/12/22, p. 16).
Now all it takes is a look at the Weather Channel to know how wrong scientists were. Things are changing fast. Last year alone, Europe, South Asia, China, Japan and the American West endured deadly, record-breaking heat waves (SN: 12/17/22 & 12/31/22, p. 38). As I write this, torrential rains are bringing death and destruction to California. And with levels of climate-warming gases continuing to increase in the atmosphere, extreme weather events will become even more frequent.
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Given the vastness of this threat, it’s tempting to think that any efforts that we make against it will be futile. But that’s not true. Around the world, scientists and engineers; entrepreneurs and large corporations; state, national and local governments; and international coalitions are acting to put the brakes on climate change. Last year, the United States signed into law a $369 billion investment in renewable energy technologies and other responses (SN: 12/17/22 & 12/31/22, p. 28). And the World Bank invested $31.7 billion to assist other countries.
In this issue, contributing correspondent Alexandra Witze details the paths forward: which responses will help the most, and which remain challenging. Shifting to renewable energy sources like wind and solar should be the easiest. We already have the technology, and costs have plunged over the last decade. Other approaches that are feasible but not as far along include making industrial processes more energy efficient, trapping greenhouse gases and developing clean fuels. Ultimately, the goal is to reinvent the global energy infrastructure. Societies have been retooling energy infrastructures for centuries, from water and steam power to petroleum and natural gas to nuclear power and now renewables. This next transformation will be the biggest yet. But we have the scientific understanding and technological savvy to make it happen.
This cover story kicks off a new series for Science News, The Climate Fix. In future issues, we will focus on covering solutions to the climate crisis, including the science behind innovations, the people making them happen, and the social and environmental impacts. You’ll also see expanded climate coverage for our younger readers, ages 9 and up, at Science News Explores online and in print.
With this issue, we also welcome our new publisher, Michael Gordon Voss. He comes to us with deep knowledge of the media industry, experience in both for-profit and nonprofit publishing and a love of science. Before joining Science News Media Group, Voss was publisher of Stanford Social Innovation Review, and vice president and associate publisher at Scientific American. With his arrival, publisher Maya Ajmera takes on her new role as executive publisher. Under her leadership, we have seen unprecedented growth. We’re fortunate to have these two visionaries directing our business strategy amid a rapidly changing media environment.
Source link When it comes to the issue of climate change, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by its magnitude and complexity. But the truth is that, if we act now, there is much we can do to address climate change and keep it from spiraling out of control.
The science is now clear: global temperatures are rising and the climate is changing, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels and the excessive release of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere. Over the past few decades, we have seen a steady rise in temperatures, melting ice sheets and glaciers, drought, heat waves, floods and stronger storms, taking a devastating toll on the global climate.
However, despite the very real concerns and often frightening statistics, the challenge is still manageable. By investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other strategies, we can effectively reduce emissions and pause climate change. We have seen the success of countries in cutting emissions, taking concrete steps to reduce air pollution and limit the use of fossil fuels. Governments, businesses and individuals have all taken part in this effort, proving that it is within our capacity to rise to the challenge.
We have also seen how a shift to clean energy can bring jobs and economic growth, making it a win-win situation. In many cases, renewable energy sources are the cheaper option, and people everywhere are embracing the shift to a cleaner way of living and doing business. Solar, wind and hydropower are all growing rapidly, as technological advances make them more affordable and accessible.
Yes, we can meet the climate change challenge. We must take great care of the world we live in and do our part to make it better. By investing in clean energy solutions, we can reduce emissions and keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels. The facts are clear: We can and must act now to ensure the future of our planet.