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The Top Ten Reasons to be Hopeful on Climate Change

By: Jeff Masters 5:57 AM GMT on December 16, 2015

Bob Henson and I are in San Francisco this week for the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest climate science conference. Over five thousand of the world’s top climate scientists are here, giving a staggering 10,000 talks and poster presentations. It’s total information overload, and Bob and I will only be able to offer a small sample of the incredible amount of science being presented here.

My favorite talk today: “Barrier Busting: Leapfrogging Zombie Science Arguments to Get to Solutions," by my favorite communications expert, Susan Hassol of climatecommunication.org. She argued that emphasizing the solutions to climate change rather than talking about the science, is a better way to communicate to the public. Talking about the science of climate change often leads to confusion, due to long-discredited arguments by climate change deniers that rise from the dead like zombies. But people are very supportive of actions to take action on climate change, regardless of their views on the science. For example, 72% of Republicans and 68% of conservative Republicans support efforts to develop clean energy, even though far fewer than half of them believe that the climate is warming and humans are responsible.

Susan presented her top list of reasons to be hopeful about climate change:

10) President Obama has put climate change at the top of his agenda.

9) The Pope has framed climate change as a moral issue.

8) China has become highly motivated and engaged, and naysayers can no longer claim that we shouldn’t do anything because China is not.

7) Emissions and the economy are decoupling: for the first time, we had a year where the economy grew, but emissions of greenhouse gases did not.

6) The cost of solar power is falling fast.

5) Solar energy capacity is growing rapidly.

4) Wind energy capacity is growing rapidly.

3) Half of all new power resources coming on-line globally are in renewable energy, and that percentage is near 70% in the U.S.

2) Businesses are engaging in promoting climate change action.

1) The Paris Accord! The nations of the world have now dedicated themselves to decarbonizing the world economy.

Climate change solution resources
Susan recommended four websites with resources that help people understand potential solutions to climate change issues (all are all linked at https://www.climatecommunication.org/resources/#websites):

1) Climate Interactive, which develops simplified yet scientifically rigorous models that can help people see the climate impacts of various policy choices and emissions pathways.

2) The Solutions Project, which lays out how we can accelerate the transition to 100% clean renewable energy. They’ve created renewable energy plans for all 50 U.S. states and many countries.

3) The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, a global collaboration of energy research teams across 16 countries that charts practical pathways to deeply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

4) Energy Innovation, which seeks to accelerate progress on clean energy by identifying and supporting policies that most effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions using research and analysis.

Video 1. Emphasizing the solutions to climate change rather than talking about the science is a better way to communicate to the public on the subject, argues my favorite communications expert, Susan Hassol of climatecommunication.org, in her 2015 TEDx talk “ClimateTalk: Science and Solutions.”

Jeff Masters

Climate Change

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.