It is beyond good to see scientists marching this weekend. In a rational world they wouldn’t have to be in the middle of the political battle, but this is clearly not a rational world, since the warning that researchers sounded a quarter century ago about the climate has been essentially ignored.
But what about everyone who isn’t a scientist? We get to march next week in the Peoples Climate March, but in the meantime we might want to remind ourselves of the basic science behind the biggest crisis the world has ever faced. It’s not especially hard or complicated, and the better you grasp its essentials the better you understand how to explain our dilemma to others.
Hence, these two movies, which we made over the last few weeks with some of the planet’s best (and most straightforward) climate scientists like Jim Hansen and Katherine Hayhoe, with experts on environmental justice like Mustafa Ali, and with ace communicators like Maggie Gyllenhaal. You can watch them on your computer, of course, but they’re not designed to go viral on Youtube. They have a slightly different purpose: we hope they’ll be used in the weeks and months ahead for people who want to host teach-ins large and small.
Here’s the first video that will get you up to speed on climate science:
Here’s the second video which is all about climate solutions:
As I was working on the scripts, I was reminded of a few things that seem important to me, but which not everyone understands:
- Climate science is not some new invention. Scientists have been grappling with this question since the early 1800s, and converging on an understanding for at least 150 years. It’s a fascinating history—it’s worth meeting the human beings who gave us early glimpses of the way our climate works, and the ways we could tilt it out of whack.
- Even people who understand that climate change is a problem often underestimate the speed with which its breaking over our heads. And that matters because the pace of the crisis dictates the pace of the needed solutions. Bottom line: we need to work fast, because winning slowly is the same as losing.
- There’s a nearly perfect backwards relationship between how much of the problem you cause and how quickly you suffer. If you have never burned a gallon of gasoline in your life, chances are drought, flood, or rising sea levels are already haunting your life. That’s why justice is so crucial as we seek solutions.
If we can get those few points across, then we’re in a position to act on the good news: renewable energy is now available in quantities sufficient to help us deal with the crisis. We have sufficient sun and wind and water; the question is if we have sufficient political will.
Which is why those of us who made these new films hope you’ll invite others over to watch them, hope you’ll reserve a room at the library or the community college, hope you’ll commandeer the church basement some Sunday after services. We’ve put up a web page here where you can find all the resources you’d need to host a teach-in. We’re past the point where purely individual solutions can address this crisis; we need people coming together to force political change.
But people coming together to watch Maggie Gyllenhaal would be a start.