The Loma Prietan - November/December 2012

My Three Days with Al Gore

by Megan Fluke Medeiros

Chapter Conservation Program Manager Megan Fluke Medeiros will be speaking regularly about climate change. "There may be an Earth where climate reality doesn't matter, but it isn't this one," she says. Photo: Jurek Guterman
Chapter Conservation Program Manager Megan Fluke Medeiros will be speaking regularly about climate change. "There may be an Earth where climate reality doesn't matter, but it isn't this one," she says. Photo: Jurek Guterman

I had the honor of participating in the North American Climate Reality Project Training August 21-23 in Burlingame. Now I get to say the fun phrase, “I’ve been trained by Al Gore to give his presentation!”

What if your child were sick with symptoms you had never seen before? You would likely rush him to your doctor. Let's say that the doctor informs you that your child has an extremely rare disease that is curable but needs immediate medical attention. Being conservative, however, you consult the 100 top specialists on this rare disease. All but three agree that your child will suffer if left untreated; the other three recommend you wait to see what happens before taking any action. What would you do? Would you postpone treatment in case the 97 were wrong?

The situation above probably seems pretty ridiculous. However, 97% of climatologists most actively publishing in the field today agree that the severe increase in heat-waves, rainstorms, floods, droughts, fires, and storms are signs of human-caused climate change. Furthermore, the National Academy of Science of every major country confirms human-caused climate change. What action has the United States taken? None. Because 3% of climatologists disagree.

The first message of Al Gore's new presentation is that we are already seeing climate change. Have you heard from someone that the weather is just weird? Have you thought it yourself? Climate change stares back at you from the world news and the weather report. The 2011 floods in Pakistan affected 5.8 million people, even as the nation struggled to recover from record inundations the previous year. A typhoon in Taiwan dropped 45 inches of rain in 48 hours in October 2010; over 380,000 people were evacuated. Manaus, Brazil had the driest year on record. The 2012 "Derecho" windstorm in Indiana killed at least 18 and left a million without power for five days. The 2012 drought brought disaster declarations to 1,462 counties in 32 states. China set its temperature record, 122.4 degrees, in 2012. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record in the US have happened in the past decade

There is Hope

Gore’s second message is that there is still hope; solutions are at hand. "The more solar and wind we buy, the cheaper it gets. The more gas we buy, the more expensive it gets," he points out. Here’s what’s happening around the world in renewable energy: United States wind capacity reached 40 gigawatts in 2010, exceeding projections by a factor of four. China, projected to reach 500 megawatts of solar power by 2020, reached almost double that by 2010. India plans to quadruple renewable energy generation by 2022. In 2013 the Ivanpah Solar Facility in California’s Mohave Desert will power 140,000 homes. The Vatican is currently working towards being energy-neutral.

Gore’s call to action inspired me: stand up to climate change skeptics the same way people stood up to racist comments during the civil rights movement. In some conversations, “climate change” may be politically incorrect. However, climate change is not just a political issue nor a national security issue; it is a moral issue. To help move this issue forward, I’ll be making one or presentations monthly.

There may be an Earth where climate reality doesn't matter, but it isn't this one. This is the only Earth we will ever have, or love, or touch, or tend for our children and their children. We know the science; we see families across the globe harmed today; we know that something must be done, and more than just changing a lightbulb. I encourage you to join the cause, do something; this is the only Earth we have.

Megan Fluke Medeiros has been the Chapter’s Conservation Program Manager since 2009.