Why This Autumn Will Be a Hot Time for Climate Leadership and Solutions
As I write this, the world just had its hottest month in recorded history. Here in Washington D.C, where July is normally our hottest month of the year, we had our sixth hottest July on record. Our unusually hot days are combining with the quieter, less frenetic pace of activity that D.C. usually experiences in summer. Washington has historically been classified as subtropical, so dating back to the days before air conditioning, residents traditionally departed the city during summer months for the mountains or beaches. Congress leaves early, usually around July 4. The subways and roads are less crowded, making the commute a little easier for those of us who remain to prepare for the coming year.
In fall, the pace of the city’s activity picks back up. Schools and Congress are back in session. The roads and subways fill up. This fall will also be an especially opportune time to pick up the pace of climate solutions.
Climate change has never been as prominent in a presidential election as it is this year, between Hillary Clinton elevating the issue in her campaign and Donald Trump calling it a hoax. 64 percent of Americans are worried a “great deal or fair amount over global warming,” an eight-year high.
Tragically, more Americans and their families are now experiencing the floods, droughts, heat waves and fires that are becoming more frequent and stronger as our planet warms.
Louisiana is suffering historic floods, making this disaster the eighth “once-in-500-years flood” event America has endured in a little over 12 months. Residents of Maryland, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas have suffered through their own extreme events, with attendant loss of life and property. As Jonah Engel Bromwich says in Flooding in the South Looks a Lot Like Climate Change:
“Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like.”
The priority attention given to climate change in the presidential campaign this fall; record-breaking temperatures this year; heightened concern for the issue amongst all party groups; and growing firsthand experience of the impacts will create an especially strong opportunity this fall and beyond to catalyze and accelerate momentum and support for the climate solutions we need to protect our families, communities, and the natural world on which we all depend.
To build this momentum and broaden public support for climate solutions, on September 14-15, The Nature Conservancy, MacArthur Foundation, The Climate Reality Project, and ecoAmerica are hosting the American Climate Leadership Summit. 250+ invited national leaders from business, health, faith, government, and culture will collaborate, strategize, and be inspired on what we need to do in 2016, 2017, and beyond to accelerate climate solutions.
We are well underway for solutions and here are just a few of the positive signs:
- 20 major economies have grown their renewable use more than 70 percent in five years.
- Recent findings that 87 percent of personal vehicle travel needs could be met with existing, affordable electric vehicles; this has the potential to reduce anxieties that electric vehicles don’t have sufficient range and might strand their occupants, one of the barriers to electric car adaptation.
- Nature-based solutions are making communities more resilient to a changing climate and have the potential to achieve one-third of the carbon reduction we need (The Nature Conservancy and its partners are doing innovative work in this area.)
Even with these advancements, we need to increase the scope, scale, and rate of implementation of climate solutions in order to avert the worst impacts and create a more positive future, so if you are committed to accelerating climate solutions, consider joining with like-minded leaders at the Summit on September 14-15. Learn more here.
Kara Ball is the Program Director of our Blessed Tomorrow initiative.