“THE TIPPING POINT” – How to Feel Optimistic about Stopping Global Warming

February 28, 2015

by Kevin L. Miller

Miller Faces in Paradise poster photo retouched Feb 28 15 017

above: “The Tipping Point,” digital poster by Kevin L Miller, 2015

In his wonderful blog post “GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: How Optimistic Are You When It Comes to Climate Change?” Feb 27, 2015,  at http://TwoOldLiberals.com , Paul Lewis expressed the way so many of us, including me, feel about our prospects for addressing the existential threat of global warming: “If you’re like me, you oscillate back and forth between depression and a guarded though still hopeful optimism when it comes to global climate change.” Paul recaps five hopeful trends reported in the Environmental Defense Fund’s “Solutions” magazine article, “A Plan for Climate Stability:”

  1. The November China/USA plan to limit global warming pollutants
  2. 10 years of industrial emissions decline
  3. A strong increase in clean energy adoption
  4. The existence of cheap technology to cut methane emissions by 40%
  5. Overwhelming support for climate action among young voters

It may be more than the young who support climate action according to a striking 2015 poll published in the New York Times about a month ago. The New York Times / Stanford University / Resources for the Future poll was conducted January 7-22 with 1006 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. The New York Times reported:
 
“The poll found that 83% of Americans, including 61% of Republicans and 86% of independents say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future.”
 
77% of Americans say that the Federal government should be doing a substantial amount to combat climate change — 90% of Democrats, 78% of independents, and 48% of Republicans said the government should be fighting climate change.
 
These results can be compared with Stanford University’s 2011 poll that asked if people believed climate change was caused by human activity. In 2011 72% believed that it was at least in part due to human activity. In this new poll 81% felt that it was. That’s a leap of nine percentage points in four years. If you believe that mass social and behavioral change of the magnitude required by this climate crisis must proceed largely from the grass roots up, then you will feel heartened, as I do, to know that we seem to be approaching a tipping point.

You know what a “tipping point” is: In chemistry, we know that some liquids will suddenly turn solid by adding the right catalyst. But we wonder how much catalyst is required. So we start adding the catalyst drop by drop until, BOOM! Suddenly the liquid turns solid! The same thing can happen with mass consciousness. We may be very close to the day when one more person will wake up to the moral imperative to take action on climate change, and BOOM! Mass consciousness will be solidly united in demanding that governments, corporations, the fossil fuel industry, all sectors of business, and all individual human beings make the changes required to arrest and reverse global warming.

Miller Poseidons Prophecy with head subhead 066

above: “Poseidon’s Prophecy,” 4×7 ft oil on canvas by Kevin L Miller, 2013 – poster, 2015

My tipping point optimism may seem like a fantasy to many people. It is partly based in a current practical example that proves the possibility of unlikely sudden change in mass consciousness. My wonderful, talented, handsome partner Robert and I have lived together for over 18 years, and until very recently we would never have dared to imagine that we might be able to become legally married. But it happened last June. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made same-sex marriage legal and we were wed by an ordained minister of the faith in which I was raised, in the best and most fun wedding either of us has ever attended. If you had told us just a year earlier that this would happen, we would have said you were crazy. It became possible because mass consciousness reached a tipping point on the issue of same-sex marriage. Public policy can shift and group behavior can change direction very suddenly, like a flock of birds, when just enough catalyst is added to change one more mind.

Miller Eve and Adam poster w outline Feb 2015

   “The Revelations of Eve and Adam,” 16″x20″ acrylic on canvas by Kevin L Miller, 2003 – poster produced in 2015

In his insightful Feb 27, 2015 “GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS” post on http://TwoOldLiberals.com Paul Lewis also recaps the Environmental Defense Fund’s recommendations for ways in which we can all help combat climate change:

  1. Make your home as energy-efficient as possible. (I’d add your work place, too.)
  2. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  3. Buy gas efficient vehicles, walk, bike, and take public transportation.
  4. Wash dishes/clothes in cold or warm water — not hot. (I’d add: use a clothesline.)
  5. Sign up for EDF action alerts to stay engaged at every level — Federal, state, and local ( www.edf.org/climateupdates .)

Paul is absolutely right to point out that EDF has neglected to mention the imperative of population control in combating climate change. The Earth is grievously overpopulated and buckling under our weight. We must adopt zero population growth behaviors — no couple should have more than two children. But we must also reduce the population of domesticated animals — a huge factor in our collective carbon footprint. One of the most effective things anyone can do, therefore, to combat climate change, is to become a vegetarian or vegan, or at least make the effort to eat less meat and fewer dairy products. Even if we all eliminated meat from our diets for just one or two days a week, it would make a huge difference.

Miller Free Our Mother Earth poster Feb 2015

above: “Free Our Mother Earth,” digital poster by Kevin L Miller, 2015

The main suggestion I’d like to add to the list of ways everyone can help, is just that we all consider becoming willing to talk about global warming openly, and do something — anything — about it. Let’s all ask ourselves three questions:

  1. What CAN I do?
  2. What am I WILLING to do?
  3. What am I QUALIFIED to do?

Make a list of actions that fit all three criteria and then choose some of those things to do, and start… one step at a time. TELL others about what you have decided to do and why. How can we begin to feel more optimistic about stopping global warming?… By taking creative action… By adding more catalyst to the solution, drop by drop, until one more drop finally brings mass consciousness to the tipping point and humanity suddenly lines up solidly behind the moral imperative to stop climate change for the children of tomorrow.

 

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