There are all these lengthy, important reports we should read about fixing climate change. If you are like me, you want to know what’s in them, but I don’t want to read them. Here is a case in point: “Solving the Climate Crisis”, a report from the Majority Staff of a House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. It came out last June and it is 528 pages long.
Most of you are probably thinking, if I have to choose between reading that report or Fatty Arbuckle’s biography, Barnes and Noble here I come.
So, I’m going to help you out. I’m going to reduce the report to from 528 pages to 528 words.
Before I begin, I want to tell you why the report is important. It illustrates the scope of the problem and the potential solutions. Climate Change is difficult to get your arms around. It is a vast existential threat that will require the commitment of vast global resources and political commitment to thwart. Knowing how all the moving pieces fit together will help us understand and support policy changes that are going to be recommended.
Ready? Here’s all we have to do to fix up Mother Nature and get back to a balanced carbon cycle that will save us from societal collapse and/or extinction. (If you want, read the section titles in bold type first and then go back to review the breakdown.)
Invest in Infrastructure to Build a Just, Equitable Clean Energy Economy
Breakdown: Build cleaner Electricity Sector / Build cleaner transportation sector / Upgrade buildings for efficiency and elimination of emissions / Invest in water infrastructure / Protect telecommunications from climate impacts / Cut pollution from oil infrastructure
Drive Innovation and Deployment of Clean Energy and Decarbonization Technologies
Breakdown: Support decarbonization technology / Accelerate financing for climate change mitigation / Expose climate-related risks to private capital and shift assets towards climate-smart investments
Transform U.S. Industry and Expand Domestic Manufacturing of Clean Energy
Breakdown: Rebuild US industry to global climate leadership / Invest in manufacturing of clean energy and zero emission technology / Develop, manufacture, deploy cutting edge carbon-removal technology / Cut emissions of super-pollutants
Break Down Barriers for Clean Energy Technologies
Breakdown: Align Tax-code with net-zero goal / Eliminate unnecessary tax-breaks for oil and gas industries / Put a price on carbon pollution
Invest in America’s Workers and Build a Fairer Economy
Breakdown: Ensure the Clean Energy Economy Benefits Current and Future Workers / Make a Federal Commitment to Workers and Communities / Support Health Care Needs of Coal Miners / Create Jobs Through Conservation, Reclamation and Restoration of Coal Mines and Abandoned Wells / Protect Workers from Extreme Weather Conditions
Invest in Disproportionately Exposed Communities to Advance Environmental Justice
Breakdown: Strengthen Enforcement of Environmental Laws in Environmental Justice Communities / Embed Environmental and Climate Justice in Federal Government Decision-Making / Ensure Meaningful Engagement with Environmental Justice Communities / Build the Capacity of Organizations & Communities Working Toward Environmental Justice
Improve Public Health and Manage Climate Risks to Health Infrastructure
Breakdown: Strengthen Planning on Climate Threats to Public Health / Ensure Public Health Supply Chains / Restore Global Leadership on Climate and Public Health / Support Community Preparedness for Health Impacts of Disasters / Increase the Preparedness of Nation's Hospitals and Health Infrastructure / Ensure Climate Resilience of Veterans Health Systems / Strengthen Mental Health Capabilities for Climate Resilience and Preparedness
Invest in American Agriculture for Climate Solutions
Breakdown: Increase Agricultural Carbon Sequestration / Reduce Agricultural Emissions / Increase Federal Technical Assistance to Farmers / Support On-Farm Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency / Create a Fair and Equitable Food System / Preserve Farmland from Development / Reduce Food Waste and Transportation
Make U.S. Communities More Resilient to the Impacts of Climate Change
Breakdown: Deploy Actionable Climate Risk Information / Support Community Leadership in Climate Equity / Partner with Indigenous Communities for Climate Adaptation / Reduce Climate Disaster Risks / Accelerate Disaster Recovery / Strengthen National Flood Insurance Program / Reduce Wildfire Risks / Support Community Resilience Against Wildfires / Build—and Rebuild—Using Resilience-Based Standards / Make Climate Planning an Essential Element of Federal Agency Operations
Protect and Restore America’s Lands, Waters, Ocean, and Wildlife
Breakdown: Capture Potential of Natural Climate Solutions / Make Public Lands and Waters a Part of Climate Solution
Confront Climate Risks to America’s National Security
Breakdown: Advance Climate Preparedness for Strong National Defense / Prepare for Security Impacts of Climate Change
Strengthen Climate Science
Strengthen America’s Institutions to Facilitate Climate Action
Restore America’s Leadership on the International Stage
Assess value of federal climate action
If my word-count tool is accurate the above summary in italics is exactly 528 words.
“Hey! You can’t fool me! That’s the table of contents!” Well, you are almost correct, but I make no apologies. What most of us forget is that there are several ways to absorb the contents of important but ponderous reports:
1. Read the whole damn thing. Bravo! Good for you!
2. Read the section summaries and work backwards from there.
3. Cherry-pick the contents and read only what you are interested in. This report makes that easy. All the items in the table of contents are linked directly to that part of the report.
The plan itself may seem daunting to you but remember how many people, organizations, institutions and governments are working on it. I’ll save the cost/benefit analysis of this plan for another time. I can tell you the cost of doing nothing is a hell of a lot higher than the cost of implementation.
So, next time someone asks you what we should do about climate change send them the link to this article. Finally, I challenge you to go to the report and take a look. It is well laid out and easy to understand and navigate. No, there are no pictures.
I know what you want to ask: Did "I" read the entire report?
I’m not telling. If I did read it you might think I’m an over-the-top, self-righteous, environmental-know-it-all with too much time on his hands! If I didn’t you might wonder what gives me the right to write on an environmental blog about a report I haven’t even read.
Have a nice day.
PS: Fatty Arbuckle’s life is actually quite interesting and worth the read.