|Understanding and Solving the Climate Crisis
Eunice Foote got it right way back in 1856. At her lab bench, she discovered that adding carbon carbon dioxide warms the air and would cause the earth's temperature to rise— in essence, the chemistry of global warming. During the next hundred years, scientists refined their measurements and proved unequivocally that burning carbon-based fuels was having a tremendous impact on the atmosphere of our planet.
Now every scientific academy in the world agrees that human emissions of greenhouse gases are altering the very climate under which human civilization has flourished over the last 10,000 years. Dire forecasts in hand, scientists warned every president since Lyndon Johnson to act, while facing a storm of industry-funded disinformation meant to confuse the public and influence elected officials. (At one congressional hearing, lines on a chart produced by NASA showing that the earth was warming as predicted were conveniently left off by an “expert” witness.) This damaging history of manufactured doubt has stymied action and brought us to a critical moment.
Not as often covered in the press is the good news: a robust transition away from fossil fuels is underway that will help mitigate warming impacts such as rising sea levels, heat waves, storms, droughts and wildfires. But with fossil fuels integrated into every aspect of modern life, no single “silver bullet” will do it. We are progressing on multiple fronts, igniting a new economy and ushering in a healthier world (did you know “solar installer” and “wind-power technician” are the fastest growing job classifications in the country?).
We’ll take a look at the most intriguing and game-changing advances. Not just clean and cost-competitive energy technologies like wind and solar, but also electric cars, buses and trucks, large-scale batteries, nuclear power and carbon-absorbing farms.
We'll also put a spotlight on communities building resilience to the changes that are coming. That’s what's happening here in the Bay Area. Organizations of all kinds are collaborating on innovative policies and engineering, including nature-based solutions like restoring wetlands to reduce pollution and protect from flooding. The drumbeat of bleak reports about climate can be discouraging – even immobilizing. But we can’t let that be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The world we get can still be the world we choose.
This course will reveal the surprising history of how we got here, offer vivid illustrations of the science and solutions now available to us and show how the actions you take now can hand the next generation a more livable future.