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Radha Adhar’s Blog

Are Millennial Voices the Answer to the Climate Fight?

Radha Adhar

Posted August 15, 2011 in Environmental Justice, Solving Global Warming, The Media and the Environment

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I was born in 1986. Which makes me a member of the millennial generation.

I want be a source of information for youth who don’t know about climate change but want to learn. I want to help give a voice to young people. I want to give access to action for those who want to be involved in the climate change movement, but don’t know how and where to direct their efforts. I want to play a role in moving us much closer towards our common goal of sustaining this wonderful planet we call home.

The world describes us as “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living”. We are the generation that helped elect the first African-American president. We are the most educated generation in American history. We are the world’s most progressive generation.

We are also the first generation to realize the effects of climate change in a tangible way. And, sadly, we will be living with its consequences for decades. Headlines like this, this, and this litter our front pages.

It can be overwhelming. Depressing, even, and I wonder *sometimes* is it game over for us? Are we taking this problem seriously enough? Just look at what happened last year with the demise of climate legislation when we all “thought” THIS IS OUR MOMENT.As it turned out it wasn’t the moment we all had hoped for, but was it something more meaningful? Was it a lesson of the need to be steadfast and tenacious?

Then I look at what we, the millenials, have already achieved. It’s hard to believe that the ultimate tipping point that resulted in the election of the nation’s first African-American president would have occurred without the en masse action of the millennial movement. Would the Arab Spring’s democratic movements have spread across the Middle East without the millenials’ public protests, organization and concerted action through social media? We need to work together once again towards the most important common goal in a generation: doing something about climate change.

Others may continue to debate. Whether it’s our parents disputing in the kitchen whether climate change is real or not (A waste of time!), congress, or a talking head on TV, for us the evidence is indisputable. In a Center for American Progress report I recently read about the politics of millenials, it said:

  • More than two in three younger Americans agree with progressive perspectives on energy, sustainable living, and climate change, government efforts to protect people, and new steps to fight inequality.
  • When asked whether “America must play a leading role in addressing climate change by reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions and complying with international agreements on global warming”, 73% agreed and 38% strongly agreed.

With statistics like these it is hard not to be optimistic! And just imagine what will happen when all of us together -- the youth who believe the U.S should do something—turn that belief into action? We would win!

If you are like me, you were taught in grade school to think of environmental events as being infinitely slow. But climate change is happening at a pace unparalleled in recorded history. To beat it we have to make this our space race. It is our generation’s paramount challenge. The scientific evidence is too convincing to ignore, and it is we who will bear most of the costs if the United States fails. We have a clear moral imperative, a legal right and necessity to do something.  

This is the most important fight, and we are the most important voice.

*Please send me your stories and questions!

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Comments

Daniel FernandesAug 16 2011 11:50 AM

Dear friend,

In your text you say that "The scientific evidence is too convincing to ignore" but the fact is that that evidence you are basing your opinions on were, and continue to be, ignoring other data. Any gas with three atoms is a greenhouse gas and therefore retains heat. The most ever common gas with three atoms is water, which as you certainly know is the substance everything alive is made of. How come water vapor does not show on those charts? Or when it does, how could it ever be a tiny fraction of the atmosphere if the earth is more water than anything else?

I do not intend to say there is no global warming. There is. But is not man made. It is something natural that occurs every once in a while in Earth's million years.
However, resources do are finite, and towards that I completely endorse any efforts!

Kind regards,
Daniel Fernandes

NelsonAug 16 2011 04:50 PM

Daniel,

Water is a greenhouse gas, and a significant one. The reason it's not usually cited is because the water vapor content of the earth's atmosphere has been relatively stable for a very long time now, unlike those gases which are direct byproducts of human industry and have increased pronouncedly with the growth of said industry. There will be some minor variation with the onset of ice ages when colder air simply can't hold as much water vapor as warm air, but it's not necessarily a strong effect that that change exerts on overall temperature trends.

It's not that it's irrelevant or that scientists are willfully ignoring it; it's that it's part of the largely-unvaried baseline and therefore is deemed unnecessary to depict when the purpose of a chart is to demonstrate that changes have occurred the concentrations of other compounds.

I hope that helps to explain!

-Nelson

robyn fischerAug 16 2011 06:39 PM

Daniel,

You should investigate the IPCC's publication that discusses water vapor's impact on climate change (http://www.grist.org/article/climate-scientists-dodge-the-subject-of-water-vapor, the link is found in the last comment).

You are correct in saying that heating is a natural phenomenon; since earth's inception there have been trends of warming and cooling. However, anthropogenic emissions (aka GHGs) such as CO2 and SOx have rapidly increased the rate of warming in our earth's atmosphere, which results in faster rates of evaporation and transpiration. So, factoring in water vapor's effect on climate change is not the issue, what you should be concerned about is analyzing how we can reduce anthropogenic emissions.

Overall, the claim that Ms. Adhar makes is that the youth should become more involved in the green movement, and I agree. Being a a millenial myself, I fell our generation needs to help combat climate change; It is our civic duty. Through community engagement/education, grassroots efforts, and lobbying for Congress to enact sound environmental legislation, the millenial generation could be an overwhelming force in helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

SpaceAug 17 2011 11:51 AM

Daniel I would be careful in reading the IPCC 2007 AR4 as this is a political organization and there is much information that is not peer reviewed or which made ii into the report that shouldn't have. If you do read IPCC 2007 AR4 I would recommend you also read the the peer review notes/comments which identify many problems with the accepted final version as well as reading the assessment by the independent review committed of IPCC AR4 known as the InterAcademy Council.

You need to also keep in mind that the IPCC is a political organization with a mandate to show that man causes climate change and while that is true you must be cautious as much of the science has been exaggerated or provided by environmental advocates rather than objective scientists as was seen in a recent IPCC release on sustainibility that contained alot of Greenpeace information.

If you want balanced information Judith Curry's Blog is excellent and althoughv ery heavy on physics and math, Dr. Curry presents the information in an easy to understand format.

John LiffeeAug 17 2011 12:29 PM

@Space:

Good grief, what a collection of misinformation. For thorough debunking of your first two paragraphs, see items 14, 21, 25, 35, 92, 106 on the skepticalscience.com website. For starters.

As for Judith Curry, she's about the only legitimate climate scientist of note who's taken a sometimes-contrarian view with respect to IPCC's conclusions. And that's okay — the normal progress of science is messy and involves debate.

SpaceAug 17 2011 02:39 PM

John calm down. Skepticalscience.com is an anti-skeptic site with a politcal agenda. John Cook is not a scientist like Judith Curry and is out promoting his book and trying to cash in like Al Gore IMO. The site is often incorrect sometimes ignoring new data (sea level rise slow down for instance), cherrypicking data (incomplete graphs) and creating many straw man arguments. Daniel would be much better off with more honest and open minded people like Mark Lynas, Andy Revkin or Keith Kloor who have reported honestly on the IPCC/Greenpeace fiasco. I don't begrudge John Cook making a buck from marketing and promoting his point of view but he would not be an unbiased source of information on climate science especially as he is profiting from it. Reading the peer review of the IPCC 2007 AR4 from scientists with criticisms of the material in the IPCC report for oneself is a better way to understand the IPCC problems than reading someone elses agenda driven filtered view is it not? That's what I did, I read the peer review by climate scientists.

I'll leave with a great book recommendation from Duke university's Orrin Pilke (a warmist) called ' Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future', which illustrates the absurdity of faith we put into climate models. The IPCC has been far too dependent on models to create future climate scenarios that agree with their predetermined political views and used in preparing their Summary For Policy Makers. The IPCC aslo plans to ignore recommendations from the IAC in continuing to use non-peer reviewed material for its next report. My standards of physical science are higher than that of the IPCC in this regard.

Ben VanderVeenAug 17 2011 02:53 PM

I applaud your article, and am more concerned than most of my (Millennial) peers about issues concerning the environment. I'm not at all surprised to see the comment board get flooded with 'Data Obscurers', and those that would rather drag confusing semantics into the conversation rather than get to the core of the issue: Most developed-world people live unsustainable lives. I live in Portland, Oregon, a city known for 'green' lifestyles, and even here we have huge problems to overcome. A carbon tax NEEDS to happen, along with actual altruistic moves by corporations and organizations to lessen carbon footprints. But most importantly, people need to get in touch with the natural world around them. Empathy will breed compassion and responsibility.

John LiffeeAug 17 2011 03:46 PM

@Space — I just don't have the energy to once again go dig up references debunking each one of the apparently un-killable assertions you make. (The silly attacks on the IPCC just keep coming.) Everything you touch on is a bedraggled, well-worn article of faith for the army of know-nothings polluting the blogosphere.

Who the hell are you to make a judgment on the overall import of the peer-review comments going into AR4? Unless you're an experienced, published climate scientist, you are not competent to do so. You've read the comments — well, how about the entirety of the scientific record on the subject, compiled over time?

That's what gets me above all else about the disinformation machine (aside from the fact that it has delayed action to the point where major consequences of a changing climate are nearly inevitable): the notion that thousands of academic researchers around the world, and all that fieldwork documenting the changes that are underway, are somehow united in a giant cabal to pull the wool over the world's eyes. To protect their research grants and barely middle-class salaries. It's just ... ridiculous.

SpaceAug 17 2011 09:37 PM

John I am a physical scientist with family members working in the field of climate science. I download my own climate data to gain understanding and have spent countless hours researching by reading peer reviewed papers. Thanks for asking.

You again, only provide a far left Soros funded link in trying to dismiss my reading of peer reviewed notes on the IPCC 2007 AR4. I'm trying to be apolitical and objective. I didn't tell Daniel not to read the IPCC 2007AR4 I just tried to give him a heads up as to many of its weaknesses and suggested he also seek unbiased sources of information beyond the IPCC.

I recently read more than a dozen peer reviewed papers showing that Arctic summers were likely often ice free over the past 12,000 years ago and that Arctic temperatures were 2C to 4C degrees higher than today in the last 12,000 years. I've looked at GISP2 data on my own and sea level rise data. I really don't understand your intolerance to advice that suggests that individuals do their own examination of the science if so inclined. It isn't that hard and at the very least they would gain a greater appreciation for how great the uncertainties are in the model projections. It isn't that hard for anyone with a physics and math background to understand the IPCC models and it isn't that hard to established parameters of falsification for the IPCC models. You should be encouraging people to apply the Feynman approach to climate change.

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