I'm Greg Wellman, and I'm swimming 5K in support of 350.org's efforts to stem the tide of global climate change.
Climate change is real, and it's been happening for decades. The physics that govern the warming of the atmosphere as CO2 concentrations increase have been well-understood since the 1800s. People have been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as a byproduct of energy production since the Industrial Revolution (a little bit then; a whole lot now). We didn't cause the problem on purpose, but we did cause the problem.
As the global average temperature rises:
- We'll see more rainfall (+1% per °F), especially more extreme rainfall (+3.5% per °F).
- Global sea levels will rise - not enough to drown most cities, but enough to turn the 100-year flood into the 10-year flood. We'll abandon old coastlines because it won't make sense to keep rebuilding them.
- We'll see increases in temperature-affected health conditions, naturtal disasters, flooding, infectious disease, and forced relocation.
- The UN estimates an increase of ~250,000 annual deaths worldwide in the 2030-2050 period. That's 5 million lives.
I don't mean to be bleak. We live in a marvelous age of alternatives to burning fossil fuels. We have more effecient technologies for energy use and clean technologies for energy production (particularly solar and wind). Purchased power agreements (PPAs) for new solar energy facilities are today roughly on par with natural gas, which already beats out coal.
We're also recognizing the waste inherent in industrial animal agriculture, where 10 calories of oil-based fuel are required to produce 1 calorie of meat. Closed-system farming is actually carbon-negative, using 0.8 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food. The rest comes from the sun.
We've taken baby steps in the right direction. Solar is economically viable and the fastest-growing sector of the energy industry. Wind power has become more commonplace. People are recognizing the value of limiting waste and increasing efficiency as they feel the pinch in their pocketbooks. Investors are asking tough questions of energy companies who have hidden or obfuscated the evidence of the linkage between burning fossil fuels and climate change.
But we can go faster, father, and further. Carbon neutrality, if pursued as a one-time expense, is estimated to cost roughly 3% of world GDP. Would you give up one annual raise to ensure a clean and habitable planet for your grandchildren? I would.
I'm asking you to support my swim for 350.org. 350 is one of the long-standing climate change awareness and activist organizations. They were talking about this problem long before I was willing to admit its existence. They're raising awareness for divestment from fossil fuel investments and investment in cleaner technologies.
Change is hard. But it's vital. Thanks for reading this far.