On a recent trip to Alabama, my cousin explained to me how his iPhone worked, and I remember being amazed at the number of things that you can do: camera, iPod, GPS, email — all in one. When I listened to the announcement on the radio that world carbon emissions reached a record high in 2010
, it hit me that perhaps our approach at solving the problem of climate change has kept Washington, D.C. in a stalemate.
In the age of multi-tasking, and multi-function gadgets, our expectations for solutions have changed: will we only buy into an idea if we have 10 reasons to do so? My younger cousin gave me 20 reasons why I should get an iPhone and I have to say, it was quite convincing. Perhaps we haven't been giving enough reasons to reduce our carbon emissions.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has published scientific articles and conducted studies about climate change since 1978. The largest general scientific society has, like the rest of the scientific community, tried to engage the public and decision-makers about the overwhelming evidence for human-induced climate change. Working in the AAAS D.C. headquarters this summer has shown me how important, yet how surprisingly insufficient the work of the scientific community has been in tackling climate change.
If we truly want to lessen the impacts of climate change, why don't we give the microphone to the Army
or to residents in Salina, Kansas
or perhaps to Walmart
? Why are they reducing emissions? National security, a competition, and hundreds of millions of dollars in savings, respectively.
While visiting my family in Alabama, I found another reason to reduce emissions where I least expected it: at a crawfish boil. Over dinner, a neighbor remarked, "I'm a tree-hugging Republican and I don't know why. On every other issue I vote Republican ... but when someone pollutes and it affects someone else, that's just wrong."