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There’s been so much reporting about climate change in recent years, and experts’ alarm is not in the least misplaced. The window for taking critical actions is quickly narrowing, according to the latest report by a group of international experts known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But the crisis has fueled impressive and necessary momentum among scientists, organizations, and individuals aiming to slow the planet’s warming. “I’m absolutely optimistic. When it comes to innovation, there’s a good amount of progress being made,” says Anna Stefanopoulou, Ph.D., a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and an expert on advances in battery energy storage.
Here are some technological breakthroughs and new approaches we can all get behind—and participate in—to keep the progress rolling and mitigate the impact of climate change as much as we can.
The electric car boom is coming
Electric vehicles are projected to make up 10% of those on our roads in the next few years, with cars, light trucks, and buses rapidly going electric.
Transportation produces the largest share—some 27%—of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If enough of us switch to EVs, that could keep more than 10 gigatons of greenhouse gases from being belched into the air in the next few decades, according to environmental nonprofit Project Drawdown.
Fifteen years ago, the idea of driving past gas stations to plug in our ride or charging up at home or at the office seemed like sci-fi. But now we all know about electric vehicles, and by 2030 fully half of Americans are expected to make their next car electric, according to a report from BloombergNEF. Tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and
batteries that now let people go up to 300 miles per charge are fueling the speedy adoption, Stefanopoulou says. By next year, car buyers will have some 20 new electric models to choose from.
Boosting electric vehicles is one of the most crucial components of curbing climate change. “The world must replace all gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles with a fleet of zero-emission cars, trucks, and buses by 2050,” states the climate action plan Speed & Scale. Such a shift will make us healthier too, as tailpipe emissions are associated with asthma, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and immune system damage, according to the EPA.
What vehicles are electrifying most quickly? Community buses, and that makes sense given they cover great distances each year and have had notoriously poor fuel efficiency. School buses are also great candidates, and last fall the EPA awarded $1 billion to school districts to help the wheels on the bus go round and round gas-free. And don’t be surprised if your next package is delivered via a clean (and silent) electric truck—companies such as Amazon are moving swiftly to switch over their local fleets.
We have better solutions for CO2
Companies are increasingly capturing CO2 from power and manufacturing plants and turning the waste into useful products.
Even if CO2 stopped being produced tomorrow (and we’re very far from that), there’s still too much in the atmosphere and the oceans to avoid warming the planet. To hit climate goals by 2050, the U.S. may need to vacuum up as much as 1,850 million tons a year.
One of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. is carbontech, which aims to remove some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and put it to safe and productive use. In short, carbontech techologies capture CO2 emissions from places such as coal and oil power plants and cement and steel factories or suck it directly from the air and oceans, says Volker Sick, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering professor and director of the Global CO2 Initiative at the University of Michigan. Companies do this with CO2 filters or CO2-attracting chemicals. Once it’s collected, the CO2 can be cleaned and used to make products or compressed and stored in tanks to be transported to another user.
DyeCoo, a Dutch textile company, is using reclaimed CO2 instead of water and processing chemicals to affix fabric dyes; Air Company, a New York City–based manufacturer, produces vodka and perfume made with the stuff. Sick expects captured CO2 to eventually be widely used in construction materials and plane fuels, and some estimate that carbontech will ultimately become a trillion-dollar industry. That’s in part because crucial products like plastics and medicines cannot be made without carbon; as we stop using fossil carbon, says Sick, demand for recycled carbon from CO2 will grow.
Solar power is more accessible than ever
People are banding together with other rooftop solar buyers through co-ops, saving both money and Mother Earth.
Electricity heats and cools our homes, cooks our food, and lets us get onto the Internet. But that energy doesn’t have to come from plants that burn fossil fuels, the planet’s largest contributor of greenhouse gases, according to Speed & Scale. Instead, we can power our homes cleanly and cheaply by installing solar arrays on our roofs. Solar today accounts for 2.8% of America’s power generation, but it’s growing fast: Some 500,000 new residential systems were installed in 2021, up 30% from the year before. And you don’t need to live in super-sunny Florida or California to benefit from solar—residents of Minnesota, Michigan, and even Alaska successfully use this renewable power, says Ben Delman, a spokesperson for the co-op Solar United Neighbors. Co-ops like this one can help you figure out whether your home is a good candidate for solar panels, and they organize free information sessions. Homeowners choose an installer through a competitive bidding process, with a proposal provided to each co-op member. Members then review their personalized proposals and decide whether they want to go solar.
Doing so can be economical, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Up-front costs with a co-op discount average about $15,000, Delman says, but that doesn’t include tax credits of up to 30%. “In general, you’ll probably save one-third or two-thirds of your current electric bill,” Delman says, with the majority of folks recouping their
investment in savings within five to 10 years. Other co-ops operating around the country include Solarize and Spark Northwest.
Cows don’t have to produce so much methane
Scientists are sprinkling seaweed into cow feed to dramatically reduce the methane the bovines belch into the air.
Methane accounts for some 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, and raising livestock is responsible for more than a quarter of that, according to the EPA. But when a handful of the red seaweed Asparagopsis was added to the usual cattle feed, it reduced methane in the animals’ digestive tracts by as much as 80% without changing the taste of the milk or the meat the cows produced, according to research published in the scientific journal PLOS One. “This is a rare win-win for the planet—it is simple and cost-effective, yet has a huge impact,” says Joan Salwen, CEO of Blue Ocean Barns, which cultivates the seaweed used in the study.
To get this climate fix out fast, Blue Ocean gives the feed to farmers; the cost is eventually paid by companies, such as Clover Sonoma Dairy and Ben & Jerry’s, that use the animals’ milk or meat. By the end of this decade, the company intends to have capacity to grow seaweed for all 100 million cattle in the U.S. Another company, Symbrosia, has
created a proprietary blend of red seaweed called SeaGraze that also cuts methane substantially.
Moms are making major change
More than a million people, mostly moms, are joining forces to push legislators and regulators to protect children from the ravages of climate change.
A dozen years ago, when major national climate legislation went down in defeat, the environmentalist (and mom) Dominique Browning saw one major reason it failed: There was no groundswell of worried parents urging lawmakers to do something about coal-fired plants spitting out toxic mercury alongside CO2, or methane-emitting fracking sites injecting unhealthy chemicals into the ground. “Parents weren’t engaging on big, systemic fixes because they weren’t being educated about the link between the climate crisis and their children’s health,” Browning says.
Working with donors and colleagues at the Environmental Defense Fund, Browning started Moms Clean Air Force. Its goal is to harness the energy of everyday Americans to press lawmakers to act. On their site, you can learn about issues in order to spread the word. Others sign petitions or use the group’s guidance to write to the EPA about things like supporting stronger methane rules. The group also trains volunteer “Supermoms” to call or present their concerns in person to their local and national representatives.
Browning believes the actions of Moms Clean Air Force helped make the climate-focused IRA legislation a reality by meeting some 300 times at congressional offices and hosting more than 100 public-awareness events about the bill. These Moms are successful on a local level too, Browning says, pointing to Mom-aided wins on methane rules in New Mexico and Pennsylvania and pressure from Orlando mothers that nudged a dirty coal-fired power plant to start transitioning to renewables. “Moms will do everything to keep our children safe, and now we’re uniting to take action that ensures cleaner air and a better climate for their future,” Browning says.
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- Generating power. Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions. ...
- Manufacturing goods. ...
- Cutting down forests. ...
- Using transportation. ...
- Producing food. ...
- Powering buildings. ...
- Consuming too much.
But we know the main sources of today's global greenhouse gas emissions: manufacturing (30 percent), electricity (26 percent), agriculture (21 percent), transportation (16 percent), and buildings (7 percent). We call these the Five Grand Challenges of climate change.What are 6 things we should know about climate change? ›
- More scientists are investigating ways to help people adapt. ...
- Big data will enable us to predict extreme weather. ...
- The world's food supply is under threat. ...
- We need to prepare for massive waves of human migration. ...
- Rising temperatures are already making people sick.
The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity.What are some interesting facts about climate change in 2023? ›
Pre-industrial CO2 levels were around 280 parts per million (PPM). In 2023, we are close to 420 PPM. The last time the atmosphere contained as much CO2 as it does now, according to WIRED, was more than three million years ago, when sea levels were much higher and trees grew on the South Pole.What are the top 10 solutions to climate change? ›
- Keep fossil fuels in the ground. ...
- Invest in renewable energy. ...
- Switch to sustainable transport. ...
- Help us keep our homes cosy. ...
- Improve farming and encourage vegan diets. ...
- Restore nature to absorb more carbon. ...
- Protect forests like the Amazon. ...
- Protect the oceans.
Symptoms of climate change are all around us: extreme weather, diminishing sea ice, year after year of record-breaking warmth, drought, fires, and stress to ecosystems. Many of these consequences will create hardship for humans.What are 5 ways to stop global warming? ›
- Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
- Drive less. ...
- Recycle more. ...
- Check your tires. ...
- Use less hot water. ...
- Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
- Adjust your thermostat. ...
- Plant a tree.
The Grand Challenge on Climate Change, Human Health, and Equity (Climate Grand Challenge) is a multi-year global initiative to improve and protect human health, well-being, and equity by working to transform systems that both contribute to and are impacted by climate change.What is asteroid grand challenge? ›
The Asteroid Grand Challenge is focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them.
Seven Grand Challenges are identified and presented in this article: Human-Technology Symbiosis; Human-Environment Interactions; Ethics, Privacy and Security; Well-being, Health and Eudaimonia; Accessibility and Universal Access; Learning and Creativity; and Social Organization and Democracy.What are 5 changes happening on Earth because of climate change? ›
Sea level rise, erosion, flooding, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity pose major threats. Increasing wildfire incidence and severity, heat waves, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are causing widespread forest die-off. Southeast.What are the five 5 elements of climate? ›
A. The elements of weather and climate are those quantities or properties that are measured regularly and include: a) air temperature, b) humidity, c) type and amount of clouds, d)type and amount of precipitation, e) air pressure, and f) wind speed and direction.What are the 3 worst causes of climate change? ›
Burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature.What are 4 key impacts of climate change? ›
More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people's livelihoods and communities.Are there any positive effects of climate change? ›
Also, studies show that, up to a certain point, crops and other plants grow better in the presence of higher carbon dioxide levels and seem to be more drought-tolerant.  But this benefit is a two-edged sword: weeds, many invasive plant species, and insect pests will also thrive in a warmer world.What to expect climate change 2030? ›
It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s,” as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas.What is 2030 climate change? ›
With the 2030 Climate Target Plan, the Commission proposes to raise the EU's ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.What is the 2050 climate challenge? ›
As part of the Paris agreement, countries around the world agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 'net zero' by around 2050.What is the most realistic solution to climate change? ›
The single-most important thing that we can do to combat climate change is to drastically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
Reduce your energy use, and bills
Put on an extra layer and turn down the heating a degree or two. Turn off lights and appliances when you don't need them. Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights. Make simple changes to how you use hot water, like buying a water-efficient shower head.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away. ...
- Volunteer. Volunteer for cleanups in your community. ...
- Educate. ...
- Conserve water. ...
- Choose sustainable. ...
- Shop wisely. ...
- Use long-lasting light bulbs. ...
- Plant a tree.
Nature feeling the squeeze
As a result, humans have directly altered at least 70% of Earth's land, mainly for growing plants and keeping animals.
While the effects of human activities on Earth's climate to date are irreversible on the timescale of humans alive today, every little bit of avoided future temperature increases results in less warming that would otherwise persist for essentially forever.Can climate change be stopped? ›
Yes. While we cannot stop global warming overnight, we can slow the rate and limit the amount of global warming by reducing human emissions of heat-trapping gases and soot (“black carbon”).What are 3 strategies being initiated to reduce global warming? ›
Mitigation strategies include retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient; adopting renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and small hydro; helping cities develop more sustainable transport such as bus rapid transit, electric vehicles, and biofuels; and promoting more sustainable uses of land and ...What does Jeremy Clarkson think of climate change? ›
The former Top Gear host confessed he found the “graphic demonstration” of global warming “genuinely alarming”. However, Clarkson does not appear to have yet embraced the green movement he once dismissed as “eco-mentalists”. “But we don't blame mankind for it,” he said. “We'll let Greta [Thunberg] do that.”What is the climate 21 project? ›
The Climate 21 Project taps the expertise of more than 150 experts with high-level government experience, including nine former cabinet appointees, to deliver actionable advice for a rapid-start, whole-of-government climate response coordinated by the White House and accountable to the President.What is the NASA mission to smash asteroid? ›
NASA smashed a spacecraft into an asteroid in 2022 in an attempt to move it, and the collision had more effect on the asteroid's orbit than predicted. An analysis of the smash-up and its aftermath has revealed why, and the results could teach us more about how to protect our planet from asteroids.What meteorite killed Dino? ›
Sixty-six-million years ago, a nearly nine-mile-wide asteroid collided with Earth, sparking a mass extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs and three-quarters of the planet's plant and animal species. Now we're learning that the Chicxulub asteroid also generated a massive “megatsunami” with waves more than a mile high.
Nasa has announced it plans to launch a mission to the 140-mile-wide rock in October 2023. The asteroid is thought to contain a core of iron, nickel and gold worth a whopping $10,000 quadrillion. That's enough money to make everyone on the planet a billionaire. Not that there are any plans to remove it!How do you get 12 wins in grand challenge? ›
- Picking a Deck.
- Master Your Deck.
- Playing in a Safe Environment.
- Playing while Mentally Stable and Healthy (DON'T TILT)
- Playing at less competitive times of the day – or year.
- Be Realistic.
- Avoid the Common Myths.
The committee suggested these Grand Challenges fall into four cross-cutting themes: Sustainability, Health, Security, and Joy of Living.What is an example of a grand challenge? ›
Examples of Grand Challenges
Thriving Earth Exchange - Scientists, community leaders and sponsors working together to solve local challenges related to natural resources, climate change and natural hazards. Center for Financial Planning - Creating a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession.
- #1. Power plants. ...
- #2. Agriculture. ...
- #3. Vehicles and transport. ...
- #4. Landfills. ...
- #5. Offshore drilling. ...
- #6. Fracking. ...
- #7. Deforestation. ...
- #8. Overfishing.
According to Dr. Wanelss's research, by the year 2060, nearly 60% of Miami-Dade county will be underwater. "Now since the ice melt started we're up to a rate of almost two feet per century," he says. Scientists say greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide are the root of the problem.What is a weird fact about global warming? ›
Fact 25: Since the industrial revolution in 1700, the level of carbon dioxide on earth has increased by 34%. Fact 26: By the year 2100, the average temperature will rise by 5.8 degrees as a result of global warming. Fact 27: Each year of the 21st century ranks amongst 14 hottest years since 1880.How will global warming be in 100 years? ›
Except under the most aggressive mitigation scenario studied, global average temperature is expected to warm at least twice as much in the next 100 years as it has during the last 100 years. Ground-level air temperatures are expected to continue to warm more rapidly over land than oceans.What are the scary effects of climate change? ›
But hyperthermia is not the only risk climate change brings to human life. Higher temperatures worsen air quality, negatively affect crop production, increase the spread of infectious diseases, and threaten freshwater deposits. A warming world also increases the intensity of natural disasters.What are the five most essential controls of climate? ›
There are six major controls of the climate of an area. These factors are latitude, elevation, nearby water, ocean currents, topography, vegetation, and prevailing winds.
The earth's climate is influenced and changed through natural causes like volcanic eruptions, ocean currents, the Earth's orbital changes, solar variations and internal variability.What is climate 5th grade? ›
Climate is the variation of weather conditions over long periods of time, usually years.What is a big fact about climate change? ›
The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.What are some fast facts about climate change? ›
Greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest levels in 2 million years and continue to rise. As a result, the earth is about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the 1800s. The last decade was the warmest on record. Many people think climate change mainly means warmer temperatures.What is a quick fact about climate change? ›
Two-thirds of extreme weather events in the last 20 years were influenced by humans. The number of floods and heavy rains has quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004. Extreme temperatures, droughts and wildfires have also more than doubled in the last 40 years.What are 4 major climate changes? ›
“Climate change” encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet, including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times.What are 5 ways climate change is affecting our lives? ›
Trauma from floods, droughts, and heat waves can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and suicide. More heat can mean longer allergy seasons and more respiratory disease. More rain increases mold, fungi, and indoor air pollutants. Mosquito-borne dengue fever has increased 30-fold in the past 50 years.What is a positive fact about climate change? ›
Also, studies show that, up to a certain point, crops and other plants grow better in the presence of higher carbon dioxide levels and seem to be more drought-tolerant.  But this benefit is a two-edged sword: weeds, many invasive plant species, and insect pests will also thrive in a warmer world.What is the biggest climate change issue? ›
Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet's diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate.What are cool facts about climate change for kids? ›
- 800 to 600 million years ago, the Earth was so cold that it was covered with ice.
- Every 40,000 years, the Earth changes positions and this cause climate change.
- The Earth is still in an Ice Age which started 2.5 million years ago!
Effects Of Climatic Change
The ocean level is rising, glaciers are melting, CO2 in the air is increasing, forest and wildlife are declining, and water life is also getting disturbed due to climatic changes.
The temperature in the Stratosphere actually increases as you go higher thanks to the ozone layer. Ozone smells like chlorine or burning wires. The Mesosphere is most meteors burn up, there are no clouds above the Mesosphere. Lightning is 30,000 times faster than a bullet and 6 times hotter than the sun!How bad is global warming facts? ›
Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and unleash more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier.