SIMPLE: How it Works
Heat in minus heat out equals change of heat. This fundamental principle governs everything in the universe, including a pot of water on the stove and our climate too. Earth is surrounded by vacuum so only radiation can transfer heat in and out iof the planet. Air is selectively transparent -- it lets visible light pass through unscathed but is nearly opaque to thermal infrared wavelengths. Burning carbon makes CO2 which absorbs even more outgoing thermal radiation. This progressively warms the world. It’s been easily measured and pretty well understood since the 1860s. We’re really sure about all this!
SERIOUS: Why it's Bad
Adding heat to Earth cooks our crops, evaporates our water, burns our forests, and raises the oceans. Without strong policy, we have the capacity to warm the world more in the next 200 years than it warmed over 100 centuries at the end of the last Ice Age. This would cause almost inconceivable destruction to natural ecosystems, the world economy, sociopolitical systems, and billions of people. It will get worse and worse until we stop burning carbon, & then won’t get better for centuries. The consequences of unchecked climate change are unacceptable!
SOLVABLE: What to do About It
Stop burning carbon! CO2 emissions are the product of (1) population, (2) GDP per capita, (3) energy intensity of GDP, and (4) carbon intensity of energy. GDP per capita is growing an order of magnitude faster than population. The fate of the world depends on collapsing energy intensity and carbon intensity even faster. We need to clean up the electricity supply and then electrify everything! The biggest challenge is balancing energy supply and demand, mostly with transmission but storage will also play a role. Nearly all the work will happen in the developing world. It will ALWAYS be urgent. Time will always be short There is no such thing as “too late” or “we’re screwed.” You really do have to solve this, so you will!