THE BLOG

Time to Leave Our Bad Carbon Boyfriend

04/11/2014 10:43 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2014

Breaking up is a very difficult thing to do.

Unless you married your high school sweetheart, we have all done it. And it hurts. It is never easy to give up on the hope you shared as a couple -- the dreams, your favorite song and shared possessions. Building a life together holds so much promise.

But break-ups happen all the time and we find ways to move on and survive. We all understand this and do what is best for us during these difficult transitions. We make choices to make our lives better for the future.

I think it is time to admit that as a society we need to break up with our bad boyfriend, carbon.

According to the most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are already seeing the impacts on climate from greenhouse gas pollution on all continents and oceans. According to many, including noted climate scientist Michael Mann, we will continue to see significant changes into the future with warming of up to several degrees in many areas of the world within a few decades.

We should have listened to our wise uncles of previous generations who warned us about our abusive carbon-based boyfriend. Now it is too late to avoid some of the problems of global climate change. The carbon we have emitted over the last century is still acting to warm our atmosphere and will continue to harass us.

But we could at least break up now to avoid long-term damage.

I know it is hard to do. We all love the ease of our carbon-based energy system lubricated by shaft and open pit mines, fracking drills, and high-tension wires. We know we need to give all this up to make our world a better place for our children.

I also know that some of our best friends and cousins are telling us that carbon is not all that bad for us. They do not want us to break up. However, to whom are you going to listen to on issues of global climate change? All the scientists of the world, or your friend or cousin?

If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we have been on a slow break-up with carbon for years. We've been toying with building a life with other energy sources, such as wind and solar, but we have not really thought of them as serious long-term partners, mainly because of their maturity levels -- even with decades of relationship problems with carbon such as wars over oil, mountain top removal, oil spills and fracking. Our current greenhouse gas problem is finally urging us into the arms of another beau.

To date, green forms of energy account for just a fraction of our nation's energy production. But that would change if we finally ended our relationship with carbon.

We know that there are many fish in the sea. We have not flirted seriously with wave and tidal energy, algal fuels, and other forms of green energy. Plus wind and solar are starting to mature and look like serious boyfriend material after their more eccentric hippie years.

At this point, we all know that our boyfriend carbon is bad for us and nothing good will come from our relationship over the next several decades. The question is whether we have the courage to take a leap to seek a new relationship.

Whatever we do, I know that a break-up is the right thing for the children.