On November 14, citizens worldwide who are concerned about our changing climate tuned in to a unique, global event involving hundreds of experts. 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report is a live, online broadcast led by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore. (Mr. Gore is also a WRI board member.)
Photo credit: Flickr/ Pam_Andrade
The event featured news and discussion on climate change from all 24 time zones. I joined a panel discussion on the U.S. response to climate change, as well as how business is responding to our changing planet. (Check out the panel on the Climate Reality Project website).
As climate change impacts are becoming more apparent, this is a critical moment for people around the world to engage in this issue.
Climate Change Action Is Urgent and Overdue
Climate change is already here. We are seeing more extreme weather events -- many with links to climate change -- around the world. Wildfires in Russia and droughts in the Horn of Africa and across the western United States; floods in Bangkok and record storm surges in New Jersey and New York -- these are just a harbinger of what is to come in our warming world.
The economic costs of extreme weather events are rising steeply. A recent Munich Re report found that over the past 30 years, weather-related catastrophes cost more than $1 trillion in North America alone, an average of more than $34 billion per year. Moreover, the toll on people's lives is incalculable.
With political leadership lagging, it's time to re-engage in a serious global dialogue around these issues. Events like the Climate Reality Project's global broadcast can send a clear message that people want action. They empower citizens with information and create networks to press for change.
A Window of Opportunity
The global economic crisis and lack of a major breakthrough in international climate negotiations has slowed concerted action to combat climate change in recent years. But a new window of opportunity is opening:
- China and the United States, the two countries that emit the most greenhouse gases, each have major political shifts this year that would seem favorable to increased action on climate. We need these leaders to engage in greater collaboration on the global issue. As President Obama said earlier this week, climate change is real, and "we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it."
- Many leading businesses are also increasingly recognizing the risks associated with climate change, and some are taking a more proactive approach to addressing these challenges.
- The next round of UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, is another important moment where international actors can come together around global solutions to climate change. We need world leaders to take concrete steps toward a strong and ambitious climate agreement by 2015.
The public increasingly recognizes that climate change is here - and that the world is on a dangerous track. A new poll this week found that 68 percent of Americans view climate as a serious threat -- notably this is up by 22 points from 2009.
24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report ran from November 14-15, 2012.
At 10 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Manish Bapna took part in a panel discussion on the U.S. response to climate change, focused mainly on clean energy development and private sector climate risks.
At 7 a.m. EST on Thursday, Ailun Yang, a senior associate with WRI's climate and energy program, joined a discussion on climate change in China and Asia.
Follow Manish Bapna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ManishBapnaWRI