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Climate Leadership Now

5. Feeling Overloaded? Watch Just This One Climate Trend


These days, along with all the stress-inducing details of the COVID-19 pandemic, you're hearing a lot about horrific climate change impacts—extensive fires in California and large hurricanes in the world's oceans; dire effects of drought and sea level rise on the world's neediest peoples. As to climate change causes…well, there's so much science coming your way that it is impossible to absorb all of it.  Yes, you want to learn all you can about climate change and, most urgently, about how to address the problem, and you surely want to be involved at some level. But also, involvement can be stressful.  You may experience an overload of information, or of dread.


Consider managing your climate stress by doing something stress specialists often recommend: Take a break.  For a time, until you are ready to reengage, reduce the stressor itself. One way to do this is to focus just on the most compelling information and ignore the rest.


For instance, watch just one important climate trend, like the amount of CO2 in earth's atmosphere. There is a clear relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global warming. Watch this trend even once a year and you'll already know plenty about the future of the planet. Currently, CO2 concentration as measured at the top of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, is 415 ppm, and there are few signs of significant abatement even under the COVID shutdown. There has not been a CO2 concentration this high for some 3 million years...before human beings existed. Some scientists suggest we are on the way to 500 ppm, with unknown consequences.


Arguably, this is enough data to absorb all at once. So, focus, and relax. We're in this for the long haul.



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