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Climate Leadership Now

19. Hold on to Innovation: A Letter to My Students

Dear friends,


I am sorry to see you go. Yet, I am hopeful that you are moving on better armed to work on the climate and energy challenges ahead. As you know, I am pessimistic about Team Humanity's talent for collective effort. However, no one likes to wallow in negativity, and I have observed that I really do feel uplifted and even inspired when I see great innovations in the works. May I humbly suggest that, as you go forward, aligning yourself with climate and energy innovations in some way—as investors, inventors, employees, policymakers, or educated citizens—can bolster not only your spirits but also your net worth?


Should you or anyone you know have an interest in what high schools should be teaching on climate and energy, take a look at the new curriculum material coming this year from MIT, and, perhaps, take a moment to support its integration into local schools you care about. https://ceepr.mit.edu/cate/


Thanks for all you do.


Professor Andre


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14. Resting up here. How about you?


It's been a complex and challenging year for writers. Certainly for this writer. Brought out a new book in September (did you know that 98% of the books published in 2020 sold fewer than 5000 copies? Just saying...) and did a lot of fun things to promote it – keynotes, seminars, blogs, consulting, online teaching. All this guesting via multiple and evolving technologies has been good but stressful work. 


I've had a few thoughts during this time and I've been meaning to blog about them. Like the idea that Bill Gates' recent book How to Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need is nothing short of a Hail Mary on climate change.


Gates is pushing innovation because it's his thing, but then he really didn't need to write a book about it unless he's seriously trying to send a message to us all. His implicit message is that Team Humanity doesn't have the chops to effectively address climate change through cooperation and politics. His explicit message is that the best way forward is to rely instead on innovation. Let's hope that he spots Gronk in the end zone.


Let it be said that I agree with Mr. Gates, and I am thrilled that his book and its important ideas made it into the two percent. On the other hand, I didn't write about that earlier this year when I might have. I've been quiet for the above stated reasons, but also because this year I found it hard to write about climate change while something like American democracy has been so imminently threatened. Talk about losing the Superbowl.


So now I'm resting up. Fishing. Admiring flowers. Counting the number of 90 degree days (while sort of not counting them). blossoms-pink-2.jpg


I recently mentioned my state of mind to a young friend, the kind of guy who drives from LA to Phoenix to be a poll watcher for the day. He exclaimed, "Me too!" We agreed that we don't want to talk about it quite yet.


Meanwhile, things are heating up. And here comes 2022.






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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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