environment | December 12, 2012

Alex Steffen In Carbon Zero: "Please, Don’t Just Read: Reimagine"

"I hope you will take my sketch, use what makes sense to you, discard what doesn’t, and begin your own drawings of what the future’s possibilities can be," Alex Steffen writes in his new book, Carbon Zero. "They are bound to be better than mine, and the world needs every well-grounded, well-crafted vision it can get. Please, don’t just read: reimagine." This is what Steffen wants you to get from his new e-book Carbon Zero: that the world is warming, we've started to make changes, but what we really need to do is change the way we think about it all—and fast.  In the first chapter of the book (which, along with the rest of the book, is featured on Grist.com) Steffen paints a somewhat bleak depiction of what "a planet in climate chaos has in store for us." He explains that we have already done irreversible damage to Earth and are now left with two choices: "extremely dangerous" levels of global warming or "catastrophic" levels of global warming. Neither option being very promising.

"If that were the end of the story we could all just start drinking now. Hell, I’d buy the first round. But it’s not. We still have a choice," he reassures us in the book. While he says the outcome is certainly not the rosiest, we do have the opportunity to save our planet and ensure that the changes we experience aren't world-ending ones. What does he say we have to do to ensure that our planet doesn't warm up by more than 2 degrees (the optimal temperature that will keep us from moving into the "catastrophic" category)? We have to bring our carbon emissions down to zero. Carbon neutrality, he says, is possible—but will require a committed effort from everyone on Earth. In the book, and in his speeches, Steffen sheds light on the seemingly impossible—yet completely attainable—goal of creating a climate-balanced global economy. He is honest, but optimistic, and says that preparing for a carbon-neutral future will not only ensure that we protect our planet—but that we also experience a higher quality of life in the process.

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