Live commentary: How to solve the climate crisis

Updated 12:54 p.m. ET, September 5, 2019
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:07 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Castro's heart-stopping idea

By Naomi Oreskes

Secretary Castro wants to rejoin the Paris Accord (what Democrat doesn’t?) and follow it with a series of executive orders. But executive orders are fragile. Unless we can build a coalition—in Congress, or on the state and federal level—any action taken by the White House is unlikely to prove transient and ineffective.

Castro should do more to emphasize the jobs that are being created in the clean energy sector—far more than in fossil fuels—and that clean energy is cheaper than dirty energy. These economic benefits offer a basis for building a new, profitable, clean energy system.

The heart-stopper of Castro's segment was when he said he wants to see that “more people are protected by national flood insurance” by subsidizing it. That would be a mistake. Flood insurance encourages people to live in flood zones that should never have been populated in the first place, and are now more vulnerable than ever. It’s sad, but the reality is that climate adaptation will necessarily involve relocating some Americans out of high-risk flood zones. I would rather he had suggested paying for necessary relocation out of his carbon pollution fee.  

The gaffe of his segment was his promise to make America “carbon-free.” All life is based on carbon; we can’t be carbon-free! What he means is carbon-emissions-free, but that is harder to say.

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and the author of the new book Why Trust Science?

4:37 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Emma Thompson: Everything depends on what we do now

By Emma Thompson

All over the world life forms are experiencing weather that attacks rather than sustains.

Unseasonal heat that kills, rain that instead of sweetening, inundates and destroys, hurricanes that devastate.

This is climate change.

We are in it. It is all around us and set to get worse.

Everything depends on what we do now.

To read more from Emma Thompson's op-ed, click here.

Emma Thompson is a writer and actor from the UK.  

4:37 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Those who come after us will either curse us -- or thank us

By Carl Safina

Climate change isn't what I'd call urgent. Not any more. The time for urgency has passed. Our government and the rest of the world largely ignored the red lights and warning bells. It's now much bigger, and much worse, than urgent.

Heat waves, wildfires and monster storms are killing people outright. Unstable weather is threatening the global food supply. So is seawater acidification, which is destroying coral reefs that support the ocean food chain.

Rising seas threaten to inundate all low-lying seacoasts and islands.

Climate change so dominates news about the environment that many of us seem to have forgotten that we have a ton of other major problems not directly linked to a warming planet. Shrinking wild lands, polluted air, poisoned waters, exhausted farmlands and depleting irrigation and drinking wells, overfished seas, species going extinct, clearcutting for more farms and more wood, a plasticizing ocean, mercury in seafood. It goes on.

To read more from Carl Safina's op-ed, click here.

Carl Safina's most recent book is "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel." A MacArthur Fellow, he holds the Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center. 

3:49 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Elizabeth Warren: A climate plan that works for the most vulnerable

By Elizabeth Warren

But to really address our climate crisis head-on, we must address the legacy of environmental racism and recognize that climate change doesn't impact every community equally. Hard data shows that it disproportionately impacts communities of color, indigenous people, and low-income Americans. People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with toxic waste facilities. Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be exposed to air pollution than white Americans. Intense storms bear down on these communities -- with recovery that is slow, painful, and often lacking total support from the government. Latinx families and workers are vulnerable to record heat waves and heat-related deaths. Indigenous people are seeing their food supply threatened, facing displacement from their homes, and are being trampled over by special interests that want to exploit their lands and sacred sites. I could go on.

Our climate crisis will leave no one untouched. It poses an existential challenge -- but it also gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to marshal all of our resources and all of our people to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity to take it on.

To read more from Elizabeth Warren's op-ed, click here.

Elizabeth Warren is one of 10 presidential candidates taking part in CNN's climate crisis town hall Wednesday, September 4 at 5:00 p.m. ET. She is a US senator from Massachusetts.

3:49 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Pete Buttigieg: Bold climate action will be our new national project

By Pete Buttigieg

Industrial America -- including South Bend and the Studebaker cars we once produced -- was built on oil and gas. But just as my community has moved forward, so must our country. So we'll launch a 21st-century Industrial Revolution, investing in mass transit, transitioning to electric vehicles, and making buildings and homes more energy efficient. And with scientists indicating our soil can absorb as much carbon as the global transportation system emits, we'll put American farmers at the center of our climate revolution. Too often, rural America has been told they're the problem, not invited to be part of the solution. Through investments in soil management and other technologies, we can make a farm in Iowa as much a symbol of confronting climate disruption as an electric vehicle in California.

To read more from Pete Buttigieg's op-ed, click here.

Pete Buttigieg is one of 10 presidential candidates taking part in CNN's climate crisis town hall Wednesday, September 4 at 5:00 p.m. ET. He is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. 

3:58 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Trump's failure to fight climate change is a crime against humanity

By Jeffrey Sachs

As the Earth warms due to the continued burning of coal, oil, and gas, climate-related disasters that include high-intensity hurricanes, floods, droughts, extreme precipitation, forest fires, and heat waves, pose rising dangers to life and property. Hurricanes become more destructive as warmer ocean waters feed more energy to the storms. Warmer air also carries more moisture for devastating rainfalls, while rising sea levels lead to more flooding.

Yet Trump and his minions are the loyal servants of the fossil-fuel industry, which fill Republican party campaign coffers. Trump has also stalled the fight against climate change by pulling out of the Paris Agreement. The politicians thereby deprive the people of their lives and property out of profound cynicism, greed, and willful scientific ignorance.

To read more from Jeffrey Sachs' op-ed, click here.

Jeffrey Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University

3:49 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Black voters care about climate change too

By Bakari Sellers

Climate change should be a definitive issue for Black voters, but it isn't. That is partly because environmental advocacy groups have not always looked like us, nor have they clarified what solutions mean for our communities. And few have articulated what real environmental justice looks like.

So, for any presidential hopeful that is serious about wooing Black voters in the South, take note: we expect a clear plan on how you will safeguard the air we breathe and the water we drink. We expect you to explain how climate change affects us, and how our communities will be spotlighted in response efforts.

To read more from Bakari Sellers' op-ed, click here.

Bakari Sellers is a former Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and a CNN commentator.

3:49 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Reckless farming is destroying the planet. This could save it

By Rose Marcario and David Bronner for CNN Business Perspectives

It turns out that the traditional and responsible farming practices humans used for centuries before the rise of chemical agriculture are some of the best methods we can use to protect ourselves and the planet. It's what we now call regenerative organic farming and it's back-to-basics: Instead of using excessive amounts of fertilizers in vast single-crop fields, farmers can diversify and rotate crops, compost, plant cover crops and reduce tillage. Ranchers should raise animals that are grass-fed and free of antibiotics, added hormones and pesticides in their feed, and live free of cruel confinement conditions and the daily suffering inherent in life on factory farms.

To read more from Rose Macario's and David Bronner's op-ed, click here.

Rose Marcario is the president and CEO of Patagonia. David Bronner is the CEO of Dr. Bronner's.

3:49 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

The shipping industry must go carbon neutral to survive

By Luis Alfonso de Alba for CNN Business Perspectives

From the phone or laptop you are reading this on, to the car you drive, the clothes you wear or the food you eat, most of the goods you use have traveled across the seas.

According to the latest UN assessment, freighters carry 10.7 billion tons of cargo across the oceans every year. Fossil fuels power this industry, which relies on oil, gas and coal shipments to stay in business. In fact, shipping accounts for 2% to 3% of global carbon emissions. This is greater than the emissions produced by all but the world's five highest-emitting countries.

We need to decarbonize the global shipping industry -- we cannot hope to build prosperous sustainable economies without doing so.

To read more from Luis Alfonso de Alba's op-ed, click here.

Luis Alfonso de Alba is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit.