Climate change is a young person's problem, but it's also a moral issue for people of all ages.
Let me explain. We, as in all of the people on earth, are already seeing the effects of climate change: heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense, droughts are worsening, the oceans are warming, ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and destructive downpours are becoming more common. And the fossil fuel-linked carbon emissions that are driving global warming and climate change are also turning the ocean more acidic, putting marine life at risk.
So imagine what conditions are going to be like for future generations if we keep dumping carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, unchecked. In 50 or 100 years, the aforementioned problems will be worse and others will emerge, unless today's policymakers and politicians, many of whom won't live to see that future, take action.
Last night, famed climate scientist James Hansen addressed hundreds of people at Monroe Community College, and inter-generational justice was one of his major themes. During a reception before his speech, Hansen said that leaders and the public need to be open-minded about solutions to climate change, since it'll be the younger generations that will be affected. He called for a carbon fee, and said that the marketplace should be allowed to determine the best ways to generate carbon-free electricity.
But he made another crucial point, often overlooked in the climate debate. He was lucky, he said, to grow up in the 1950's,when the country had rising expectations and was training all sorts of scientists and engineers. By renewing that focus, he said, the country would encourage the development of new and better energy technologies.
In New York, academic, business, and political officials have begun placing greater emphasis on training scientists, engineers, and other high-tech workers. The state's moving in the right direction, which should give all of us some hope.