Someone put a copy of the April 2009 issue of the Canadian edition of Reader's Digest in my mailbox at school — I suppose because I'm the "green teacher" there.
I didn't open it up until today, and what did I find on page 71? An excerpt of an interview in the Indian edition of Reader's Digest with one of the most influential men alive — Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
And what did Pachauri say in India that our news media in the West did not pick up on? Exactly what we've been trying to communicate for months! He was asked whether it's possible to reverse global warming. Here's his response:
"Theoretically, yes. You will really have to bring down your emissions to below zero and find ways by which you can absorb existing carbon dioxide. Technologically, that's entirely possible."
Pachauri isn't asked how quickly we have to get to zero emissions, but he does explain something important:
"If you look at projections for the future, even if we were to stabilize the concentration of atmospheric gases today, climate change will continue for several decades." He explains that it's mainly the developed world that is responsible for current global warming: "You are not dealing with today's emissions. It's the cumulative effect of emissions over time, for which developed countries are responsible."
That means that today's emissions — our greenhouse gases, emitted today knowing full well that we are killing the future — haven't had their impact yet. That safer, cleaner, healthier, more equitable and more peaceful world of renewable energy looks good right now, doesn't it?
So my action today is to get Pachauri's response out there, first on my Climate Primer webpage, next on the Climate Change Emergency Medical Response homepage, and then on various listserves. People around the world have to hear and understand that ZERO is the only viable target, the only target that will give us a chance at safeguarding the future.
Spread the word. And the word is "zero"!