Welcome to the fall edition of our quarterly newsletter. As you will see below, we are committed to reaching new audiences – even during the pandemic – and extending our impact far and wide.
In the Northeast, the leaves are beginning to turn, splashes of vibrant colors erupt across the tree-scape, and we are reminded of the ever-constant flow of seasons, the consistent and comforting rhythms of nature. Yet, at the same time, we are experiencing nature in ways that are no longer consistent or comforting – whether it’s the hottest temperature ever recorded earlier this year, running out of traditional names for tropical storms because we’ve had so many, or the behemoth “gigafire” (an unprecedented 4 million acres) burning in California. These events underscore that our world is evolving, made more dangerous by climate change.
There is just so much vying for our attention – the pandemic, the election, racial injustice, to name just a few – and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But we’ve got to keep our eye on the biggest threat of all – the one that has so clearly crossed from the future into the present – that nature is now playing by new and dangerous rules. Our economy and civilization are built on the premise that nature acts a certain way. There is a good chance that this premise will no longer hold true if we continue on our current emissions path. We are changing the chemical composition of our atmosphere, which, in turn, is changing our natural systems at a breathtaking rate.
So, what can we do?
Scientists say we need to pull together, to forge social consensus for action, to face this threat successfully and overcome it. But we can only pull together if enough people care. People will only care if they understand the scope and scale of the risk and how it will impact them personally. C-Change Conversations provides that understanding – in a clear, science-based, non-partisan, non-threatening way. And we bring that message across the country, including to conservative groups and to conservative places where this message isn’t often heard. We are successfully opening minds and hearts and pulling people together so we can meet this threat.
We are working hard to provide valuable information to empower you, our C-Change family, to influence others and help build the consensus, too. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
Founder and President
Land Trust Alliance National Conference Features C-Change Speakers
C-Change returned to a national stage on October 6th with Kathleen Biggins and C-Change co-founder Katy Kinsolving speaking during “Rally 2020,” the annual conference of the Land Trust Alliance. More than 3,600 land conservation trustees and practitioners virtually attended the 3-day conference that examined issues critical to the future of land conservation. Kathleen and Katy presented “How to Talk to Moderates and Conservatives about Climate Change” to an audience of 500. Their talk featured excerpts of the C-Change Primer presentation and examined how land preservation and use, and agricultural practices, can mitigate climate change. After the taped presentation, Kathleen and Katy fielded questions from the audience. You can watch the presentation here.
In her introduction to the presentation, Lisa Ott, President of the North Shore Land Alliance in Oyster Bay, New York and a member of the Garden Club of America, notes that C-Change Conversations team members were “just the right people to bring this message” about climate change to her colleagues and that they presented the risks and opportunities of climate change “factually … in a science-based way … and they were not threatening to the people of our community.”
New Primer Presenters Extend Our Reach
A handful of C-Change volunteers have presented the Primer to about 10,000 people in 29 states since 2018. The demand for non-partisan, science-based information about climate change spurred us to expand our ranks, and over time, we developed a robust presenter-training program that will enable us to reach even more people.
Ask a Scientist
Here are some questions we recently asked our science advisors. Be sure to check out more Q&A on our website and submit your questions here.
Bernadette Woods Placky, Climate Central’s Chief Meteorologist and Climate Matters Program Director
How is climate change impacting hurricanes now and what’s expected in the future?
Hurricanes get their strength from warm water, and those waters are getting warmer.
Scientific research shows that more of the hurricanes forming these days are rising to the level of a major hurricane – category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. And more storms are rapidly intensifying – when storms go through an explosive growth period of 35 mph in 24 hours. This is particularly dangerous when it happens close to landfall, limiting time for proper preparations. When storms do make landfall, they are more damaging due to more heavy rain and higher storm surges that push farther inland.
Nadir Jeevanjee, Princeton University
What argument is used by the 3% of scientists who don’t agree that climate change is happening/human-caused?
My impression is that this “3%” generally consists of scientists who acknowledge that CO2 is rising due to human activities, and who also acknowledge that this rising CO2 will cause some global warming, but who disagree on the amount of warming it will cause. These scientists might be suspicious of estimates from computer climate models due to their complexity, and may have other explanations for some of the warming we’ve observed so far, such as natural fluctuations. Such skepticism and formulation of alternative hypotheses is natural, and is moreover an essential part of a healthy scientific enterprise. But the accumulated evidence, as documented in ever-expanding reports by the IPCC and other bodies, continues to point to human-emitted CO2 as the main driver of observed climate changes.
Liz Sikes, Rutgers University
What factors triggered the end of the last ice age?
We believe that the fundamental trigger for the end of the last ice age was increasing insolation (more heating from the sun) over the northern hemisphere, where the main glacial ice cap sat. Increasing insolation happens as the earth’s orbit changes shape naturally – sometimes a component of this is referred to as the “wobble of the poles.” These changes have timescales of about 20,000 and 40,000 years and have a slow-paced influence on climate. These shifts in solar radiation can initiate carbon feedback loops, which causes more rapid changes within the climate system. Scientific evidence shows that as the increased solar radiation warmed the oceans, circulation patterns changed and CO2 that had been sequestered in the deep ocean was released into the atmosphere. These increased CO2 levels heated the atmosphere up further and were an important driver in the last deglaciation, the ice loss that ended the last ice age. We are seeing the same thing happening today. As we raise CO2 levels through our greenhouse gas emissions, we are seeing increased deglaciation in our polar regions.
“I have had such good fortune in experiencing the profound beauty of our world, and learning how critically reliant we are on the health of our planet. I want to address these issues for the sake of my children and all future generations – and for the sake of our imperiled earth.”
Nancy’s career has spanned investment banking, community development, and non-profit management. She spent 15 years with JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch in New York as an investment banker and then as head of their Community Development Corporations. After moving to St. Louis, she headed Bellefontaine, a non-profit historic cemetery and arboretum. Nancy is the board chair for the Nature Conservancy in Missouri and serves on the board of the Harris World Ecology Center, the Conservation Mission Council of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Finance Committee of the Garden Club of America. Nancy also is starting a C-Change team in St. Louis. She recently completed a post-graduate program at Yale in Financing and Deploying Clean Energy.