Taking Action on Climate Change

The United States, by virtue of the size and history of its economy, is a leading contributor to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. In recognition of the United States’ responsibility in climate change, and the importance of creating a healthier environment here at home, President Obama has called for significant steps to reduce the United States’ carbon footprint. In a video message to the nation (just under two and a half minutes long), Obama outlines some of the issues and solutions surrounding climate change: https://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change

A class project could include having students identify three particular effects of climate change in their community or state. What, if anything is being done to combat these changes? In California, Governor Brown has made serious commitments to lowering the state’s emissions, including making renewable energy 25% of its power supply, and creating a cap and trade program for polluting industries. In 2006, California passed AB32, Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Students can next identify at least one change that could be made within their home, within their city, within their state, and at the federal level, that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The timeline provided in the Current Context piece can be used to help students determine trends shaping the national and international commitment to climate change.

The New York Times has a useful infographic on personal actions that can reduce emissions. For additional resources, visit page 4 of the Climate Change Current Context.