What do we owe to our great-great-great-grandchildren? What actions are we obligated to take now in order to diminish the risks to our descendants and our planet from the increasing likelihood of global warming and climate change?
Almost everyone – except the likes of ExxonMobil, US Vice President Dick Cheney, and their paid servants and deluded acolytes – understands that when humans burn hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere, where it acts like a giant blanket, absorbing infrared radiation coming up from below and warming the earth.
Likewise, almost everyone understands that while global warming might be a much smaller or larger problem than existing models suggest, this uncertainty is no excuse for inaction. In fact, uncertainty about global climate change should lead us to do more to guard against it than if we knew it would proceed exactly according to the central-case projections.
Finally, almost everyone agrees that governments, non-profit institutions, and energy companies should be spending far more to develop technologies that generate non-carbon-emitting power, that remove it from the atmosphere to forests or oceans, and that cool the earth by reflecting more of the sunlight that lands on it.