Here are the points I like to stress:
1) Avoid the term “global warming.” I prefer the term “global weirding,” because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.
The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington — while it has rained at the Winter Olympics in Canada, while Australia is having a record 13-year drought — is right in line with what every major study on climate change predicts: The weather will get weird; some areas will get more precipitation than ever; others will become drier than ever.
2) Historically, we know that the climate has warmed and cooled slowly, going from Ice Ages to warming periods, driven, in part, by changes in the earth’s orbit and hence the amount of sunlight different parts of the earth get. What the current debate is about is whether humans — by emitting so much carbon and thickening the greenhouse-gas blanket around the earth so that it traps more heat — are now rapidly exacerbating nature’s natural warming cycles to a degree that could lead to dangerous disruptions.
3) Those who favor taking action are saying: “Because the warming that humans are doing is irreversible and potentially catastrophic, let’s buy some insurance — by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and mass transit — because this insurance will also actually make us richer and more secure.” We will import less oil, invent and export more clean-tech products, send fewer dollars overseas to buy oil and, most importantly, diminish the dollars that are sustaining the worst petro-dictators in the world who indirectly fund terrorists and the schools that nurture them.
4) Even if climate change proves less catastrophic than some fear, in a world that is forecast to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050, more and more of whom will live like Americans, demand for renewable energy and clean water is going to soar. It is obviously going to be the next great global industry.
China, of course, understands that, which is why it is investing heavily in clean-tech, efficiency and high-speed rail. It sees the future trends and is betting on them. Indeed, I suspect China is quietly laughing at us right now. And Iran, Russia, Venezuela and the whole OPEC gang are high-fiving each other