David Orr on confronting climate collapse

Note from Priscilla: We don’t need “happy talk” about the climate, says environmental studies professor David Orr. Everyone from political leaders to next-door neighbors needs to break the climate silence and tell the truth about what is happening with the Earth. David Orr is a visionary on climate change, able to calmly see the whole picture yet speak with urgency about what needs to happen next. I look forward to meeting him in person next month when I make my quarterly visit to Prescott College, where Orr will be a keynote speaker at the Sustainability Education Symposium. Orr’s book Down to the Wire came out in 2009. This post appeared at Climate Progress on April 4.

Confronting Climate Collapse

by David Orr


I wrote Down to the Wire between 2007 and 2008 when many still believed that the United States was capable of making an effective national response to global climate destabilization. At the time I was involved with several dozen others in drafting “The President’s Climate Action Plan” (PCAP) a document that aimed to define the actions that the next U.S. President would have to take immediately in order to avoid the worst of what lies ahead. The numbers are stark. We have raised the temperature of the Earth by 0.8C and are committed to another 0.5 to 1°C that will bring us close to the 2C warming that many scientists have cited as a threshold we should not transgress. Time, in other words, is not on our side. Climate destabilization, we argued, was not just another issue on a long list of vexing problems, but the linchpin issue the solution of which would lessen many other problems including national security, balance of payments, economic recovery, and public health. As Bill Becker, the Executive Director of PCAP put it, “climate change is not about Right or Left; it’s about backward or forward.” Read More…