“…work the problem…” - Gene Kranz, former NASA flight director

First, here’s how our planet retains heat: There are gases in our atmosphere referred to as greenhouse gases because they trap in much of the sun’s radiation - keeping our planet warmer than space outside of it. These gases include but not limited to carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Without this, our planet would be extremely cold and unable to support life, similar to Mars. Too much of this and our planet could be similar to Venus which has a surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit. CO2 occurs naturally and is manmade. With respiration of all living organisms, CO2 is released. And when we burn carbon, like fossil fuels, CO2 is released.

The extraordinary circumstances that allow our planet to support life are heavily monitored. Scientists measure greenhouse gases a few ways. To learn how, check out the source list for a link. Evidence shows that a great deal of the CO2 emissions are manmade. To make matters worse, some activities exacerbate the problem even if they don’t exactly cause C02 emissions. Deforestation is one of those major problems. Trees absorb CO2, a few other gases, and release oxygen. They are one of the easiest ways to combat the extra CO2 and we are cutting down about 15 billion trees each year. Since the beginning of human civilization, we have cut down 46% of trees.

Research shows that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. They are all oil, coal, and gas companies. The silver lining is that investors are not as content with these companies as the general public might assume. And there are several things we can do to affect change. In taking direction from former NASA flight director, Gene Kranz, we can “work the problem”.

Exxon-Mobil s one of those 100 companies. As a shareholder meeting in 2017, investors unexpectedly voted against Exxon management. Investors voted to know how the efforts of governments and companies striving to move away from fossil fuels affect their profit, especially long term. Is it a worthwhile investment… “The future of the oil industry has already been written: the choice is will its decline be managed, returning capital to shareholders to be reinvested in the genuine industries of the future, or will they hold on, hoping not to be the last one standing when the music stops?” - Charlie Kronick, senior program advisor at Greenpeace UK

Humanity’s greatest innovators changed their minds upon the presence of new, reliable information. Fossil fuels absolutely advanced human civilization! But we know and have for some time that the use of fossil fuels is not viable or sustainable. Just like those who came before us, who moved to using cars instead of horses, or electricity instead of candlelight, we must move to this next advancement. It is because of what’s at stake that must do this with the utmost urgency.

The major hold up in switching to renewable energy is a fear of little to no profit. But this assumption is incorrect. In 2017, the U.S.’s renewable energy industry earned over $40 billion. There is money to be made and jobs to fill. Exxon-Mobil investors voted for transparency for the sake of their portfolios. The overwhelming evidence of climate change, the obvious ethical dilemmas of continued use of fossil fuels, and legislation limiting fossil fuels isn’t deterring them soon enough. We have to show them where the money is…

Here are a few simple things we can do:
-It is no secret that free social media platforms collect our personal data to use as marketing information. We should use that to our advantage. For example, “like” articles, posts, or pages that favor renewable energy or environmentally-friendly products, businesses, legislation, etc.

-We can say a lot with where we spend our money. Let’s aim to support companies that favor an environmentally-friendly approach. And boycott those that don’t until they change their business practices.

-Learn about a company’s practices and industry terms. The best way to advocate for something better is to know exactly what’s currently being done.

Sources & Suggested Further Reading
-Deforestation - Nature.com
-Financial Firms Lead Shareholder Rebellion Against ExxonMobil Climate Change Policies - The Washington Post
-Global Emissions by Gas - EPA.gov
-Global Emissions - The Guardian
-Greenhouse Gases - ACS.org
-Measuring Greenhouse Gases - Climatica.org.uk
-Not In the Black - Quartz
-Top Renewable Energy Financiers Reveal Pathway to $1 Trillion in US Investment - Forbes

Thanks for reading!

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