10 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Climate

1. Did you know…We can end the climate crisis by 2050?

We all want to restore a climate that can support the lives of our children and future generations. The fact that we can do so, however, is still a new idea in the climate-action world. As more people demand that our goal be a safe, pre-industrial climate by 2050—a climate restored— it can be achieved.

2. Climate restoration means net-zero CO2 emissions… and far beyond

Today we pump about 36 billion tons of CO2 into the air each year. It’s critical to stop adding CO2. But to restore our climate, we also need to remove the trillion tons already up there, from 200 years of fossil-fuel use. With iron fertilizer and synthetic limestone, we could remove over 50 billion tons a year for 20 years. That comes to a trillion tons—and the job will be done by 2050.

3. We can restore the climate by copying and amplifying what Nature does (though not in the way you might think)

Nature constantly pulls CO2 from the atmosphere, mainly through photosynthesis—green plants absorbing CO2 to grow—and making limestone, which is nearly half CO2 by weight.

Ten times in the last million years, Nature reduced the planet’s temperature relatively quickly as part of the ice age cycle—with photosynthesis, but with a twist. Powerful, large-scale, planet-cooling photosynthesis takes place mostly in the ocean.

4. We can replicate how Nature pulls down CO2 and temperatures

Nature pulls the Earth toward an ice age by increasing dust storms: more iron-rich dust blows off land and out to sea, where it fertilizes patches of ocean that have other nutrients but lack iron. Scientists only figured this out about 30 years ago. We can intentionally replenish iron that used to be circulating in the ocean, but for many reasons is now missing in the growing expanse of “ocean desert.”

With minuscule amount of iron fertilizer, microscopic green plants called “phytoplankton” bloom, pulling down a lot of CO2. The phytoplankton is also the base of the marine food chain, feeding fish and other marine life. Then the CO2 sinks and gets stored away in the deep as the phytoplankton and other organisms die naturally.

5. Did you know…We can make our roads and buildings out of CO2?

Nature stores most of the CO2 on Earth in limestone, produced from CO2 and calcium by shellfish and coral. Recently scientists replicated the process, and now we can make “synthetic” limestone. Concrete with synthetic limestone is already in buildings and runways at the San Francisco International Airport. This industry is waiting for more investment to expand worldwide.

6. Climate-restoration methods are natural, safe and remarkably inexpensive

Climate restoration methods use Nature’s methods, so they’ve been tested and proven effective and safe over millions of years. Since they work naturally on a large scale—for free—we can put them to work very cheaply. For instance, fertilizing ocean patches with iron is expected to cost just a few cents for every ton of CO2 that gets removed from the atmosphere. In contrast, new, industrial methods of removing CO2 typically cost $500 – $1000 per ton of CO2. The difference is clear, considering that we have a trillion tons to remove to restore the climate.

7. Restoring the climate honors the original intent of the UN climate goals

The world’s accepted climate goals, stated as “stabilizing” greenhouse gasses, (now called” net-zero emissions,” were set in 1992 when CO2 levels were still theoretically safe. If we “stabilize” them alone by 2050, they’ll be more than 50 percent higher than humans have survived until 100 years ago, and climate chaos will only worsen.

Today, to meet the intent of world climate goals, we need to restore safe levels of CO2 before we stabilize them. And we can do so, given the will.

8. We can update our goal to climate restoration within a year—which will allow us to achieve it 

In July 2023, California’s Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the state and the nation to restore our climate. Similar resolutions are being considered in other states and at the national level. By shifting the conversation to be focused on restoration, we can end the climate crisis.

9. Realistic climate optimism is contagious!

By talking about climate restoration with your friends, family, and organizations—you  can spread realistic climate optimism. That will create a groundswell of support for restoring a historically safe climate for future generations.

10. Your children will thank you!

And a bonus: Here are some ways you can Learn more and help evolve the climate conversation!

To share the optimism, click on the button below to access the PDF infographic version of this article. Feel free to send it to friends, family, colleagues – anyone who might appreciate some reasons to be optimistic about the climate!

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