The UN climate-change panel’s new report is an opaque, conservative and nonpolitical document. Bill McKibben sums up its stark message: quick, deep cuts in fossil-fuel emissions are needed immediately.
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Does this conclusion offer hope that the US is ready to act?
The only really encouraging development is the groundswell of public concern that has built over the last year, beginning with the reaction to Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore’s movie. In January 2007, a few of us launched an initiative called stepitup07.org. It calls for Americans to organise rallies in their own communities on April 14 asking for congressional action. In the first few weeks the website was open, more than six-hundred groups in forty-six states registered to hold demonstrations -- this will clearly be the largest organised response to global warming yet in the United States. The groups range from environmental outfits to evangelical churches to college sororities, united only by the visceral sense (fueled in part by this winter’s bizarre weather) that the planet has been knocked out of whack. The IPCC assessment offers a modest account of just how far out of whack it is -- and just how hard we’re going to have to work to have even a chance at limiting the damage.