John Bullard Shares the Realities of Climate Change

by Jessica Garrity

Our team meeting this past Halloween left me feeling incredibly motivated and inspired. John Bullard, Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and  former mayor of New Bedford, recently came and spoke to the Challenge interns about the effects of climate change, and the part we all play in making a difference.

John began his talk by telling us about all the evidence of climate change, such as increased frequency of intense storms, droughts, and floods, elevated numbers and occurrences of invasive species and disease, decline of biodiversity, as well as a number of impacts specific to the oceans. He also highlighted the indications that greenhouse gas emission by humans is the cause of these changes. One slide that we were all particularly struck by a graph that showed a near-exact correlation between average global temperature over 800,000 years and percent concentration of CO2.

Alright. To some extent, John was preaching to the choir. I mean, we’re all working with a non-profit organization trying to reduce carbon emissions on the south coast, so we’ve got to know a bit about climate change. What really made this talk unique for me was that John went beyond discussion of the science and talked about the tough realities of fighting for the environment. He spoke about all the common excuses that people make for not doing things such as recycling or recognizing climate change as a problem. As a result, I felt more willing to make all the changes I’ve been too lazy to make and less ashamed of ridiculing my friends about littering or recycling.

John also explained that there is always some doubt in science, but the amount of doubt is so little, and at a certain point even though there’s uncertainty, we still have to act. He also said that people need to start demanding big changes, and be willing to make some sacrifices to make this change happen, because the costs of ignoring the problem are far worse. We asked John to tell us some of the most important things we can do to make a change, and he encouraged us to vote. He said that people do not often choose a candidate due to their environmental policy, but it is time to start paying closer attention, and making decisions based on a cleaner future for energy production.

The part of John’s talk that stuck with me most was the idea that we need to “match the magnitude of our response to the magnitude of the problem” and the problem is huge, but not impossible to overcome. We only need to accept the facts and begin to build the solution, which we already have the tools and technology to solve.


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