Some of us have been active on this topic since 1970, although I must admit to taking a few years off to cleanup hazardous and radioactive waste (and while at US DOE-RL/Hanford was partly funded by J. Romm’s Office.)
There were many big problems at Hanford (and still are with the Tank Waste). To some, things seemed impossible. With good planning, good management, and some thinking outside of box, the essential tasks got done safely, ahead of schedule and under budget. That was also a demonstration of “Value Engineering” that resulted in Value Engineering being required on all Federal Projects after 1998. We did not invent Value Engineering, we just got very good at it, and saved taxpayers a lot of money compared to conventional management.
Now, AGW presents what some see as impossible challenges. And, I have thought about what needs to be done and likely have longer “to do lists” than most, and I tie those to do lists to shorter time schedules. To most academics, my schedules seem impossible — doom’s day. No! They are simply what needs to be done, and our job is to do it.
At Hanford, I got to work at 6 am and my boss’s car was in the parking lot. When I left at 9 pm, my boss’s car was still in the parking lot. Doing what we did required a lot of management. On Sundays, we went fishing, and took the last set of lab results (hundreds of pages) and our calculators so we could get another day’s work done — in the car and on the river.
That is the kind of focus that AGW will require if we are to survive. Everyone needs to focus on AGW pretty much all the time. We need to do everything possible to reduce our carbon foot print and repair past damage. Everyone needs to study the problem and it’s known science until they can be very helpful to solving and fixing the problems.
It will happen. If not by choice, then Mother Nature will force us to do it as a matter of daily survival.
Airline and car travel must be reduced to survival and AGW reduction business. Industrial ag must reduce its carbon foot print in every way possible. Trees and green space need to be tended to sequester carbon . . . . . We must go way beyond Paris 21, very quickly.
It will be as hard as being in the trenches “over there” in WWI or the worst fighting in WWII. It will take better planning than the military has ever had, and West Point teaches very good planning. Even with that level of effort, millions (and perhaps billons of people) will die from the direct effects of AGW.
Do I regret taking time off to work on hazardous / rad waste? No, I was tired of banging my head against silly arguments that we had a long time to stop AGW, many of which came from academic climate scientists. They had never run big complex projects with many critical paths. They had never tried to coordinate 600 research teams. It can be done, research Ph.D.s are no harder to herd than cats. They called me the worst slur in the book, “Alarmist”! And, if we survive, we will need a clean Earth to live on.
As I write this, my wife is editing the second edition:
Sampling and Analysis of Environmental Chemical Pollutants : A Complete Guide by Emma P. Popek (2003)
It would be a shame to put so much effort into cleaning up all that hazardous waste, only to lose Earth to AGW.