Why “3 Things?”
The short story behind the story.
Concerned About Climate Change?
You’re not alone. Fifty six percent of Americans are worried about climate change—and for good reason. The phenomenon is expected to produce more frequent, and more intense, extreme weather events, according to the recent National Climate Assessment. Droughts, floods, heat waves, sea level rise, species loss, coral loss—it’s all real, and happening.
Climate change is already costing the United States about $240 billion per year. Individuals are currently footing most of these costs and this number is expected to rise to $360 billion. The U.S. is the world’s No. 2 largest [PDF, 20MB] greenhouse-gas polluter, second only to China. And though there is a cost to action, the costs of inaction will be much greater, recent Citigroup research [PDF, 6MB] found. The price tag? As high as $43 trillion in lost global assets, according to a 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit report.
Meanwhile, tackling climate change head-on, today, could save $1.8 trillion.
Here’s a spoiler: In the United States, energy—specifically the burning of fossil fuels—produces the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions (82 to 87 percent). That’s the big opportunity, and the one we hope to unpack in our program.
Unsure What to Do?
Unfortunately, only 52 percent of Americans understand that human activity is primarily driving climate change. Many of us in this group are unsure what to do about it. When confronted with a challenge, it’s natural to start thinking about solutions.
And when we look for advice, there’s plenty out there: Eat less meat. Go vegan. Have fewer children. Drive less. Fly less. Recycle more. Buy less stuff.
Do these things help? Sure. A little. The reality is, changing our whole economy one person at a time is not going to get us where we need to go fast enough. Many of us are busy with other things—work, school, parenting. Further, plenty of us don’t think of ourselves as environmentalists—and never will.
The reality is that we will only address climate at the needed scope, scale, and speed by changing the rules that govern our society and economy, to make cleaner and more efficient energy options the norm. That’s the domain of public policy and regulation. Businesses also have enormous clout. Along with all levels of government, the private sector has tremendous potential to drive deep change.
Introducing the 3 Things
We launched this series in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of the three actions that top global energy researchers agree are paramount. These actions will transform how we produce and use energy, and keep global temperatures from rising beyond the critical two-degree threshold. They are, in rough order of priority:
Behind each of these broad energy-transition focus areas are stories of change and opportunity, waiting to be told. We hope to bring them to you via plain-language, non-technical conversations with interesting people who work at the heart of the global transformation.
Many of these stories are simply not getting much attention beyond energy-industry circles.
Meanwhile, in the United States, climate change has become a highly politicized issue. Some don’t even want to hear about it, because they don’t identify as “progressive.” (Hint: You don’t need to.) And while we love scientists, engineers, and academics, let’s face it, they’re not always the most effective communicators!
Our program highlights efforts and initiatives that are seeing progress. We’ll share lessons learned through conversations and interviews with the individuals directly involved. And wherever possible, we’ll ask the question, “What can regular people do to help?”
Where Do the 3Things Come From?
The Deep Carbonization Pathways Project inspired the 3Things podcast. It is a global collaboration of 16 energy research teams charting practical pathways to major greenhouse gas reductions. The teams are working to identify combinations of solutions that will prevent global average surface temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius. They have developed “deep decarbonization pathways” for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The 3Things podcast is not affiliated with the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.
We are excited and humbled to be sharing these important stories about the new world. If you like what you’re hearing, please consider supporting our work via Patreon.
* Everything that can be electrified must be electrified. We will not be able to electrify aviation, so we’ll need to pursue other options. Heavy freight is tricky. Ocean-going cargo ships? Nobody has really figured that one out yet, either. (We’ll tackle this issue in an upcoming episode!)