First of all, if you have not been there already, go to this website, it will change your life for the better because it provides answers to any questions you have ever had about humans and climate change and the science behind it. I especially like the science explanations of the top 100 myths that a lot of people keep mistaking as real arguments.
It is called skeptical science and it can really help educate you on the science behind the issues.
The main point of this post is to say that humans are warming the planet through the rapid release of CO2 (there is no question there) and that even if we stop all CO2 emissions right now (which we are actually exponentially increasing) the planet's mean annual surface temperature and the mean ocean surface temperature (important in terms of Antarctica and Greenland) will rise enough for us to take notice in the next 80 years.
Solar seems to be the next logical step, we just need to improve our solar capture and energy storage. Perhaps that will happen in 100 years when we run out of oil, coal and gas, and the world's ice sheets disappear faster than they have done since they have been around.
Even assuming that everything we are doing has zero effect on temperature, sea level etc. (which is obviously false), we should be yearning to clean up our act as a group (country, species, town, state, community, citizen of the universe etc.) no matter what. The pollution alone should be reason enough to not want to be burning coal. We should not want plastic bags on our beaches. Or need to not go outside on certain days because we made our air poisonous. It seems sort of silly if we end up only taking action about deforestation, pollution and loss of biodiversity once the sea level has risen by two meters.
One obvious response to this is the fact that the reason a lot of this happens is because there are so many people in the world where price outweighs being environmentally conscious. If a country can't afford as a government to pick up trash, it is just not going to offer that to it's citizens. If a country keeps having babies, it needs electricity now, and can't afford to research solar energy for 15 years and stop burning coal.
This all comes back to money like most things do. A carbon tax seems like the only way to incentivize people to stop using fossil fuels. If solar is cheaper than fossil fuels people will use it, thats all there is to it, in the end people will use what is cheaper. The only way to really achieve that right now is through a carbon tax. This is not new stuff, but the problem is that the changes that we are making to climate, though extremely rapid (like bullet out of a gun fast in terms of the geologic time scale), are slow on the human time scale. So we can't watch the ocean rise, because it rises by 5-10 mm a year give or take, and not the same around the globe (for example). I think the problem is how to get people to feel like they need to do something now for a change they won't be able to really see except for a snapshot comparing 2000 to 2100. I suppose the answer to this is the whole pollution thing I mentioned before. If people start making changes based on not wanting to make the world dirty (which is a change that is very observable in the week to week basis) that that will have the built in effect of mitigating the problems of the next 100 years. To me it makes sense that we should be wanting to be less of a dirty species regardless of the climate consequences (but we still get to address the climate problems). But if that doesn't work, people are easily driven by cost, so let's make solar cheaper and fossil fuels more expensive.
Hi my name is Nilo Bill and I am a graduate student in Geology at Oregon State University College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science