Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions

Editor: V. Ramanathan. Co-Editors: Adam Millard-Ball; Michelle Niemann; Scott Friese. Published by the Regents of the University of California, 2019.

As part of a University of California climate education effort led by UC San Diego climate scientist V. Ramanathan, this textbook explains climate change solutions in a clear and accessible way. The book shows how environmental justice and the environmental humanities are central to confronting climate change. It advocates social movements to push for implementation of the solutions we already have, from policies and market instruments to technologies and ecosystem restoration. This free digital textbook is an open educational resource (OER) published by the Regents of the University of California under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0). 

My role: I edited (or, in one case, co-authored) chapters that focus on environmental justice, the humanities, and the humanistic social sciences:

  • Chapter 2, “Humans, Nature, and the Quest for Environmental Justice,” by Fonna Forman and David Pellow
  • Chapter 5, “Your Leadership: Social Movements and Social Solutions to Climate Change,” by Hahrie Han and Michelle Niemann
  • Chapter 6, “Social Transformation: Changing Attitudes, Norms, and Behaviors,” by Fonna Forman
  • Chapter 7, “Religion, Ethics, and Climate Change,” by Mary Evelyn Tucker
  • Chapter 8, “Communicating Climate Change Science,” by Richard C. J. Somerville
  • Chapter 9, “Lessons from California,” by Adam Millard-Ball and Daniel Press
  • With Adam Millard-Ball, I also co-edited V. Ramanathan’s chapter 1, which explains climate change science for a broad audience.

Abstract: Climate change is an urgent problem. Because it is causing new weather extremes and fatal catastrophes, climate change is better termed climate disruption. Bending the curve to flatten the upward trajectory of pollution emissions responsible for climate disruption is essential in order to protect billions of people from this global threat. Education is a key part of the solution. 

This book lays out ten solutions that together can bend the curve of climate warming below dangerous levels. These solutions fall into six categories: science, societal transformation, governance, economics, technology, and ecosystem management. Four themes emerge from the book:  

  • There is still time to bend the curve. The time to act was yesterday, but if proper actions are taken now, there is still time to avoid disastrous changes. We have to pull on three levers: The carbon lever to achieve zero net emissions of carbon dioxide before 2050; the short-lived climate pollutants lever to drastically reduce concentrations of other major climate pollutants; and the atmospheric carbon extraction lever to remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 
  • Bending the curve will require interdisciplinary solutions. Climate change requires integrating approaches from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, so this textbook—unlike most on climate change solutions—does just that, with chapters written by experts in climate science, social justice, economics, environmental policy, political science, energy technologies, ecology, and religion. Bending the curve also requires preservation and restoration of ecological systems. 
  • Bending the curve requires a radical shift in attitude. This shift requires change in behavior, change in our attitudes towards each other, and change in our attitude towards nature. Climate justice has to be an integral part of the solution. 
  • Technology, market mechanisms, and policy need to be a part of the solution. New market mechanisms and other policies are required to spur technological innovations and to scale clean technologies globally.