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A little moral outrage, please

January 2, 2013

Severe weather events in 2012 apparently have swayed a lot of skeptics about climate change in the U.S. One poll completed a month ago indicates that 80% of Americans now believe in global warming, another poll shows a 75% response.

And there are more changes in perception about climate change. Young people and businesses are coming to the table to advance the conversation in a way they have not done before.

Today’s young people have the most to lose if the worst-case predictions about global warming come to pass this century. One of these young people is a college student whose impassioned plea at a U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Durban, South Africa in 2011 has gone viral on the Internet.

If you want to know what moral outrage looks and sounds like, then listen to Anjuli Appadurai, then a third-year student at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME (www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeTfZQe7HYY). Appadurai was part of the youth delegation to the 17th U.N. Conference on Climate Change. (Yes, you heard right—this is the 17th time conferees have met to make a plan for what to do about global warming, and it was the 17th time little to nothing was achieved.)

Appadurai issued a call for action by governments around the world to make deep cuts in carbon dioxide pollution emissions. There in South Africa, she quoted Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” And then she ended her speech with three short words that other young delegates took up from the back of the room: “Get it done. Get it done. Get it done,” they chanted.

Meanwhile, carbon dioxide continues to pour into the air. The earth’s rising temperature already is certain not to be contained at two-degree Celsius (four degrees Fahrenheit), the amount of increase climate scientists believe must be achieved to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Some predictions now raise the possibility of four degrees Celsius as being more realistic, while others see an even more frightful number of six degrees C.

We think the world needs more moral outrage like Appadurai expressed over the world community’s failure to act. More young people like her are needed.

And now there’s another important voice being heard from—the voice of business.