Climate Restoration and Our Obligation to Act

by | September 24, 2019 2 Ideas, Sustainability

Last week I had the pleasure of joining climate researchers and advocates across the country at the UN’s Global Climate Restoration Forum in New York City, where the question was asked, “What is our plan to ensure a vibrant future for future generations?”

First, what exactly is “climate restoration?”

Climate Restoration means removing a trillion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and restoring Arctic ice by 2050. This target requires current generations to own the problem and take effective action during our lifetimes. It’s an essential framework for sustainable climate action.

The event preceded Climate Week (this week), putting the spotlight on this man-made crisis and the ideas on how to solve it.

One such example came from Dr. Leslie Field, who’s studying the use of strategically-placed glass beads to increase the reflectivity of our ice fields – what she calls the “historic ice shield.” Restoring this frozen asset, and its positive benefits for the planet, is in direct support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), and the project is constantly being assessed to ensure that it is benign, reversible and safe.

Dr. Field’s work offers inspiring new insight into working with nature to fight climate change, using science to create positive change. This is remarkable leadership!

The AEC industry needs to lead too. We have an obligation to build a future that safely remove 100 years of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Otherwise, current and future generations will face increasingly tragic effects.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese made the case for all of us last week: “Climate change is in fact a violence on humanity… We understand that your liberation is bound up in mine, as we ask what we can do (individually and collectively) for the health, happiness and vitality of the next generations.”

Our leadership and constant work in the built environment is rich with opportunities small and large – we need to work together to take advantage of them all.

Learn more about UN’s Global Climate Restoration Forum.

Photo credit: @nealmyrick


  1. Patrick Klanac says |

    Thank you for sharing, David. The first thing that caught my attention on this post is the crucifix in the photo. I’ve started to read Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and human ecology – Laudato Si.

  2. Hi Patrick:
    Good to hear from you. When I saw the cross in the room I also paused to understand it.
    Yes, Laudato Si is such an insightful guide for all of us working in the built environment.
    Please let me know if you will be attending GreenBuild, or if you have any time scheduled to be in the bay area, so that we can connect.

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