Headlines marking the arrival of the Anthropocene epoch (human-caused climate crisis leading sea level rise, ocean acidification, species extinctions and pollution) are depressing.

Humanity will undergo a fundamental energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources. We can drive over a cliff (as our current corporate and government leadership appears determined to do) or carefully plan a gentle landing for this energy transition. Either way we will consume far less energy, and life will undergo dramatic transformations. This process has already begun. The next generation will inherit a significantly different world.

To guide the gentle landing, our debt, growth and consumption-based economy needs to be replaced. Both overpopulation and over-consumption are dire threats. Our situation is precarious. The future will be extremely challenging, and many people and other species will suffer in the coming years and decades.

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Some immediate steps that are politically possible include a carbon tax with rebate (called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act), which will drive down America's carbon pollution while unleashing American ingenuity.

The choice is not whether we face challenges -- it is how painful those challenges will be: either catastrophic or tolerable. We’ve already wasted precious time delaying and ignoring the inevitable.

George Perkins, Madison

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