Our Earth is warming. Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather.The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect and is natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the buildup of greenhouse gases can change Earth's climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems.The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere in the near future and for years to come.
Projected temperature change for mid-century (left) and end-of-century (right) in the United States under higher (top) and lower (bottom) emissions scenarios. The brackets on the thermometers represent the likely range of model projections, though lower or higher outcomes are possible. Source: USGCRP 2009By 2100, the average U.S. temperature is projected to increase by about 4°F to 11°F, depending on emissions scenario and climate model. An increase in average temperatures worldwide implies more frequent and intense extreme heat events, or heat waves. The number of days with high temperatures above 90°F is expected to increase throughout the United States, especially in areas that already experience heat waves. For example, areas of the SoutheastandSouthwest currently experience an average of 60 days per year with a high temperature above 90°F. These areas are projected to experience 150 or more days a year above 90°F by the end of the century, under a higher emissions scenario. In addition to occurring more frequently, these very hot days are projected to be about 10°F hotter at the end of this century than they are today, under a higher emissions scenario. 
The scenarios come from the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios: B1 is a low emissions scenario, A1B is a medium-high emissions scenario, and A2 is a high emissions scenario. Source: NRC 2010
In Kansas, the weather can change dramatically from hour to hour. Just a few weeks ago we had record highs on Monday and snow on Tuesday. Historical accounts reflect the same – folks going out for a picnic and getting caught in a massive dust storm, tornado or blizzard. We all know, there is plenty of data, modeling and smart framing on climate and energy issues, however, even before the Climate Counter Movement, public opinion among conservatives in the Heartland was headed the wrong way. Surveys consistently show near unanimous skepticism about climate change in Tea Party ranks. In Frontline’s recent Climate of Doubt documentary, American’s for Prosperity said – we believe we’ve won the debate in the Heartland” and “the debate is over” on man made global warming. Smart, informed Kansans still question climate change. For Us Climate Change has become a politically polarized issue – It was seen early and increasingly as a liberal issue and an environmental issue. People in the Heartland do not consider themselves liberals or environmentalists. Clearly Plan A doesn’t work in the Heartland. So, how did we find common ground?
WE BUILT DURABLE RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON TRUST AND COMMON CAUSE. We worked very hard to find out what mattered to Kansans that also mattered to us. It isn’t about reframing our message, rather providing solutions based on heartland values – working TOGETHER to implement them – CELEBRATING success – and just flat showing it can be done with economic benefit is critical. Our skeptics don’t trust models, they don’t believe jobs projections. We must be able to prove out what we propose – make energy efficiency and renewable electricity default choices because they WORK, because they’re COST EFFECTIVE, because they build resilient local economies.
Meet people where they areIdentify common causesBuild durable relationships across differencesWork together to achieve common-sense gainsEnergy Efficiency: We found little purchase for an Energy Efficiency Standard or building codes with policymakers and less with our investor-owned utilities, so we decided to start from scratch.Knowing that peers influence peers better than we ever could, we decided to harness the competitive spirit of Kansas communities and count on peer pressure to work! The Take Charge Challenge is a community led competition designed to engage citizens in conversations about energy efficiency. The Challenge encouraged homes and small businesses to change their mind-set of efficiency from sacrifice to we win!Wind Power & Transmission. Fossil fuels will run out; and as they do, prices will rise and become volatile. In contrast, wind is locally available, never runs out, and has a fuel cost of zero. Wind isn’t perfect – two things about it – it’s variable, and right now, new transmission lines are needed to carry our great wind in the heartland to cities in the eastern US. Therefore, transmission planning is a high priority for us, and we’re very involved in the work done in our region (SPP). We convene the Heartland Alliance for Regional Transmission. HART is made up of – non-traditional stakeholders, Mayors, County Commissioners, Landowners, economic development professionals and others who want more wind energy and more efficiency to support a clean energy economy. This group is creating support for wind and efficiency throughout their own peer networks. Agricultural Energy. Ag dominates Kansas and the heartland. But the opportunities for economic development go beyond wind-farm leases and ethanol. We’re currently piloting an On Farm Water & Energy Efficiency program that will identify and spotlight innovation and leadership in water and energy use. The impacts of the two-year drought opens the door for important conversations on ways to mitigate extreme weather events.
Common Sense Climate ChangeRachel MyslivyProgram Director, Climate + Energy Project
• Plan A: Climate Change Basics• Hedging your bets, using best judgment• Talking Climate Change in Kansas• Plan B: Talking Climate Change without Talking Climate Change
Climate Change Basics• Earth is warming• Rainfall, floods, droughts, intense rain, heat waves.• Oceans warming, becoming more acidic, sea levels rising• Ice caps are melting.
Humans are largely responsiblefor recent climate change
Talking Climate Change in Kansas• Erratic weather is nothing new• Messaging• Religion, Politics and Climate Change
Major Goals of the ChallengeChange efficiency from sacrifice to “we win”.Engage communities in conversations about energyefficiency.Make serious reductions in carbon emissions in theHeartland.
• HART• provides information and a forum giving local decision-makers tools to guide transmission and energy decisions affecting them and their communities.• A diverse group of stakeholders from the eight states that make up the Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
On Farm Water and Energy Efficiency Project• Will identify and spotlight innovations in energy efficiency and water conservation on Kansas farms.• A diverse steering committee will collaboratively identify what constitutes an innovative practice and then nominate exemplary Kansas farmers.• Farmers leading the way in water and energy usage will be recognized for their leadership and innovation.
PLAN “B” Talking Climate Change without Talking Climate Change• Meet people where they are• Identify common causes• Build durable relationships across differences• Work together to achieve common-sense gains
Climate and Energy Projectwww.climateandenergy.org