Denial - "Isn't it a problem when science guys attempt to bully other people?" - some idiot journalist
Denial is a natural reaction to any trauma, but it won't change the truth. Carbon [and methane] emissions are causing the planet to get hotter. Nye goes to Florida where 75% of residents will be submerged by 2100, yet they're in the midst of a construction boom. Dr. Ben Kirtman, Miami scientist, says, "There shouldn't be a debate anymore about climate change...The debate should be about how to design solutions to the problem." Public officials in Florida are not allowed to discuss climate change, so that's a problem.
Anger - "No country that found 170 billion barrels of oil would leave it in the ground." - Trudeau
Then we get angry at the reality of the situation and start chaining ourselves to machinery. If more pipelines are built, it will poison more air, land, and water, and increase the rate of climate change. Canadian companies and politicians know about climate change, yet continue to expand and exploit and devastate the area. What are they thinking?!! Without limits, if the tar stands continue as planned, we will emit more carbon than the USA and China have in their entire histories combined. Canada is a big part of the global climate change problem, and Trudeau thinks we can have our pipeline and decrease emissions too. He's just wrong. The tar sands must be shut down.
Bargaining - "A vain expression of hope that the bad news is reversible." - Changing Minds
Now we're trying to look for ways to cut a deal and negotiate a way out of the crisis without it being too inconvenient for us, but there is no easy way out. Cap and trade calls for emitters to keep emissions below a certain level. In principle, it's great, but there are ways to fudge it. (Story of Stuff has a great primer on it.) It requires strong oversight to work. Some of the biggest winners are landfills when they turn methane into fuel to power thousands of homes. And carbon capture can cut 1 million tons/year, but the tar sands at its current size produces 62 million, and global emissions are at 32 billion tons/year. While big business bargains with emissions, coastal villages are hoping engineers can help with raising homes another four feet and building seawalls. They see it as being pro-active, but it really just buys time without fixing the underlying problem.
Depression - "I can't imagine there will be a human being on the planet in 2030." - McPherson
When we see the drawbacks of bargaining, we slip into a depression. We knew all this was happening decades ago, and we didn't act on it. I remember my grade six teacher teaching about the effects of a one degree temperature rise back in 1975, and Frank Capra made a documentary about it in the 50s! Yet here we are with evaporating water supplies, historic weather events, the California drought... Millions have already experienced climate change's effects first hand. Scientist and author (see his videos too) Guy McPherson has run the numbers to conclude that we're going to run out of habitat for our species. We'll collapse largely because of the death of many of the organisms that we rely on. McPherson lives with a basement of canned good that reminded me of my grade ten teacher who lived in a bomb shelter. We found our way to the other side of the cold war (so far), but this one will be even more difficult.
Acceptance - "I'm not dead yet; I think I'll go for a walk. I feel happy!" - Monty Python
We need to accept how terribly bad it all is, and work our asses off to change the system! Science and technology have helped a bit, but we need everyone to change their living habits and pester politicians and CEOs worldwide, to get on board with renewable energy systems. Mark Jacobson has calculated that we can transition away from fossil fuels 80% by 2030 by using wind, solar, and water power (see his no nukes TEDTalk here). Wind is the cheapest form of electricity by far. The problem is that the existing infrastructure companies will fight it, and they have all the money and power. Too many politicians and CEOs have put all their pennies into one dirty basket, and they will kill any idea that loses their life savings. A huge attitude change is necessary.
Hope - "Emissions have plateaued, but we have to drastically reduce emissions further or we'll be remembered as the generation that killed the planet."
I love the paradox in that quotation - that we could be remembered at all after our species is gone. Nye gives us a sense of two 2050 scenarios: if we do nothing compared to doing everything. If we do nothing, we'll see a rise of six degrees, and global warming will be out of control. The Amazon rainforest will turn into a savannah; the western US will be dry and snowless; the Colorado river will dry up; hurricanes will increase by a full category; and the world food and water supplies will be decimated. If we do everything, we might live to see 2050.
Doing everything means petitioning the powers that be, but also distinguishing our needs from our wants, and only driving, flying, turning on the AC, eating meat, and buying plastics, etc. when it's necessary to our livelihood - not because it makes us a bit happier or comfortable or relieves boredom, but because we can't actually survive adequately without it. At the very least, whatever you're doing now that unnecessarily adds to emissions, cut it down dramatically. We need to walk, bike, and take trains more, acclimatize to the changing weather as much as possible without electricity, plant more trees, eat more vegetables and legumes, and all that jazz. We know what we need to do, we just have to wake up enough - we need to get that little shiver of panic running down our spine when we think about about all this - in order to actually save ourselves from ourselves.