Is reversing global warming too ambitious?

Jul 3, 2018

By John Porterfield

Reverse Global Warming? Ambitious, no? Let’s pick the idea apart.

Reading the weekly science newsletter in grade school piqued my interest. Preparation for the International Geophysical Year was “front page!” Scientists from around the world, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and Ecuador, collaborated to better understand our planet. Oceanographer Roger Revelle, whose 1957 study brought serious scientific attention to global warming, and also:

  • Was instrumental in creating the International Geophysical Year
  • Submerged in “Alvin” at the ocean floor, helped “nail” plate tectonics theory as Director of Scripps Institute of Oceanography
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Science, awarded by President George H. W. Bush

Smell that smoke.

Revelle advocated prudent action to address the root cause of global warming, which, 60 years ago, he ascribed to humans shifting eons of stored carbon into the atmosphere over a score of decades. (Disclosure: I provided Energy Star rating for Illinois’ first “zero carbon” residence of William Revelle, son of Roger Revelle.)

Vignette:  Felix Finkbeiner, crunched the carpet of leaves, suffering a bout of mental indigestion. Traipsing the near-by woods, Felix wrapped his head around a world of grownups willing to bequeath a planet at risk to his generation — inter-generational injustice. It dawned on this astute 9-year old that grownups would talk about global warming but they would not do anything. As his light of awareness grew, Felix thought: children around the world would plant one trillion trees. Spearheading this response to risks, Plant-For-The-Planet (dot org) now engages 100,000 youth in 131 countries, shooting now for their 16 billionth planting.

Here in Ecuador I support studies and pilot programs that aim to reverse global warming, focusing on 100 solutions seen at

“Back in the U. S. A.” (Disclosure:  Chuck Berry was a fellow Missourian) I continue to advocate U.S. adoption of carbon fee and dividend legislation proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby (dot org): charge a fee for extraction of fossil fuels, then distribute all revenue equally among households. Carbon fee and dividend: simple, equitable, market-friendly, and a very similar policy, in its tenth year, continues to work well in British Columbia.

Many of us have, I’m sure, had words about global warming. The frequent result is a brief tit for tat. Sadly, what may be spoken is a “sound bite” that terminates, rather than informs conversation.

Because I focus on reversing global warming, and forecast risks are catastrophic, I avoid conversation that entertains doubt about science, the economic and moral “high ground” of reducing risks, or that justifies the reversal of U.S. global warming policy. We don’t have time (dot org).

I am open to hear how the National Academy of Sciences, World Federation of Public Health Associations, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration may have run off the rails in their assessment of global warming. (Please point out a specific error!)  A link to 198 scientific organizations throughout the world: list-of-scientific-organizations.html

So, I am happy to hear where you stand. And if your stance is that governance has no crucial role in the matter I will amicably leave the conversation at that and venture another subject. If your stance is that every person has a role in reversing global warming, then we shall talk!


John Porterfield has worked for forty years constructing energy efficiency in buildings, mostly through his private business. His work has focused on program/project management; instruction design/development/delivery; certification in building performance standards. In Ecuador, he has supported the sustainability efforts of universities, most recently providing a comparison of on-line footprint calculators for the climate change observatory team (OPSA) of Pontificial Universidad Catolica de Ecuador. John can be reached at

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