Check out this recent piece by NASA Climate scientist James Hansen - it touches on (once again) the gap between what the scientists know, and what the public and policy-makers understand.
This gap lies at the heart of why we need to move away from reductionism, where we study and address everything in isolation in separate disciplines /departments /silos / sectors / drill holes, to a whole-system approach where policy makers and scientists, engineers and biologists, economists and consumers, businessmen and school teachers, can understand eachother because they have a shared, relevant view of the whole-system. This is the first step in taking a strategic appraoch to sustainability.
But I digress, Hansen's article offers 5 things we need to do, now, to address global warming. I think there are more inspiring ways we could go about addressing the challenge - and people are starting to do that, finding synergistic solutions through sustainable urban planning, green building, sustainable product design, permaculture, and the like - but these would certainly help, and are straight forward, necessary actions, regardless if they come about through transformational change of global society or through regulation:
1) Put a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants until we have the technology to capture and sequester the CO2
2) Put a price on emissions
3) Establish and enforce energy-efficiency standards (buildings & vehicles)
4) Study and report on ice-sheet stability (not sure how knowing more about the symptom helps us cure the root cause, but it's certainly important research, especially as we are forced to focus on adaptation as well as mitigation)
5) Reform of communication practices (so we can avoid the disasters of reductionism)
The full piece is brief, and available here: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070507/hansen