Great seeing you the other day! And I appreciate your suggestion about keeping these columns clear and easy to understand. With this Saturday being Earth Day it’s a perfect time to make a clear statement about what may be the most daunting environmental challenge of our lifetimes – climate change. So here’s the scoop from where I sit.
First of all, it’s real. Burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas releases greenhouse gasses that warm the planet and change the climate. Some claim there’s still controversy over this scientific reality. Not so. Greed and “tribalism” have made it appear that there’s controversy where there is none. Some fossil fuel companies have purposely spread doubt and confusion about the issue so they can continue to sell their goods. It’s like what the tobacco companies did concerning smoking and cancer. Second, in today’s polarized “tribal” society folks tend to stick with the message their group supports even if the reality lies elsewhere.
Sometimes people say they don’t “believe” in climate change. But it’s not a matter of belief; it’s a matter of trusting scientific knowledge. Every major scientific organization and 97% of climate scientists worldwide agree that by burning fossil fuels we’re rapidly (in geologic terms) changing the climate.
And this is a problem. Changes on the Earth that usually take place over thousands of years are now happening in decades. Plants, animals and humans have little time to adapt. Increasingly violent and more frequent storms generated from a warmer atmosphere are hammering our infrastructure costing taxpayers big bucks. These higher temperatures increase the likelihood of drought and invite new insects and diseases. Additional carbon in our air is making the oceans increasingly acidic altering their eco-systems. Our military calls all of these issues “threat multipliers” that make it harder to keep our nation safe.
The good news is we can reduce the risks, and it doesn’t have to be costly to do so. It’s actually an economic opportunity. A Carbon Fee & Dividend plan, supported by leaders of both political parties and even by some oil companies would dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy. Every American household would receive an annual dividend while jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency industries expand. Technology is on our side too. Just look at how cell phones have rapidly transformed communication. We’re making similar progress in the clean energy field.
Gib, if you had just one grandchild and 97 out of 100 doctors told you she was running a fever because of something you were doing, you’d of course make some changes. We all have just this one Earth; it’s running a fever, and we’re making it worse. It’s time to make some changes because we’re here forever…Earthbound.