End cli­mate change de­nial

It’s up to us to in­form our lead­ers in Congress that we value the en­vi­ron­ment’s health

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Ch­eryl Ar­ney, El­li­cott City

Add the sci­ence of cli­mate change to the list of phenom­ena about which Congress has so far shown will­ful ig­no­rance (“Sci­ence in self-in­ter­est,” Aug. 21). By claim­ing that cli­mate change is a hoax or by cast­ing doubt on the over­whelm­ing sci­en­tific con­sen­sus that it is oc­cur­ring and that hu­mans are caus­ing it, Congress re­lieves it­self from hav­ing to deal with it.

And that is un­for­giv­able be­cause cli­mate change unchecked may lit­er­ally make our planet un­liv­able. Fur­ther­more, we know what must be done to stop it — re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

Al­though there are other sources of th­ese emis­sions, one huge source is the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els. We must tran­si­tion away from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els and do it quickly. Other en­ergy sources are avail­able: so­lar pho­to­voltaic, so­lar ther­mal, wind tur­bines, nu­clear and hy­dro­elec­tric. Hu­man in­ge­nu­ity will de­velop more over time. What it takes is the po­lit­i­cal will to make this tran­si­tion.

That’s where we come in. We elect ev­ery mem­ber of Congress, and so Congress re­flects our wishes. So we have to face what sci­ence is telling us and quit show­ing will­ful ig­no­rance about cli­mate change. We have to tell our sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tive that we want ac­tion.

Ac­tion might re­quire sac­ri­fice. But if we act soon and act sen­si­bly, that sac­ri­fice will be min­i­mal. Most econ­o­mists rec­om­mend putting a price on car­bon as the best way to en­cour­age the mar­ket to choose al­ter­nate en­ergy sources. If that causes con­sumer prices to rise, re­turn­ing all the rev­enue col­lected to us as a monthly “div­i­dend” check would cush­ion the blow. In fact, a study has shown that some house­holds would ac­tu­ally come out ahead.

Putting a price on car­bon has pos­i­tive ef­fects, too. As air pol­lu­tion from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els goes down, over­all health im­proves and lives are saved. New jobs are cre­ated in re­new­able en­ergy industries.

We are al­ready get­ting hints of our fu­ture if we fail to act: Ex­treme weather events such as 6 inches of rain in two hours in El­li­cott City and 30 inches in south Louisiana in two days; ris­ing sea level caus­ing streets to be un­der­wa­ter in South Florida and Nor­folk, Va., when the sun is shin­ing; av­er­age global tem­per­a­ture warm­ing at an alarm­ing rate — July was the warm­est month ever on record.

Ex­treme weather events are fore­cast to in­crease in fre­quency and in­ten­sity. How can our coun­try af­ford the cleanup? Do we want to pay the price in hu­man suf­fer­ing and lives lost? If we’re see­ing th­ese events now, what will our planet be like for our grand­chil­dren?

I’ve cho­sen to lobby Congress in per­son about cli­mate change. When I do, I take along a pic­ture of my grand­daugh­ter and dis­play it on the ta­ble be­side me. It re­minds me and the con­gres­sional staffer I’m meet­ing with that what we do now about cli­mate change will af­fect the planet she and all of our grand­chil­dren will in­herit. It’s im­por­tant.

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