We need a cli­mate ‘ traf­fic light’

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -


Like most peo­ple, I’m ab­so­lutely heart­bro­ken by the im­ages of de­struc­tion in Hous­ton and parts of the Caribbean and Florida caused by Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma, and I can’t help but see a con­nec­tion be­tween these storms and the fact that our cli­mate is chang­ing. The gov­ern­ment’s top pri­or­ity should of course be to aid the vic­tims, and then, once their needs are met, it’s high time to ad­dress our warm­ing planet.

As your edi­to­rial, “The hor­ror and hero­ism in Hous­ton,” pointed out, the Hamp­ton Roads area could be eas­ily im­pacted by a fu­ture storm.

When we no­tice that there are a num­ber of auto ac­ci­dents at a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­sec­tion, we call on our lo­cal of­fi­cials to add traf­fic signs or lights to pre­vent more peo­ple from be­ing in­jured or killed there. Sim­i­larly, now that we’re see­ing hur­ri­canes that keep in­creas­ing in both in­ten­sity and fre­quency, we must de­mand that our law­mak­ers take ac­tion to re­duce the car­bon diox­ide emis­sions that are caus­ing sea lev­els to rise and sur­face tem­per­a­tures to in­crease, mak­ing for more ex­treme weather events.

I be­lieve that the “traf­fic light” we need is a car­bon fee-and-div­i­dend pol­icy that would place a steadily ris­ing fee on fos­sil fu­els at the source, and then re­turn the rev­enue to Amer­i­can house­holds on a monthly ba­sis. It would have bi­par­ti­san ap­peal and ben­e­fit the economy, the peo­ple, and the planet.


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