Time’s running out…
Summer often means travel plans. How about making sure to see a unique collection of original, majestic national treasures before they disappear?
In 1850, Glacier National Park had 150 active glaciers. Today, there are just 25. If the current rate of melting continues, Glacier NP is projected to have no more glaciers by 2030! Dr Shahir Masri reports ‘we hear about global warming in terms of the average temperature of the planet, it’s important to note that warming can be quite different from one place to the next. In the case of Glacier NP, the rate of warming in upper elevation areas is nearly three times the global average.’ Glacial meltwater is critical for vast areas below mountain glaciers, agriculture will be challenged and countless species must adapt or not.
Glaciers, coral reefs, severe storms, droughts, forest fires and disappearing arctic sea ice are screeching canaries in our coal mine. Numbers don’t lie- last month atmospheric carbon dioxide levels set a new record 415 PPM, for tens of thousands of years the average was 280 PPM. As a result, all of the warmest years on record have been since 1998, 100 and even 500-year storms are happening more frequently, last year was the wettest in US history and weather-related property losses are exploding.
Some children are standing up for their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This week saw another step in the landmark case, Juliana v. United States, filed by 21 youth plaintiffs in 2015. This was a court hearing in which a three-judge panel listened to lawyers make their case as to whether or not the court has a duty under the Constitution to address climate change. For four years, the lawsuit has faced numerous failed requests from the U.S. government to stop the case from going to trial.
While this may become the court case of our time, having a major influence on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and in turn the world, we cannot afford these selfish delays. We’re racing for a cliff, the longer we wait the harder the stop and if we fail, we leave our children a dangerous and expensive world. It is not too late to avoid the worst consequences but scientists tell us we have about 12 years to seriously reduce greenhouse gasses.
How many extreme weather events must we endure to recognize that severe damage is being done that is unaccounted for? Only a price on carbon that reflects the rapidly increasing costs to society will bend the curve toward clean energy. Our children can’t afford another four years for the Juliana case to be decided nor can the glaciers.
Fortunately, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763 is an achievable bipartisan policy to slow greenhouse gasses and invigorate the economy. A revenue neutral carbon price sends a clear market signal unleashing entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy while empowering citizens. This Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D) bill places a fee on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, port of entry) and returns all the money to US citizens as dividends. It is:
- effective cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half, addressing all sectors and creating over 2.8 million jobs;
- efficient providing clear price signals for climate-smart investments and getting the money to citizens for adaptation and mitigation;
- equitable- all of the money collected is returned to American households, about 2/3 break even or receive more in their dividend checks than they would pay in higher prices due to the fee, thereby protecting the poor and middle class.
The Dividend is the key to making this something we can all embrace. By returning the funds collected to every citizen, we get to decide what to do with the dividends.
The clean energy revolution is happening in spite of our government’s failure to protect us from the increasing risks and costs of the climate crisis. Carbon Fee & Dividend will save lives, reduce conflict and improve the well-being of future generations.
John Kondos is a founder of Home-Efficiency Resources, the Monadnock Sustainability Network (whose mission is to promote credible, sustainable practices in the region) and the Monadnock chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.