Will we heed the warnings and possibly avoid a terrifying crisis? Or like the previous warnings for tobacco, opioids and the housing bubble, will we ignore the warning signs?
In all these cases business interests spread doubts and delayed action while reaping more ill-gotten profits. The stakes are much higher this time since greenhouse gasses kill and destroy property indiscriminatingly and these gasses being pumped & dumped for free increase the suffering for future generations and countess species.
We’ve heard the problem is about sea level and coastlines. We’re starting to see that climate change is really an all-enveloping threat, which promises to transform, probably deform every life lived on the planet in some way. More than half of all of the fossil fuel emissions that we’ve put into the atmosphere have come in the last 25 years, so it’s accelerating fast. Most scientists have not pursued scenarios above about 2 degrees C of warming. It was called the threshold of catastrophe, and nobody really wanted to think about it. If we fail to act, it turns out that 2 degrees C looks more like the floor for warming rather than our ceiling. Since 1880 we’ve raised carbon dioxide levels from 280 PPM to 415 PPM which has raised average temperatures by 1 degree C (1.8 F)! These are indisputable FACTS.
For a livable world, we need actions now.
To start, nationally there’s a bipartisan bill that puts money in every household budget and brings greenhouse gas emissions down 90 percent by 2050. Please support this effective, equitable, efficient and achievable legislation- US House bill 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This groundbreaking bipartisan climate solution to price carbon, gives the revenue to households as dividends. Let’s start by taxing what we burn not what we earn and unleashing entrepreneurs to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy.
In NH, our State Representatives will vote on overriding the vetoes of several key bills on September 18 and 19. These are modest steps to reducing the crisis:
- HB365 Expands Net Metering (selling excess energy production back to the electric grid) allowing businesses, towns and school districts to generate more (from current 1 megawatt (MW) to 5 MW) clean power.
- SB 168 would increase the percentage of solar energy that utilities would have to include in the electricity they sell. It raises the percentage, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), to 5.4% by 2025, as compared to the current 0.7%.
- SB72 strengthens the NH requirement that utilities must get 25% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025 by preventing utilities from counting the solar output from people and businesses that don’t register their Renewable Energy Credits.
- SB 205 returns control of energy efficiency programs to the PUC removing political influence.
There are also local actions to consider including Community Supported Solar, Solarize, Electric Vehicles, Ready for 100% and energy efficiency initiatives. To learn more or get involved please visit www.GreenMonadnock.org.
Because elected leaders have ignored the warnings for decades, we see regular 500-year storms, more intense precipitation and droughts, unprecedented fires in Alaska and Siberia, significant loss of glacial and arctic ice, record heat waves, etc. These are measurable and real, it is a crisis unfolding in real time.
So far, some towns and homes have been lost. Then a city or an island country like the Maldives will face mass migrations. Weak countries may slip into chaos incapable of addressing the human tragedy. Areas less affected will become magnets for migrants. Food insecurity will spread in poorer areas most vulnerable to floods, droughts and severe weather.
We can no longer afford elected officials who ignore warnings from scientists, our military, a rapidly growing number of citizens and businesses. This is a failure to protect us from losses of life and property, social and economic upheaval and is endangering children.
Of course, we’ll need to learn to adapt but continued delays make it harder and more costly. It’s time to act for a livable world.
John Kondos is a founding member of the Monadnock Sustainability Network (whose mission is to promote credible, sustainable practices in the region), the Monadnock Energy Hub and the Monadnock chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.