The report issued this month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be the top news. IPPC was established in 1988 as an international organization that reviews and assesses the most recent information around climate change from scientists and research from all over the world. This is a strictly reviewed and objective assessment. It affects our children, animals, social justice, health, food systems, people in the US, and all over the world.
We basically have 12 years to keep this planet from warming to unmanageable levels which will no longer sustain life as we know it by the end of this century. The children alive now will face the worst of this. We’re already seeing the effects in increased heat waves, stronger intense storms, more floods, droughts and wildfire. This will get exponentially worse, and fast.
I’ve been giving a few presentations locally about climate change after completing Climate Reality Leadership Training. The idea is if we go into our communities and talk face to face about what is happening, why it is happening, and what the solutions are, we can work together for our future.
In the main two States I have lived in, Oregon and Washington, we have initiatives on our ballot to work towards decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. Are they perfect? Possibly not yet, but they are our best chance to start moving in the right direction and moving faster towards lowering carbon emissions before it gets worse. And we’ve been seeing it get worse in front of our eyes in this region too. The main arguments against making change seem to be based around economy. Coal miners will lose jobs, gas prices will rise. Well, our economy will be shifting now or later, regardless. We can embrace renewables and clean energy and lower our costs now. Or, we can continue to pay rising costs of natural disasters, health issues from pollution and diseases like Zika which are spreading in a warmer climate, and pay more as crops decline from drought and dwindling water resources. Think about who really profits from our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar and wind energy are available to us and the prices keep coming down, which is not profitable to those who have been reaping the rewards of polluting our planet without paying. Our current leadership is full of people directly linked to these fossil fuel industries and they have a financial interest in keeping the public from taking action.
Climate deniers like to say that the climate is always changing, that there is nothing to be done, and that we are alarmists. The proof is here, we were told 30 years ago this was happening, and now we are witnessing it. Trump has now moved from saying it is a hoax made up from the Chinese, to something that it goes “back and forth”, is not caused by us, and might harm the economy. We’ve been told not to make the message too scary, but fear seems to motivate about half our country. And we still have hope and solutions available if we can understand how urgent and massive our challenges are, so we can stop stalling. I would say one of our biggest challenges is our political division, and that environmental protection is only embraced by one party. If there is one uniting issue, it should be clean air, water and a livable future for our children.
Mobilization against this climate crisis is now being compared to World War 2 as far as the type of wide-scale and global efforts needed. We need to radically shift to lower carbon on a federal, state, city and even individual level. We can have the motivation to work for something so much larger and more important than ourselves. When you look at history, there have been times when people have been faced with ethical choices such as in Nazi Germany and the Civil Rights Movement, for just a couple of examples. They could resist, they could go along with the mainstream, or they could ignore it. Since facing extinction is a pretty heavy concept for us to really think about, it feels better to ignore it and think someone else will fix this. That hasn’t happened in the last 30 years, and at this point we have a government intent on rolling back our EPA regulations and creating more fossil fuels for very short-term benefit. My theory is that the very wealthy think they can be protected from the worst since they can afford to move, have bunkers, etc. This planet is our home, and if we destroy our environment, the economy will be the least of our problems. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
I have been talking more about climate change than food lately, but moving to a plant-based diet actually makes a very large difference. We won’t be able to reach our carbon goals without factoring the animal agriculture industry into this. It’s important to do whatever we can to push with our marketing power towards sustainable food, packaging, minimizing waste, and choosing the most green transportation, energy sources and building options. The market will respond to this, and is already. It’s not Option A, B or C, it’s Option A + B + C
We can’t fix this with only individual lifestyle changes while the biggest polluters continue to spew carbon, but we can move the needle using our purchasing power. Most importantly, we need to realize the power that each of us has, both inherently, and as part of a democracy, and use your vote! This is our time in history to step up to this challenge and choose which side we will take.
What will we tell our children? When they are faced with the effects of climate change gone unchecked?
We were worried it would hurt the economy. We didn’t want to change the way we travel, eat or live. We didn’t think it would actually happen — even though we had all the evidence needed, by scientist and directly witnessing storms growing more intense, record-breaking heat temperatures for the last 4 years, coral reefs and wildlife dying, drought and more wildfires.
The children being born now, they don’t even get a chance to make a difference. But we still can. This is not a Republican/Democrat issue, this challenge has no boundaries between countries, and it requires immediate action. This is our generation’s crisis.
I spend a lot of time researching and working on this issue because it affects us all. By addressing Climate Change we help social justice issues, animals, health, really any issue we face just gets intensified as Climate Change gets worse. We need to make Climate Change the biggest priority because without it- black lives, standing for the flag, abortion, LGBQT, women’s rights, all of that won’t even matter. We can still care about these issues, but put Climate Change first as a central mobilizing cause for which we can all unite.
I’m already quite worried that my young teenagers don’t have the hope and potential we all had. But I will be able to face them and tell them I did know, and I did not ignore this.
Whether or not you have children, how can we let the future generation inherit a future so bleak? How can we let all the amazing animals who share our planet go extinct when we can do something? Let’s take drastic measures and prolong what may be inevitable, but doesn’t need to be sped up.
We have to stop talking about what will happen if we take action on climate change, and start talking about what will happen if we don’t.
After attending my first meeting, I was impressed with the organization and approach. It was especially gratifying that it is a grassroots, nonprofit bipartisan solution to fight climate change at a national level. CCL has created a House Climate Solutions Caucus in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. It has grown to 90 members already, joined in pairs- Republican and Democrats together.
Their main climate solution is a carbon fee and dividend. While it seems complicated to explain, it’s actually quite simple. Basically, the carbon fee places a price on carbon at the point of extraction (mine, well, or port of entry). This will start at $15/metric ton and increase each year. All the money collected will be distributed to households as a monthly dividend.
This will cause consumers to be more aware of the price of carbon choices, and hasten the move to less expensive and cleaner renewable energy. How will this help with Climate Change?
(From CCL’s website) A study from REMI shows that carbon fee-and-dividend will reduce CO2 emissions 52% below 1990 levels in 20 years and that recycling the revenue creates an economic stimulus that adds 2.8 million jobs to the economy.
A structured rising price on greenhouse gas emissions will focus business planning on optimizing investment priorities to thrive in a carbon-constrained world.
Additionally, Carbon Fee and Dividend is projected to prevent over 230,000 premature deaths over 20 years from improved air quality.
Republicans should appreciate that it does not increase the size of government, require new bureaucracies or directly increase government revenues.
As part of implementing this policy, CCL trains and supports its volunteers in many ways.
I had mentioned in the last post how incredibly motivated I have been to work on climate change efforts, so I jumped in as usual and started getting signatures, and even helped at a booth right away. I received a call soon after asking if I would like to join the NW chapter of CCL headed to Washington D.C. in November after the midterm elections to make sure our Representatives know that Climate Change is a priority issue. The head of our chapter told me they like to have at least one new member go on these trips. I had marked on the form passed around in my first meeting that I was interested but would need financial help to attend. CCL would have a small stipend to give me if I could raise the majority of the money myself. I told them I needed to think about it for a few days.
It’s not cheap. Based on sharing a room for three nights and using some of my miles, it would still cost over $800 at least to attend (not even counting the meals on my own). I didn’t feel excited about the idea of traveling to Washington D.C., or doing this type of political work. But, I am learning to overcome this type of fear and take action anyway. At one point, I had talked myself out of it since I really wasn’t comfortable asking for money on top of everything. Then I had a revelation of sorts, “this is not really even about me”. I am not going to Washington D.C. because I want to, or for enjoyment, I am doing it because I believe this is one of the best shots at curbing carbon emissions for our future generations.
Not to say that going on this trip will be a hardship, there will be new people to meet and skills to learn. It has been called a life-changing experience. I’m embracing the idea of saying yes to things that push me, and it keeps opening up more opportunities.
So, here I am over half way to my fundraising goal of $650. There is no turning back now — the 10 friends and family members who have contributed to this trip are now part of this mission, and I can’t thank them enough for their support! I’ve committed to CCL that I will attend, but have not reached my goal yet.
If you would like to make any size donation, you will be part of making this happen. And I will do my very best in every way to make this trip successful. There is simply too much at stake for anything less.