Imagine a scenario where ice loss across the globe is continuing and accelerating, where glaciers around the world are declining, where global average air temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees F, where global average ocean temperatures have increased 1.3 degrees F, where global sea level has risen over 7 inches, where thawing permafrost in the arctic is releasing carbon dioxide and methane which is amplifying warming further, where coastal cities around the world are investing trillions of dollars to fortify sea walls and in some cases literally raise their cities elevation.
Unfortunately this is not science fiction and this is not a prediction, this is the current reality of what is happening as documented in the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) which was released by the Trump Administration on Black Friday. The NCA4 is a product of law that was unanimously passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush and is the United States authoritative assessment of the science of climate change. The summary of NCA4 that you can read for yourself at http://nca2018.globalchange.gov is as follows: Climate change isn’t a distant issue anymore. It’s happening today. Humans are responsible. It’s affecting every single one of us, in every part of the United States, across almost every sector. The risks to our well-being, economy and environment grow greater every day. Now is the time to act.
Now imagine if you were the leader of a nation impacted by these issues and every academy of science nationwide agreed with the findings and the need for taking rapid action, as did every other nation on the planet, every major faith organization, and nearly all major businesses including the largest corporations from the fossil fuel industry. What would you do? I doubt you would be completely dismissive of the issue, cite how you are super intelligent and know better, or talk about how this is other nations problem. Unfortunately that is exactly what our current president has done. He truly is the new face of climate change denial. He and a minority of other US political leaders are busy doing one of two things when asked about this important topic; they quickly divert to another topic as though a planet that is becoming less habitable for humankind is a lower priority, or they cite old tired arguments that any fifth grader with a web browser could easily refute. These tired and invalid arguments remind me of that scene near the end of Terminator 2 where the T-1000 falls in to the pot of hot liquid and shape shifts trying to take a form that can sustain the predicament.
It is tempting to pause and ponder the motivations for a nations leader and some of the key influencers in power to reject science, but it is a waste of time. Part of what we always need to remind ourselves is that political will is driven by ordinary citizens. Pick any major legislative milestone that benefitted humanity and you will find that it was driven by the collective attitudes and persistence of the people, not by a few old corrupt, selfish, or incompetent white men.
Now imagine if there were a solution to climate change that was effective, good for people, good for the economy, revenue neutral, and had bi-partisan support. Republicans Francis Rooney (FL-17) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) along with Democrats Ted Deutch (FL-22), John Delaney (MD-06) and Charlie Crist (FL-13) have introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA). This simple, elegant solution is a variation of the policy we have been working on with Citizens Climate Lobby, which we fully endorse and support. It will accelerate the energy transition the NCA4 report states is needed. It will create millions of jobs without growth in government and protect our pocket books. Additionally, the border adjustments in the policy will influence the rest of the world to follow our lead and implement similar carbon pricing mechanisms.
Legislation like EICDA is endorsed by economists from both sides of the political spectrum. It is endorsed by four oil and gas supermajors (BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil) and the largest solar company in the U.S. (First Solar). It’s endorsed by the largest automobile manufacturer in America (GM) and the largest electric utility in the America (Exelon). It’s endorsed by two of the largest environmental organizations (The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International) and Republican statesmen George Schultz and James Baker.
The time has come for national climate policy to be enacted. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act provides a legitimate bipartisan path forward which is critical to the sustainability of any solution. Historically, climate change has been a wedge issue dividing our political parties, and solutions like this one help showcase what climate change really is; an opportunity that can bridge us together.
As this bill is introduced and discussed further, the merchants of doubt will come out and begin to flail like the T-1000 with invalid arguments about unsettled science or negative economic impacts. Don’t fall for it, do some research yourself and then do the most important thing that you can; talk about it with everyone you know. The more accurate awareness to the solutions that exist and how they actually would help and benefit us, the better. While the EICDA will not be passed during the current lame duck session, being brought forward now continues the conversation and sets us up for a time in the future when with your help it will be passed in to law to innovate our way to a better and more prosperous future.
Lastly, a shout out to my friend, Tim Reckmeyer, who assisted by letting me re-purpose some of the factual details he got published in a recent newspaper commentary in to this blog entry.