By Jean Gerth Anderson
Next week, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 50 Sandpoint High School students will be presenting posters focused on solutions to climate change, with $1,000 in prize money at stake. The event is coordinated with a talk to be given at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium by Dr. Steven Ghan, titled “The Big Carbon Fix.”
Dr. Ghan is a climate scientist with world-class credentials; he recently received a lifetime Achievement award from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and was a contributing editor to three reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also just completed hiking 1,500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Dr. Ghan will address common misconceptions about climate change and discuss solutions that are acceptable to a wide spectrum of folks. Everyone, especially climate skeptics, are welcome to this free event.
Do I believe in climate change (aka global warming)? Not really, because “belief” implies having an opinion, or faith, that something is true. I don’t believe in climate change — I understand that climate change is real. And I understand that now is the time to act to stem its impact.
Even in Bonner County, I am far from alone. According to Yale University (https://climatecommunication.yale.edu, under “visualizations and data” and based on modeling that is thoroughly explained on the website) out of 30,431 adults in Bonner County:
• 66 percent “believe global warming is happening”
• 58 percent “believe global warming is affecting weather”
And while only 50 percent in Bonner County “believe that global warming is caused mostly by human activities,” there is very strong support for policies addressing reduction of carbon emissions, which is all we really need to agree on.
• 84 percent want to fund research into renewable energy sources
• 80 percent want to provide tax rebates for energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels
• 73 percent want to regulate CO2 as a pollutant
• 62 percent want to require fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax
Of course, the difficulty lies in implementing any of those policies. Dr. Ghan promotes a plan put forth by Citizens’ Climate Lobby (https://citizensclimatelobby.org/).
Designed with input from politicians, economists and scientists, CCL promotes bipartisan legislation to impose a fee on carbon as it comes out of the ground and return the collected money to the American people, allocated in equal shares every month. Among the projected outcomes from the fee and dividend plan is a reduction in carbon emissions by 40 percent within 12 years, and the creation of two million clean-energy jobs.
Legislation based on this approach, called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, was introduced in late 2018 to both the House and Senate, with bipartisan support.
Do you want to do something, or do more, about climate change? Please don’t put it off. Educate yourself about the current state of the world and the projections for the future (Search in your browser for: IPCC 2018 for the UN report; national climate assessment 2018 for U.S. government report).
Consider supporting CCL and the proposed legislation. Come to listen to the high school students and ask questions of Dr. Ghan. Talk to high school students, and lend them your support and encouragement. Join the local chapter of CCL at www.cclsandpoint.org. And, of course, write to Rep. Fulcher, Sen. Crapo and Sen. Risch and ask them to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (S. 3791 / H.R. 7173). In our time of bitter partisan squabbling, climate change may actually bring us together.
For the sake of our kids, who will be living with the results of our action or inaction for the rest of their lives, just do something. Now.
Jean Gerth Anderson is a founding member of local climate group 350Sandpoint.org.
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