Reductions of greenhouse gases become achievable by 2030

Published 4:03 pm Friday, August 14, 2020

On August 5, the Advocate-Messenger published an article by Christopher Flavell and Henry Fountain about simultaneous climate disasters not being freak occurrences.

They cited tropical storm Isaias battering the East Coast while the Apple Fire raged in California. Storms are stronger and carry more rain because of higher ocean temperatures. Devastating fires produce smoke which aggravates respiratory problems, now more deadly during the pandemic. 

They wrote that this was “a preview of life under climate change: a relentless grind of overlapping disasters, major and minor.” We should heed this warning.

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Climate change, climate scientists tell us, is due to the greenhouse gases we produce burning fossil fuels. The release of carbon dioxide and methane gas into the lower atmosphere causes these climate extremes, resulting also in melting glaciers and polar ice, sea level rises, and greater flooding.

The science is settled but climate deniers play on our fears of change – saying  we don’t have to develop the new technologies of sustainable energy or invest in the future health of people and the planet. On the contrary, we must not only spend to keep pace with minor disasters, but also reduce air and water pollution while innovating further and creating the infrastructure for sustainable energy. 

Climate deniers claim to be free market capitalists, but they forget that private and public monies have been invested cooperatively in past technological leaps, like building the interstate highway system and developing the internet. Now there are solutions that conservatives and progressives can work out together so America leads in new technologies and has a just transition for the economy and society. 

One solution is the carbon fee (on fossil fuels) and dividends plan  This provides a stable system of transition where energy companies are motivated financially to turn their investment from what endangers our future to what will sustain it.  

The carbon fee starts small and most of the money is paid as dividends to American households to cover a temporary increase in energy prices. Fossil fuel energy coming from abroad is taxed, too, so that it does not undermine the process.

The fee continues to rise at a predictable rate and when benchmarks are met, government regulation is reduced. Reductions of greenhouse gases become achievable by 2030 and we avoid the tipping point of major, irreversible climate disaster. 

But every year that we delay makes it harder to succeed. For more, consult

Margaret Gardiner