Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | May 27, 2017

How bad does Climate Change have to get?

By Tom Krystofiak | Apr 27, 2017

To the editor:

Climate change is a clear and present danger, documented by science. But it does not yet feel dangerous enough for us as a nation to do something about it.

What will it take – how bad do things need to get – before we are ready to take action? When we recognized other dangers in the past, we took bold action: we eliminated DDT and we instituted a campaign of warnings, education and taxation to reduce the use of cigarettes.

Poisons in the environment we could understand, especially when it was leading toward the extinction of the American Eagle. Cancer and emphysema in loved ones or friends we could understand. We cannot yet understand, it seems, that we are on a path now to ruin the health of the planet as a whole – and that this will affect everyone.

Polar ice is shrinking, glaciers are melting, seas are beginning to rise, droughts are getting deadly, wildfires and floods and violent weather events are increasing. Climate disruptions are making the world less stable politically, contributing to migrations and refugees and regional conflicts.

And all this is only the beginning. But somehow, we insulate ourselves from the evident trends – thinking maybe it won’t be as bad as scientists predict, maybe we can get away with doubting it or ignoring it, maybe our grandkids will somehow be lucky and not feel the terrible brunt of a world we are turning into climate chaos.

It does not help that there are climate change deniers recommending inaction. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion, but when you oppose the conclusions of 97 percent of published climate scientists you had better have awfully good evidence to back up your position. There will always be a few scientists on “the other side” of any question; this does not mean that the overwhelming majority view is any less compelling.

The prudent response, given the enormity of the dangers, is not to doubt or ignore the evidence, but to face the problem head on – to move quickly away from fossil fuels and foster innovation and expansion of renewable energy. This goes beyond party politics. A group of traditional Republicans, led by James Baker, has proposed a carbon tax (which is not a traditional tax but a redistribution of revenues to all the people) to discourage fossil fuels and thereby boost alternative energy. Alternative energy means good jobs, technological leadership, and above all a reduction of greenhouse gases.

This crisis is urgent, not some hypothetical future problem. What can we do? Put pressure on our leaders. Keep the pressure on. On April 29, the People’s Climate March will take place all over the country and the world, including a major rally in Des Moines at 1pm on the Capitol grounds. Join the growing wave of people who are gathering to say “enough is enough – it’s long past time to move boldly toward a safer future.”

 

– Tom Krystofiak, Fairfield

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