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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2017

How much will you bet on climate change?

By Thom Krystofiak | Jun 22, 2017

To the editor:

Each of us, whether we know it or not, is participating in what may be the biggest bet of all time – even if we would never think of ourselves as gamblers. And the stakes are incredibly high.

I am talking about our climate. Imagine that you do not believe what 97 percent of published climate scientists have painstakingly concluded – that we face a terribly serious threat from human-caused climate change. Imagine that you give these scientists, say, only a 30 percent chance of being right, and a 70 percent chance of being wrong.

Even then, there is no question that you would still be wise to place your bet that climate change and its enormous risks are real.

Here’s why. Imagine that an asteroid has been discovered, hurtling toward Earth, and that it has been concluded that there is a 30 percent chance that it will strike us, severely damaging civilization on a global scale. Imagine further that we have the technological means to avert this collision.

Even though you would have a 70 percent chance of being right if you bet against the collision, you would be crazy to make that bet. Vigorously supporting all efforts to avoid the crash is the only sane, responsible choice. Too much is at stake to bet the future of civilization based on your sense that “it’s not certain enough.”

Like that, humanity simply cannot afford to be wrong about the climate. No one, no matter how wealthy or secure, can afford to lose this bet. What do we gain if we bet that climate change won’t be all that bad, and we do little or nothing to stop it?

The fossil fuel industry will continue to reap its profits, and we will get the convenience of sticking with our familiar economy and our oil-driven ways of doing business. But what’s on the other side of the wager? What do we stand to lose if we bet against aggressive action on climate change?

The very livability of the planet, and the security, health, and well-being of our children, grandchildren and all future generations. We are looking at droughts and floods and fires and destructive weather events; sea-level rise that engulfs all coastal areas; the proliferation of diseases; the decimation of agriculture in many areas; mass migrations the likes of which have never been seen; international turmoil and the gravest threats to our national security.

The only way to place the right bet in this case is to support aggressive policies to reverse the flow of carbon into the atmosphere and rapidly transition to clean, affordable, sustainable and job-creating energy sources like wind and solar. And since our elected officials are the only ones who can enact such policy, we must demand that our leaders rise to the challenge immediately and, going forward, we must elect candidates committed to making sane climate change policy their priority.

Let’s set politics aside and get to work mitigating the risks of climate change now.

 

– Thom Krystofiak, Fairfield

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