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home : opinion : opinion July 18, 2019

4/17/2019 11:32:00 PM
Guest Column
Earth Day 2019

Allen Hubbard
Guest Columnist

Before World War II, Winston Churchill told Great Britain, “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.”

Think about that as you ponder our early spring weather. On April 2, the thermometer read 35 degrees, and fat snowflakes fell briefly. The next day was 70 degrees and sunny. Humans may be able to get used to this roller-coaster, but animals can’t.

For instance, many birds don’t know when to migrate and perish as a result. Birds time their migrations to arrive when food sources are ready. This year’s freakish weather meant some food wasn’t available, and natural patterns were thrown out of whack. That’s one consequence of climate change, and there are many.

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Humanity has waffled for decades, while data from economists and climate scientists came in. We didn’t want to alter our habits: That can be inconvenient, complicated or expensive, and it requires sacrifices. But the problem is now well-defined: Humans emit 40 billion tons of CO2 equivalents annually into our atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuel, and this has significantly raised earth’s average temperatures.

America will celebrate Earth Day for the 50th time on April 22, and we are well into the period of consequences. Finally, after much of the world has begun to take action, members of Congress have awakened to their responsibilities. H.R. 763 – the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 – has 27 legislative co-sponsors. Volunteers from Citizens Climate Lobby, the nonpartisan group to which we belong, have worked toward such a bill for 11 years.

The concept isn’t complicated. The bill will cut CO2 emissions more significantly and faster than any other. The largest CO2 emitters would be charged an annual fee that would rise gently; funds from that fee, except for a small administrative charge, would come back to U.S. households as a dividend. Naturally, carbon producers would realign technology to avoid fees. Eventually, as emissions fell to an acceptable level, fees would be phased out.

Climate experts say we’ll need to make other reasonable adaptations, such as adding electric vehicle charging stations to gas stations and putting solar panels on the rooftops of schools. But legislators need to make this bigger change now.

Good public policy helps officials choose options that provide positive outcomes for more people. It recognizes the need for tradeoffs and identifies challenging but realistic solutions. H.R. 763 meets these requirements: It will generate innovative jobs as America changes its habits, improves everyone’s health across the economic spectrum, pays for itself and will disappear when it’s no longer needed.

How can you help? Ask legislators to support it., even to become co-sponsors, and tell them you’ll have their backs on Election Day. Although co-sponsors come from across America, no N.C. or S.C. members of the U.S. House of Representatives have yet to openly support H.R. 763. A related bill will be introduced in the Senate, but no senators from the Carolinas have shown interest in it -- though Thom Tillis has acknowledged that climate change is a serious problem caused at least partly by human actions.

Nobody knows exactly when we’ll reach the tipping point, the year when we can’t undo the harm climate change is causing. But we know there will be a tipping point in this century. Like Britain taking on the Nazis, humanity faces a long fight that will require sustained effort. But just as ignoring Hitler would not have brought peace to Europe, ignoring climate change won’t make the world a happier place.

Submitted by
Allen Hubbard and Christy Kluesner
Retirees, Grandparents, and
Citizen Climate Lobby Volunteers


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