In the past few weeks, a staggering volume of dire news about the climate crisis was published, much of it in The Buffalo News. Scientists concluded climate change significantly worsened the recent Midwest flooding, and heat waves in Japan, North America and Europe. An Antarctic ice sheet as big as Florida has become unstable; if it melts, it will raise sea levels by two feet, flooding the homes and businesses of millions. Record-setting heat in Greenland, too, has caused record-setting melting there, not only raising sea levels but also slowing the Gulf Stream, and could shut it down, sending Northern Europe into a deep-freeze.
One bit of good news came in June, when New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act; this legislation promises to reduce the state’s carbon emissions and provide jobs in clean energy.
Another positive development: More Americans than ever are aware of the crisis and the threats it poses. Yet, what can citizens do about a problem so vast? Drive smaller cars? Go vegan? Fly less? Recycle plastic?
If humanity had not increased atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) so much (currently 48% over pre-industrial levels), these personal and state-level actions might have averted disaster. Now, though, bigger and bolder changes are needed, nationally and internationally.
That’s why I support the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763 in the U.S. House). This bill will quickly and efficiently reduce GHG emissions. It has 59 cosponsors, the most of any carbon pricing bill ever. Concerned citizens should ask Reps. Chris Collins and Brian Higgins to support this bill.
It’s up to all of us, as citizens of a great democracy, to promote positive change, not only to avoid a hellish future but also to ensure clean air, health, jobs, and a livable world for all.
Andrew Hartley, Ph.D.