A New York Times “work of history,” “Losing Earth: The Decade we almost stopped Climate Change,” by Nathaniel Rich, talks about the decade from 1979–1989 when the science of climate change was understood: The summer of 1988 was a signal of the disastrous weather events that would become more frequent; countries came together repeatedly with the purpose of lowering carbon emissions and they failed.

We learn that a popular 1958s television series, “The Bell Science Hour,” aired a film that stated that mankind was unwittingly changing the earth’s climate by increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The film predicted the polar ice caps would melt and tourists would be looking at the remains of Miami through glass bottom boats. The film was shown in science classes for decades.

People knew there was a problem and they expected their leaders to come up with a solution. Republicans and Democrats understood it was a nonpartisan issue that threatened the existence of mankind. You will need to read the piece to come to your own conclusion as to why efforts failed.

Thirty years later, we are in a worse place for solving this existential problem. Forty-two percent of Republicans do not know that “most scientists believe global warming is occurring.” That number is falling. Our current government is rolling back every effort to lower carbon emissions.

In “Losing Earth,” we are told that a professor of climate science asks his new graduate students a trick question every year. What is the most important breakthrough in climate physics since 1979. The answer is none. The science has been settled. There are only refinements.

Predictions made in the 1970s have only happened faster. The summer of 2018 is the summer of 1988 on steroids.


“Losing Earth” questioned whether mankind is capable of solving a long-term existential problem when our political leaders are elected for short terms and we would have to sacrifice (i.e. change our energy source) now for the benefit of future generations.

Although the article didn’t delve into solutions, carbon tax was mentioned several times.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, the fate of the earth is literally in our hands. Scientists think there is still time to prevent catastrophe if we act now to drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions.

A majority of economists agree that the most efficient and cost effective way of lowering carbon emissions is to put a price on carbon. A carbon tax could anchor a global, enforceable climate agreement.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Climate Leadership Council have similar plans that would put a tax or fee on carbon at the source of fuel entering the economy and give back the revenue in the form of a dividend to all American households. Consumers faced with higher prices of carbon intensive goods would buy less and investors would move money into renewable energy.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is nonpartisan. It has eight chapters in Maine and one in Bath-Brunswick which meets on the second Wednesday of every month at Curtis Memorial Library at 6 p.m. Our one goal is to pass a revenue-neutral, national carbon fee and dividend. Our plan would reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent in 20 years. Check out the website: Citizensclimatelobby.org. Join us. Be part of the solution.

In the meantime write your members of Congress: Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, Rep. Bruce Poliquin or Rep. Chellie Pingree and tell them, we elected them to make hard decisions, time is running out to save the earth. We need a national price on carbon and a global enforceable climate agreement.

Dodie Jones is the co-leader of the Bath- Brunswick for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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