BRUNSWICK — For over 50 years, we Americans have known that a climate crisis is heading our way. Like many other countries, we’ve done little to prevent it. We like easy fixes and quick results. Unfortunately, fixing this problem requires long-term planning, international collaboration, the development of new technology, the swift abandonment of our long-standing reliance on fossil fuels and a whole restructuring of our energy system. The situation is complicated further by those who have fed us false information or even continue to deny that a growing crisis exists.

There is the additional danger that after wishfully hoping the problem would not affect us personally, now that the danger is in our own backyards some Americans will go into defeat mode and decide it’s too late to act. Others may remain in denial that action is even needed. A third group cries out for partisan political action in the Congress that may have no realistic chance of passage in the Senate even after the 2020 election. And many of us may simply be preoccupied with the challenge of keeping our families safe and fed in a fast-changing world. None of this suggests that addressing the climate crisis will be easy.

But careful research and increasingly sophisticated scientific modeling inform us that there is still hope if we act quickly. The difference between the futures we will face with a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature versus a 2-degree rise is huge. So, as humans with the capacity to use our heads and our hearts to reduce the risks of climate change, it would be tragic if we didn’t do everything we can. There is no time to lose as feedback loops like open Arctic waters, melting permafrost and crippling drought from heat begin to click in, lessening our chances of success.

Hope for me lies in the reality that our forefathers gave us the tools to guide our country down a sensible path if we but use them. We live in a democracy where positive change from the bottom up is possible. The women’s movement and the civil rights movement showed us that. We can lobby, we can speak our mind in the press, we can build local support for bipartisan national action and we can learn about how to use the political process, just as the great social movements before us have. The one thing we mustn’t do is stick our heads in the sand and then sleep walk into the future.

We have a widely shared interest in wanting our children to live on a hospitable planet. Who would deny that preserving the web of life that supports us and our kids is something we all care about? I think this sense of responsibility to future generations is why people like me choose to get involved in Citizens’ Climate Lobby. This group is full of “idealistic realists” determined to help build the political will necessary to deal with the climate crisis. We simply can’t endure the possibility that this world full of life, beauty and diversity might slip away from future generations.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby members support what we believe is the first, best bipartisan measure to reduce the risks of a warming world. Called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (already introduced in the U.S. House as HR 763), it will be effective, good for people, good for the economy and revenue neutral. Scientists and economists in very large numbers support this bill because it will quickly reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions, while providing generous revenue to American households coping with the adjustment to a clean-energy economy. Its passage will encourage other countries that trade with us to take similar action, increasing the likelihood of further international progress on climate. More legislation may have to follow, Including measures that help us adapt to the warming already built into our atmosphere, but putting a fee on carbon and returning all of the proceeds to American households is an idea whose time has come.

Please tell Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins that when a companion bill to HR 763 is introduced in the Senate, their advocacy and support will be needed so that we can begin the long, urgently needed bipartisan journey back to relative climate safety.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.