Coronavirus is the current headline and scare. Yet fewer than 4,000 have died worldwide. Heat waves also cause death. For instance, 52,000 Europeans died by heatstroke during the European heat wave of 2003, at a rate of 2,000 people a day during the peak of the heat.

Climate change is causing an increased frequency of heat waves. Together with wildfires, floods and increased storm intensity, they are climate-related, death-causing problems that we are coming to see as the new normal. All are related to CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The president requested $2.5 billion for the efforts to prepare the U.S. for a possible coronavirus outbreak. To put things in perspective, climate-related floods, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires cost taxpayers $306 billion in 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. military is just as concerned.

We need protection from the climate change disasters exacerbated by increasing CO2 emissions. The U.S. should take the lead, with the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, now being considered in the House. It would effectively incentivize a switch to alternative energy sources throughout the economy by imposing a steadily rising price on fossil fuels, returning funds as a monthly climate-security check to all households. A border adjustment would involve the rest of the world.

Both the House and Senate need to consider, then pass, this bill, and the president sign it, acknowledging climate change as a threat larger and longer-lasting than coronavirus.

Peter Garrett


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