Sometimes it seems like certain politicians won’t support climate action until hell – or Texas – freezes over. Well, after last month, the climate threat is as clear as can be, and it’s time for Congress to act.

On Feb. 13, a winter storm began sweeping across the U.S. Within days, the frigid conditions and ensuing infrastructure challenges led to dozens of deaths, massive power outages and millions without clean water. Texas came within minutes of catastrophic failures that would have caused months-long blackouts.

Meanwhile, here in Bath, a group of about 45 people invited by The Neighborhood, a local church, have been meeting online to learn more about climate solutions. Guest speakers are presenting on heat pumps, energy efficiency incentives, solar options, what a computer simulation tool can teach us about best climate policies and how to make our communities more resilient in the face of a rapidly warming world.

What’s the connection to Texas? Climate change is coming home to roost in both places.

Texans knew it by looking out the window. Concerned Bath citizens know it from the many changes we see here in our own state. Climate scientist Jennifer Francis told reporters recently that “(T)he large, persistent, southward dip in the jet stream responsible for this cold invasion is likely to happen more frequently in a warming climate.” She notes that “warmer-than-normal spells” will happen more frequently, too.

Typically, a strong jet stream keeps Arctic air locked over the poles. But as we see more variability in our climate and Arctic air warms, the jet stream weakens, gets wavy and allows frigid air to dip down into lower latitudes. As this pattern persists, we will continue to deal with challenges like power outages and unsafe or limited drinking water — life-threatening conditions in the wake of extreme weather itself.


There’s plenty to be said about modernizing America’s power grid, improving battery storage and so on to be better prepared for future extreme temperatures. But the root challenge is the same: We’re feeling the impact of climate change here and now, and we’re running out of time to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the problem.

One of the most effective tools is an ambitious price on carbon that will speed up the transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy. A carbon tax can quickly slash our emissions and save lives. Plus, when designed right, it can actually pay people and benefit American business. Endorsements from the scientific community, businesses, economists and more show that this is the consensus solution.

A carbon tax as one of the best solutions to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently announced its support of a “market-based approach to accelerate emissions reductions.” In other words, a carbon price. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is a longtime supporter of this approach, advocating not just for a carbon tax but for revenue to be returned to Americans in cash.

One example of this approach is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a bill already introduced in the House. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is one of 86 co-sponsors of the legislation. We urge Sens. King and Collins, both members of the Senate’s Climate Solutions Caucus, to support the bill when it comes before the Senate.

The extreme weather ravaging our nation should serve as a warning that our climate could one day be unbearable if we fail to take the actions necessary to rein in climate change. An effective price on carbon with money given to households can put us on the path to preserving a livable world.

Sam Saltonstall is a volunteer with the Bath-Brunswick chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Mark Reynolds is its director.

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