Our overheating world is causing widespread destruction and threatens human lives. In December alone, three record-breaking weather events caused enormous, unaffordable damage.
• A barrage of 69 tornadoes swept through eight southern states Dec. 10-11, resulting in at least 90 deaths.
• On Dec. 15, a cyclone spawned 100 tornadoes that tore up 11 Central and North-Central states.
• On Dec. 30, 100 mph winds propelled a fire through Colorado neighborhoods, destroying 1,084 homes, an all-time record for a winter fire.
It’s time to get serious about stopping the temperature rise. In an overheating world, ruinous weather events will get worse, more frequent and more costly. Here and abroad, much is already being done to address the threat, but we’re late getting started and still doing too little to stop it or even slow it down.
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Your help is needed. Start with two things. First, discuss (but don’t argue about) the threat with friends and relatives
More people need to understand its cause, its danger and how to stop it. Learn more about that at NASA’s webpage (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). It has information on six climate change topics,
Understand that the latest research shows human activities have caused just about all of the temperature rise (Yes, other forces raise the global temperature, but also sometimes lower it. Those changes have offset each other).
We are now the only significant cause of the rising temperature. And that’s fortunate! It means we can stop the overheating by stopping the emission of the heat-trapping gasses that cause it.
Doing that is hard and complicated. But we can do it if we all — along with the people and governments of other countries — work together using the strategies and tools we already have and those we will create. This is the greatest threat our generation faces.
To make a difference needs our total awareness and involvement. Stopping the temperature rise will cost us far less over time than the rising temperature and the dangerous weather events it causes or intensifies.
Second, write to your legislators, your governor and especially President Joe Biden. Stress that stopping this growing threat matters to you. Ask them to help.
President Biden aims to restore climate regulations that his predecessor rolled back. His Build Back Better bill’s climate provisions would add to those in his American Jobs bill, but it’s not enough to stop the rising heat and growing destruction.
Suggest that an annually rising carbon tax with the proceeds divided equally among all Americans would be an important addition or independent bill. More than 3,600 economists, including 28 Nobel laureates and 19 who served at the highest levels of federal government under administrations of both parties, have signed a document stating that such a tax would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.”
It’s the largest public statement of economists ever. Americans with less money benefit most, since the distributed money would make up a larger part of their income.
A net-zero economy is necessary to stop the overheating. To get there, selling the carbon fuel that causes the temperature to rise must stop. An annually increasing carbon tax would gradually accomplish that if it grew large enough.
Carbon fuel sellers would try to raise prices to offset the tax. That would encourage the public to find ways to use less carbon fuel and retain more of the taxed profits being distributed to them.
As the tax is gradually raised, the money distributed would increase. No regulations would be required; once set up, the public would decide for themselves whether, as the price went up, to stop buying carbon-based fuel or continue.
Biden’s present efforts are not a complete solution, nor is a carbon tax. In addition to pushing the government to act, we all can help by revising our own practices.
You and I must be part of the solution, as well as the governments and people of the world. The following website offers some good suggestions: www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming. You can also join groups that are using various methods to address the threat.
Our various situations and abilities may shape what help we can give, but please do what you can. Don’t be a bystander; get involved. The need is urgent.
John Ward lives in Gainesville.
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This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: John Ward: Don’t be a bystander in climate change fight