Guest opinion: Creating the will to fight climate change
Mr. Trump has appointed a Cabinet packed with deniers of the undeniable: the massive human component of the climate crisis.
Mr. Tillerson, Mr. Pruitt and Mr. Perry, not to mention Mr. Trump himself, are poster children for the “climate change is a hoax” crowd. These climate deniers all have a large financial stake in the expansion of the fossil fuel economy, especially Mr. Tillerson, who in 2011 reached a potential trillion-dollar deal with Russia, a deal now on hold because of sanctions. They are joined by politicians at all levels from fossil fuel states and by most Republican officials.
In Colorado, Sen. Gardner has been a panelist and moderator at the secret, semi-annual Koch Enterprises sponsored meetings of the ultra-rich. He and Congressman Tipton chant the “All of the above” energy mantra while favoring fossil fuels with their votes.
Members of the state house split along partisan lines with Energy and Environment Chairman Ray Scott of Mesa County and our own Randy Baumgardner being outspoken climate deniers and fossil fuelers.
Locally, county commissioners and municipal leaders fund the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, a de facto oil and gas lobbying group. (The state government also supports this group, which is “assisted” by the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that has written legislation for multiple states.)
Over the last 10 years, more than 99 percent of climate research papers published in reputable scientific journals recognize dangerous climate change resulting from human activities. The consensus is that climate change is occurring and we have the tools now to reverse it. The emissions protocols of the Paris Agreement are insufficient to keep the global average temperatures below safe levels. Because of tipping points in the climate system, the window to intervene is closing rapidly.
Polling shows that some 60 percent to 70 percent of Coloradans and Americans support the concept of human input to climate change. Our leaders pursue half-measures or worse in the climate change fight because dollars from fossil fuels support them politically; because fossil fuels are important to the current economy; because they believe ideology over evidence; or because willful ignorance pads their personal bank accounts. This at the expense of causing an unlivable world (not so) far down the road.
This is not aimed at hard-core climate deniers, who in my experience are immune to reason. It is instead meant to stimulate the two-thirds of Americans noted above. They must update their understanding of climate change issues and engage or re-engage in the political process:
• Teenagers and 20-somethings: You and your children will face severe challenges should you not act now to limit the damage from climate change. You are the best hope to create the necessary political will.
• Middle-class, middle-aged higher earners: You will pay less now to prevent climate change than you will pay in the future to mitigate it.
• Boomers: You are safe from the worst aspects of climate change. Not so your grandchildren. How will they remember your efforts?
Educate yourselves: NOAA and NASA websites are excellent sources of current science; Janet Mayer’s “Dark Money” explores in detail the outsized effect of the Koch brothers on our politics. Bombard your representatives and the media with phone calls and letters on a regular basis. Most of all, don’t fail to register, and then be sure to vote for your futures.
Make America think again.
David Schroeder of New Castle is a retired doctor and West Point graduate.
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