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As I See It: We can act to improve climate change outlook

As I See It: We can act to improve climate change outlook

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"Public speaking" often tops the list when it comes to peoples’ worst fears. I, too, have dreaded public speaking but recently, I’ve been giving talks about climate change. What got me past my fear was that I finally see a solution to run-away climate change that could work, and I want everyone to know about it.

Here in the Willamette Valley, we have so far been buffered from some of the worst impacts of climate change. However, anyone who has been paying attention to the increasingly dire warnings coming from climate scientists or the rising levels of weather chaos worldwide should be getting worried.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — written by the world’s leading climate experts — is extraordinarily clear. The world already is seeing disastrous impacts from human-caused climate change, and these impacts will get much worse if we do not swiftly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Nobody on the planet will be untouched by the impacts of climate change, and if we do nothing, our very life-support systems will be at risk of collapse.

As a biologist and a mother who had grown increasingly pessimistic about our chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change, I learned of a proposal last year that I truly believe could get us on a path to climate stability in time for our children and their children to live without massive climate-related suffering.

The fact that such a plan exists is a near miracle. Due to the tremendous scale of the problem, our delay in taking action, the current state of U.S. politics, getting this plan enacted is certainly a moonshot. But it is not impossible; this is a nonpartisan proposal that has the support of leading conservatives, liberals, economists and climate scientists.

The plan is to enact a steadily rising fee on carbon-based fuels with all revenue returned equally to households. Most Americans would receive more back than they would pay in increased energy costs. This carbon fee would provide a rising incentive for investment in and use of clean energy, and a falling incentive for use of fossil fuels with markets picking the clean energy winners and losers.

There would be net job creation, and border tax adjustments would protect exporters. Within a decade, clean energy would become cheaper than fossil fuel energy.

One response I’ve gotten repeatedly after my talks is: it sounds like a great idea, but it’s impossible to get anything through Congress. To this I say, things can change.

Until now, the public discussion has been dominated by those fighting action, who have a lot of money. But we are beginning to feel the disastrous effects of climate change—flooding, droughts, heat waves and wildfires are increasing. Everyone wants to protect the world for our children. Also, never before have we had an economically advantageous, commonly agreed upon, nonpartisan solution to fight for.

Now we do. Democrats increasingly favor a carbon tax, and Republicans like the revenue-neutrality and the avoidance of more EPA regulation. Whether this proposal can be passed depends on all of us. It will be hard, but it is possible.

For Earth Day, I invite you to join me and become an active supporter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s proposal for a national carbon fee and dividend law.

Ask your members of Congress to introduce or sponsor a bill based on this proposal. Tell everyone you know about it. It is time to enact this sensible, economically beneficial, climate-safeguarding solution.

Carla Wise of Corvallis is a biologist, writer and the co-leader of the Corvallis Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. See for more information.


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