“Earth Just Experienced The Hottest June Ever Recorded – This marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking global temperatures.”
“The first six months of 2016 were the warmest half-year on record.”
“Global average temperatures in June (2016) were 0.9 degrees Celsius hotter than the average for the 20th century.”
I have been very concerned about climate change for a long time. Last year I joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national non-partisan, non-profit that advocates for national polices that will address climate change. There are 340 chapters nationwide, including our Monterey chapter. The organization is bottom up. By that I mean it first seeks local support and then carries its message (yours and mine) to Congress and the president. Our overall goals are to advance an innovative approach we are proposing to arrest climate change called Carbon Fee and Dividend. The program has been adopted in British Columbia and has been effective in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time bolstering their economy.
For more information, go to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website.
Climate change is perhaps one of the most serious environmental threats we will confront in this century. Climate researchers warn that global warming is occurring faster than in any time in the history of human civilization. What’s more, there’s an overwhelming consensus that human activities are the predominant cause of this anomalous warming. The emission of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels has dramatically altered the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, trapping heat and causing steadily higher global land and ocean temperatures. The science is well established and the physical evidence is all around us – dying forests, warming seas, drought and floods, mass die-offs of wildlife, conflagration, famine and conflict.
Climate scientists warn that if we don’t take measurable steps to curb greenhouse gases now, we have virtually no chance of keeping rising temperatures below an overall 2 °C warming goal – a widely accepted threshold that will indeed bring misery but is thought to be a future mankind can live with. Even so, meeting the target means that temperature rise will be substantially greater than that of the previous century (2.2°F/1.25°C temperature rise in the 21st Century verses 1.4 °F/.74 °C temperature rise in the 20th Century).
Scientists also worry that greenhouse gases left unchecked will cause the Earth’s climate to cross tipping points that will fundamentally destabilize earth systems and accelerate the warming. Once that happens, we will be in uncharted territory. What is known is that we will no longer live in a “Goldilocks” planet that made human civilization possible. Our children and their children will be witness to a world full of uncertainty, conflict, crop failures, and shortages. Elegant livings systems will unravel at a pace humans have never seen before.
Carbon Fee and Dividend is not an end-all solution. It’s not a panacea, but a critical step in the right direction. Research and development, conservation, public awareness, reforestation, etc. will continue to be critical. It can work in conjunction with cap and trade. Simply, CFD is an equitable and straightforward way to price carbon. And economists (mostly all) believe that pricing carbon is the only realistic way there is to get us to a green economy. Without the dividend component, however, the additional costs imposed on American households would be highly regressive and simply unjust. Fully 64% of California households will receive a net benefit via the dividend we are proposing. That percentage is substantially higher for minority, low-income, and elderly households.
As a progressive Democrat there’s a lot of stuff I care deeply about. But if our planet descends into an uninhabitable hell, all of those concerns will fall by the wayside. And it’s the poor who will be the hardest hit. Environmental justice and social justice are, after all, inextricably linked. Adaptation strategies will cost a lot of money – money that could be used to better education, healthcare, retraining, scientific research, transportation, income inequality, food insecurity and homelessness.
I also care deeply about the natural world. We might survive, but countless other sentient beings will not. The Age of Humans has already had a crushing impact on livings systems. Climate change will further simplify our world. We’re already seeing the wages of our abuse of the planet. Just 1.5 degrees of temperature rise has already caused havoc. What awaits us when the planet sees another 2-3 degree rise? I think it’s a mistake to downplay the impacts and take the “we’re resilient we’ll get by” (non) strategy.
So what can you do? CCL Monterey is appealing to you for your support. We are currently seeking the endorsements of local cities by way of signed resolutions. Cities like San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Modesto are already onboard. We hope to submit our resolution request to the City of Monterey in the near future. We are looking for residents who are supportive. We can’t do this without you!
If you care about this issue as I do, want to lend your support, join CCL, or have any questions or need more information, I’d be happy to engage further.
Frank Schiavone is a father and grandfather. He and his wife realized a lifelong dream moving to Monterey in 2013. He is an active environmentalist who cares deeply about protecting habitat for rare and endangered species and he has worked for 15 years with several environmental groups (writing grants, newspaper columns, comment letters, white papers and project plans). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.