Diane Miller: Climate change is a bridge issue
Last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stern warning to the world: immediate action is needed to protect coastal cities, coral reefs, thousands of plant and animal species and hundreds of thousands of human lives.
Last week the federal government sounded a similar alarm with more details on the impacts of climate change on our nation, states and local communities. Eleanor Hasenbeck’s Nov. 27 article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today outlines how climate change is already impacting the Yampa Valley.
Despite these dire reports and the recent devastation of storms, wildfires and drought, many individuals and politicians, from the local level to the president, continue to ignore or discount calls for climate action.
Once upon a time there was bipartisan support for climate action. In the 1980s, Republican Senators Chafee, Stafford and Durenberger were among those calling for immediate climate action.
Conservatives proposed market-based approaches such as tax incentives and cap and trade to curb carbon emissions. President George H. W. Bush’s EPA Administrator William Reilly once stated, “I have to question how a candidate for national office can deny that the climate is changing and be taken seriously.”
What happened to change conservative thinking about the climate? In a 2007 interview, the late Senator John McCain stated that “special interests … the utility companies and the petroleum companies” are what have blocked progress on climate change. In his recent book, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, states that his Republican peers cite political bullying from the fossil fuel industry as the major roadblock to climate action.
Our world and all of its current and future inhabitants — my children, your children, our grandchildren and generations to come — are being held hostage by corporate greed and the willful ignorance of politicians who are financially beholden to the fossil fuel industry. How many record-breaking “natural” disasters will Americans face before we wake up and demand that our elected officials lead our community, our state, our country and the world to a safer climate and future?
Climate change affects all of us and should be a bridge issue, not a wedge that drives us further apart. As citizens, we should demand that elected officials from all political backgrounds set their differences aside and take action to protect our planet and future generations from the worst impacts of a warming climate.
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