by Joseph Haloua**
I woke up at night from a nightmare of a dystopian future where the planet was engulfed in flames and desolation. A planet where few remnants of a formerly glorious specie were recording the last events humans would ever witness. As if writing the last paragraph of a history book no one would ever read.
I went to the kitchen for a glass of cold water. As I drank I comforted myself in recognizing that I had an apocalyptic vision, a common human theme over centuries. The year 1000 did come and pass. So did Y2k.
Reassured I went back to bed. The next morning the relentless stream of news revived my nightly sentiment: bird-less skies, oceans void of fish, depletion of natural resources. All scientific data pooled together seemed designed to cause mass anxiety.
What could I do? Separate my trash and recycle? Drive an electric car? Reduce my meat consumption? Not have children? Too late. I already have two children. And I have taken the aforementioned steps. I realized many people around me felt the same no matter what their party affiliation.
The evidence has become overwhelming and produces in individuals either paralysis or, worse, denial. Scientific models have only become more precise and are presently more forecast than distant predictions. The need for systemic large-scale changes is evident yet since the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries keep emitting more and more greenhouse gases making a mockery of the efforts any individual can endeavor.
Climate change is a clear and present danger. Yet it is a monster that we can slay through specific targeted control of carbon dioxide emissions from industries. Supporting the bipartisan solution of carbon fee and dividend is how individual citizens can scale up their responsible choices.
With a good bill before us in Congress–the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763—we can help ensure continued collective prosperity. This free-market solution will accompany industries in their necessary transformation to renewable energy without governmental overreach in prescribing ill-conceived solutions.
The proposed law, which has 68 co-sponsors in the House, sets a steadily rising fee on carbon production and gives the revenue collected directly back to each American household. It will reduce co2 emissions by at least 40 percent in the first 12 years and create jobs—2.1 million by one estimate—in the clean energy economy.
It encourages energy-intensive companies to transition from fossil fuels to renewables and protects citizens from the cost of that conversion. Literally thousands of economists support this bipartisan, revenue-neutral approach.
After all, some substitute technologies are still in the innovation pipes. Incentivizing industries to reduce their co2 emissions while giving the dividends back to every U.S. citizen to use as they see fit is a win-win solution that will win our future back.
Sustainable growth is within our grasp. Our resources are finite, our Earth is finite, our collective intelligence is infinite. Republicans, Democrats, Independents all want their children to prosper. We cannot solve all future issues but we can ensure the next generation will deal with the challenges of their time with confidence that their forefathers faced their existential threat with grace and determination.
Write or call your representative in Congress. Urge that person to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
**A resident of Pennsylvania Furnace, Joseph Haloua is a member of the State College Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.