Letter to the Editor: Even more hope for climate change

In her column on November 11, Catherine Buchaniec correctly states that after two years of political stagnation, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives provides hope that effective climate legislation can finally be written. She is also correct that, despite thoughtful actions at the state and local level, meaningful changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can only be made at the national level. This is because the best approach to reducing greenhouse gases, agreed upon by most economists, is to put a price on carbon emissions. This can only be done at the national level to prevent major corporate consumers from buying their energy from states with cheaper, dirtier means of production.

Climate change is no longer a looming threat. It is a crisis that is already here, as the victims of California wildfires and hurricanes in the Southeast can attest. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the predicted changes to the earth’s climate are happening faster than originally predicted. Rapid and dramatic changes to our energy usage patterns are required to slow down the rate of climate change. So why am I optimistic? Americans from all walks of life can come together in a crisis. We need to respond to climate change as the crisis that it is.

Climate change was not always a political issue. It shouldn’t be. A recent study from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that 70 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but that only 21 percent are “very worried” about it. Our roles as students, educators and concerned citizens is to bring this issue to the forefront so that more people write to their Senators and congresspeople about it, asking them to give it the legislative priority it deserves. When Republicans hear from their conservative constituents that climate change is a crisis that we must deal with, they’ll be more likely to listen. When climate change becomes a bipartisan issue again, meaningful legislation will be passed.

What can you do? Write to your Senators and Representatives and tell them that you consider Climate Change a crisis that must be faced immediately. Urge those in the House to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that is trying to bring this issue to the forefront. Join the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a non-partisan, non-profit group of people from both sides of the political aisle with the sole purpose of enacting federal legislation to put a price on carbon. As Al Gore keeps reminding us, “Political will is a renewable resource.”

Bill Muller
Professor of Pathology, Feinberg School of Medicine