Dear Editor: “Climate change certainly isn’t ‘false news’” (Aug 17) offers plenty of science-based proof of that. I’d like to focus on the economics of our situation. Polls consistently show Americans overwhelmingly support our government doing something big about climate change. They just don’t want to pay for it.
Now they don’t have to. Solar and wind power now cost less than any fossil fuel and their prices drop substantially every year. Battery prices, too (forbes.com, lazard.com). If we scale them up nationally, they’ll be “effectively free” by 2030 (Financial Times, UBS, Aug 2018).
What’s keeping that from happening? Corporate greed and political corruption. This country’s biggest fossil fuel corporations give members of Congress tens of millions annually (opensecrets.org). In return, those members of Congress give fossil fuels tens of billions annually in totally unnecessary subsidies (oilchangeinternational.org), they deny climate science, and they block clean energy.
What we, the taxpayers and consumers, get is carbon pollution that kills over 200,000 Americans annually (MIT.edu) and costs us over $800 billion annually (forbes.com). And climate change disasters that have cost American taxpayers over $1.6 trillion so far, and are now regularly costing us hundreds of billions annually as global warming accelerates (NOAA.gov).
Without massive greenhouse gas emissions cuts starting now, future climate disasters will cost the U.S. economy over $160 trillion (Forbes, April 2019). Just a half-degree increase in global temperatures will cost the U.S. $13 trillion, and we’re already locked into at least a 1.5C increase and heading for a 3C to 4C increase (National Academy of Sciences).
A report in the Washington Post this month shows that global temperatures in areas of the U.S. have already reached average increases of 2C. That’s 80 years ahead of projections (NOAA.gov).
So, fossil fuels costing us trillions while literally killing us, versus clean energy that will be “essentially free” within a decade.
Add to that a new version of the “Green New Deal’s” energy plan that shows it will more than pay for itself, with two-thirds of the cost being paid by private enterprise (vox.com May 18, 2019).
Studies also show that a clean-energy economy will add $500 billion annually to U.S. GDP (IPCC) and create over 8 million high-wage, local, permanent (40-year) careers in the U.S. - over 35,000 of them in Oregon (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org, Google “50 states, 50 plans”).
It’s important we all make what individual changes in our lives we can to fight climate change. But the international scientific community has made it very clear that these actions will be virtually meaningless unless we also get at least close to net-zero emissions by 2030 (IPCC).
That’s why the most important thing any of us can do is to work to get a president and a Congress elected in 2020 that will get “Green New Deal”-scale emissions cuts started in January 2021. We’re already way behind schedule.
“The Green New Deal is affordable; the costs of inaction are incalculable.” —Forbes