This was written by Gina Robinson Ungar:
When my my seven-year-old son and I returned from the People’s Climate March in New York City last week, we both thought it would be good to share our reasons for going, and what the challenge of climate change means for us here in Southwest Indiana. Four adults and two young boys from our area made the trip to Bloomington, Indiana. We rode an all-night bus directly to the march, joining 300,000-plus others in asking political leaders in Washington DC, the United Nations, and elsewhere to take bold and effective steps to stop the disaster that is climate change.
Our region in Southwest Indiana has some special challenges when it comes to thinking about climate change. Some folks don’t believe it is real, or think it is out of our hands, or part of a natural, and therefore acceptable pattern. But it isn’t. We humans have made these changes happen, just as surely as we have cut down forests and built up cities and invented Twinkies. We do things, and there are results. That is how the world works. It is not all bad — we do have some powerful tools that can repair the damage that has been done, and we need not lose all of the great modern luxuries that we enjoy.
Sometimes I play a game with myself: would I give up, say, hot showers, if it meant everyone else in the world could have a warm, clean bed to sleep in? Could I give up chocolate forever if every child on Earth could be well-fed? Could I drive to the city only once a week if it meant the polar bears would survive? We know exactly what the right answer to these questions is, but when the chocolate is right in front of us, it is so very hard to do the right thing. That is why the libertarian argument of extremely limited government falls down in the case of climate change. We really do need laws and enforcing agencies to turn this mess around. As a student of one of my fellow travelers once said, “I wouldn’t clean my room if my mom didn’t make me do it.”
One of the most powerful and painless solutions that puts a “mom in charge” is the Carbon Fee and Dividend law, a very simple system worked out by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. It taxes pollution right at the source (raising prices) but returns 100 percent of that money to American households to enable them to afford the increased cost. Each year, the carbon fees on polluters are increased a bit, forcing them to become more and more efficient, while the money continues to be returned monthly to households on a per-person basis. Within 10 years, clean energy and pollution-generated energy will have the same price tag, and it will be easy to do the right thing, no spankings needed.
Furthermore, the projected effects of this law would not only be to cut carbon emissions by one-third by 2025, but 13,000 premature deaths would be avoided and the country would see an increase of 2.1 million jobs. Yes, even here, we would see job increases.
I know losing coal jobs will hurt, and I am not pretending to ignore that pain. But some of it has to stay in the ground, or this planet is not a place you would wish to leave your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is a hard choice, but it will be gradual, and if we, the American people, have the sense to demand it, those jobs will be replaced by a great resurgence of manufacturing and construction jobs as we vastly improve our public transportation options and our clean energy generation and storage capacity.
So please, please contact your members of Congress and let them know that you think Carbon Fee and Dividend is a good idea.
Farmers, you can become super heroes in this fight if you start exploring the carbon-sequestering methods of long-term crop rotation with pulsed grazing and mixed livestock, first studied by Allan Savory and entertainingly described in the many books of Joel Salatin, plus my new favorite, Cows Save the Planet: and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring the Soil and Healing the Earth, by Judith D. Schwartz.
Everyone has an important part to play in this enormous challenge to our whole world’s health and safety. Let’s do it together.