By MSH Board Member, John Kondos.
Originally Published in The Monadnock Shopper News, Green Monadnock column, August 2021.
For decades scientists have warned of the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide along with other gasses like methane that trap heat, called greenhouse gasses (GHGs). Numbers don’t lie. For tens of thousands of years carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere averaged 280 PPM. Since the 1950’s the levels have risen at an increasingly rapid rate, passing the ‘safe’ level of 350 PPM in 1988 and hitting another peak this year of 419 PPM in May! There is no other possible explanation for this than the dramatic increase in cars, ships, planes, power plants, etc. burning fossil fuels.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is Code Red for Humanity stating “It is unequivocal
that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere,
ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” A declaration signed by over 11,000 scientists this month raised their November, 2019 alert levels, by warning we may be reaching tipping points where warming accelerates out of control, our priority must be “immediate and drastic reductions in GHGs especially methane” as reported in BioScience magazine.
Meanwhile, the increasing losses of glacial and Arctic Sea ice, devastating floods and fires are too subtle or distant to cause alarm especially when the fossil fuel industry has been sowing doubts and buying politicians so skillfully.
At 419 PPM it’s no surprise that average temperatures keep getting warmer and the effects from droughts to severe storms are being seen closer to home. We are playing Carbon Roulette- where does the next disaster strike? Recently, it’s been the Church St neighborhood in Keene, Alstead and Jaffrey where this July brought over four times the average rainfall. The stakes rise as long as we keep clogging the atmosphere with more GHGs. From 1980- 2015 the USA averaged five (5) weather disasters a year costing over $1 Billion, last year we hit another new high at twenty-two (22) events costing us over $1BN!
The worst burdens of this man-made crisis fall on future generations because today’s GHGs last for decades. Since 2015, our government has fought the premise that government actions that cause climate change have violated children’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and failed to protect essential public trust resources in the Juliana v. United States case. In Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court recently ruled that the 2019 National climate law was inadequate because it risked forcing future generations to “engage in radical abstinence” by leaving too much of the burden to the years after 2030. This was before extreme flooding destroyed swaths of countryside in parts of Germany in July.
When will the fact that we’re endangering ourselves and increasing the risks for children and countless species get us to act? How long will we elect leaders who prefer today’s profits over children’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a stable world?
Thankfully, many concerned grandparents and parents are not only reducing their dependence on dirty fuels but writing and calling on our leaders to put a price on the pollution that is making the world more dangerous and expensive. They realize that individual actions are no longer adequate because we’ve delayed so long. The longer we delay the harder and more expensive the transition will be.
Over 36 NH communities including several in our area have voted to support the ‘Carbon Cash-Back’ solution. The most cost-effective way to reduce pollution is to put a price on it, and the most equitable thing to do with the money collected is to compensate the people being harmed by the pollution. The Carbon Cash-Back solution charges fossil fuel producers and importers a steadily increasing pollution fee and gives all the money collected to all families equally. This market-based approach protects family budgets, does not grow government, and is supported by members of both parties. This corrects the market failure of dumping greenhouse gasses into our air for free. By taxing what we burn not what we earn, we’ll unleash American entrepreneurs to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy.
The window to not exceeding 1.5 degrees C is rapidly closing. Please support US House Bill 2307, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, it puts money in every household budget and brings greenhouse gas emissions down 90 percent by 2050.
Learn more about Carbon Cash-Back and other climate change solutions here.
John Kondos is a founder of the Monadnock Sustainability Network, Home-Efficiency Resources and the Monadnock Chapter of Citizen Climate Lobby. He started his career in the renewable energy industry in the late 1970s with the goal of making a practical contribution to reducing our dependence on finite fossil fuels. He began at the contractor level and went on to work at a crystalline and later at a thin-film PV manufacturer.
John returned to solar in 2007 after a number of years in other industries. He has installed PV systems on three continents and solar water heaters in MA, NH and VT. John has a Masters in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA from Fairfield University. He is committed to working on solutions to our greatest challenge – climate change caused by fossil fuel combustion – through energy conservation, renewable energy and land stewardship.
Photo by Markus Spiske