by John Kondos, Clean Energy New Hampshire Monadnock Region Circuit Rider. Originally Published in The Monadnock Shopper News, Green Monadnock column, October 2023
Click on graph to enlarge.
Weather used to be something we talked casually about, concluding ‘if you don’t like it, just wait a bit’. That was true when the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide levels passed the safe level of 350 PPM (parts per million) in 1986 and still true in 2013 when we passed 400 PPM. Now at 421 PPM it is 50% higher than at the dawn of the industrial revolution when it had been around 280 PPM for thousands of years. Our wilder weather is from this thickening blanket of CO2 from our burning of more and more fossil fuels.
Years ago, our military called global warming a ‘threat multiplier’ as the impacts were increasingly getting worse around the globe. Warmer air and oceans fuel intense precipitation, longer heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods and rising sea levels. These contribute to inflation, food insecurity, mass migrations, famine, failed states, losses of lives, property and species. The science is clear and the evidence is mounting [jk1] but the overriding problems are greed, selfishness, apathy and resistance to change.
One reason many folks dismiss or ignore the threats is propaganda from the fossil fuel industry. The massive oil industry profits, including a $56 Bn record by Exxon-Mobil last year, buy a lot of fake news and politicians.
Now, the planet is getting hotter and the weather is becoming increasingly dangerous and expensive. In response to the rising risks, insurance companies are abandoning regions hardest hit and reducing coverages to avoid the rising costs.
We can still avoid the worst impacts, but we are running out of time. Dumping 10 billion tons per year of greenhouse gasses for free is a massive market failure. The most powerful solution is putting a price on the pollution causing this catastrophic problem.
A proper carbon price sends a clear market signal unleashing entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy and returns the money to every citizen. The Carbon Fee & Dividend proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org) places a fee on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, port of entry) and returns the money to US citizens as dividends. It is:
– effective cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half and creating over 2.8 million jobs;
– efficient puts money in every citizen’s hand and provides clear price signals for climate-smart investments;
– equitable- all of the money collected is returned to American households, about 2/3 break even or receive more in their dividend checks than they would pay in higher prices due to the fee, protecting the poor and middle class.
The Dividend is the key to making this something we can all embrace. By returning the funds collected to every citizen, we get to decide what to do with the dividends. We need to elect leaders who will reduce these risks and costs to us and from mounting for future generations.
We can also save money by not wasting energy (idling, lights on in empty rooms and leaky buildings). Upgrade to clean energy – community power provides that option to all of us in New Hampshire or – harvest free fuel from the sun. Heat pumps are much more efficient than combustion devices. Electric vehicles (EVs) are three times more efficient, cost much less to own and operate, in addition to being quieter, smoother and more fun to drive.
The CHOICE is up to us.
Weather that begins to get less volatile, dangerous and costly because we’ve reduced greenhouse gasses.
Weather that is scarier and creates more expensive disasters and disrupts and costs more lives.
Wishing and hoping it won’t affect you and toughing out the unpredictable and more intense weather is a risky choice. As sea levels rise from melting glaciers, millions of humans and other species living in low lying areas will be forced to migrate causing turmoil and suffering on a scale we are seeing previews of.
As the disasters from more severe weather pile up, we can still avoid the worst weather impacts by starting to seriously dial down greenhouse gasses.
John Kondos is a sun harvester and since 2006 has been working on solutions to the climate crisis with Home-Efficiency Resources, the Monadnock Sustainability Hub, Citizens Climate Lobby and Clean Energy NH.