The following post is from Ashley Haugo, Legislative and Policy Aide for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Recently, the American Meteorological Society updated its 2007 statement on climate change, now avowing that there is “unequivocal evidence” of earth’s warming, and that since the 1950s, the “dominant cause” of this warming has been human activities. In light of the controversial climate debate that has been revived in all its fervor by recent extreme weather events, this firm statement by AMS reminds us of the dire situation—and responsibility— that lies in front of us all.
Within the United States alone, the temperature is up an average of two degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years with the frightening possibility of reaching an increase between 7 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Such increases in temperature would result in realities that are, as of yet, hardly fathomable. The scorching droughts, raging wildfires and sudden deluges of this summer would pale in comparison to what could occur in a significantly warmer world.
But unfortunately, we can’t throw our hands up and blame the fickleness of Mother Nature. By unequivocally stating that humans have played a dominate role in ushering in this reality, it becomes our duty to play a dominate role in reversing the current trends. The only way to do this is to adopt and implement stringent mitigation policies that will significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions—particularly carbon dioxide. And we need to do it now.
Last week, the White House finalized cleaner car standards that will increase fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025. Achieving this would nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks on the road today and cut carbon emissions per vehicle mile traveled nearly in half.
And coming up, there is the opportunity to renew the Production Tax Credit, a 2.2-cent per kilowatt hour tax incentive for wind energy which is currently set to expire at the end of the year. With this, wind-supported jobs would jump to 95,000 by 2016 and 49 gigawatts of new wind installation would bring total offset CO2 emissions to 490 million tons. Without it, we stand to lose 37,000 jobs and the progress we’ve made in the wind industry.
These are only two examples of small but significant steps that can be taken to ease us off the climate cliff on which we currently teeter. And, thankfully, we live in an innovative age in which there are a plethora of options to do so . . . we just need to recognize that inaction is not one of those options.