This is what I want to share with Congressman LaMalfa
I live in Paradise surrounded by the remains of a community incinerated by an inferno that would have been inconceivable if even a portion of the normal 2018 fall rains had arrived on time. But because of climate change, the world has not seen a normal weather year for decades. NASA says global average temperatures have been above normal for the past 43 years. (2019 was recently ranked the 2nd hottest year on record). It will get hotter, and your constituents will be increasingly vulnerable to the kinds of tragedies that destroyed my town. Yet you essentially say don’t worry, that you know better than the experts.
With CO2 concentrations jumping about 40 percent just since the 1950s, temperatures have already surged about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, shifting global weather patterns, warming the oceans, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, raising sea levels and producing some of the worst heat waves and storms humans have ever experienced.
Escalating temperatures caused by our consumption of fossil fuels also is intensifying wildfires from Alaska to Australia. Ninety-three people burned to death in your district in 2018, 85 of them in my town, and tens of thousands were displaced. The 2018 federal climate assessment says human-caused climate change is responsible for half of all the acres burned in the West in recent years. Half. With this past February being the driest on record, we are all nervous about the coming fire season.
Like you, I’m not a climate scientist, so I learn from those who are. I read credible news accounts, books, summaries and conclusions of scientific papers, and reports from US and other government agencies. The more I learn, the more alarmed I become. Consider the 2018 US climate assessment (nca2018.globalchange.gov) that says that even if the world takes significant steps now to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is still likely to heat at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times within a few decades, double what we’ve already seen. If we do nothing — your position — temperatures could double again by century’s end.
I’m alarmed not only because we are courting disaster, but because there are people like you in power who refuse to consider the evidence or explain why you know better.
You imply climate science is wrong but fail to offer your reasoning. Do you have information saying CO2, and other gases do not react to sunlight and heat up? Do you have access to data indicating CO2 concentrations have not jumped at a rate and to a level unprecedented in human history? Have you found credible scientific analyses concluding we can continue burning almost 100 million barrels of oil daily, mountains of coal and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, with no ill effects on the climate?
If you do not, then please educate yourself. Maybe direct an open-minded, astute staff person to research the subject and help you understand the science. Here’s a good start:
1) US government’s “Fourth Climate Assessment,” particularly its summary findings and overview chapters and the sections relating directly to wildfire, snowpack and agriculture.
2) Summary of the 2019 “Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense.” Note that two-thirds of its operationally significant bases are threatened by climate change.
3) Summary for Policy Makers included in the October 2018 special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded we must act dramatically and now to avoid potentially devastating consequences.
These are but three of many assessments collectively reflecting the work of thousands of scientists and analysts. The wealth of reputable information is, effectively, irrefutable.
You are asking us to return you to Congress as our agent. I am asking you to take our concerns seriously. There is much the government can do to quickly lower emissions without harming the economy. An escalating carbon fee linked to a progressive rebate mechanism is a good start.
The terrible irony is no one in Congress will be around when the worst consequences of climate change materialize. Yet the actions you and your colleagues take today will affect the severity of those consequences. Please consider the many generations forced to live in a climate we are shaping today.