Climate change is real. There are those who would have you believe it’s not. In fact, an entire political party would have you believe it’s not. The science says otherwise -- over 90% of our scientific community agrees on this.
I served six years in the US Navy on a nuclear submarine. Most of that time was spent assessing the scientific viability of the nuclear components on that ship. I can tell you firsthand, when science hits you in the face with an inescapable fact, you need to believe that science.
Make no mistake about it, climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. But, as I’ve always said, the world’s greatest challenges create the world’s greatest opportunities. Together we can solve climate change. Together, we must solve it. We owe it to our children to fix our mistakes and leave our beautiful planet in better shape than we found it.
1. RECOMMIT TO THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to fighting climate change is that the problem is global. The sheer scale of it makes the task seem daunting. Every country on the planet has to be invested in curbing its own emissions and reducing inefficiencies in order for the collective effort to make positive changes to our environment.
The Paris Climate Accord is a groundbreaking and historic agreement that every industrialized country on the planet signed. Its goal is to help curb climate change and protect our environment. The United States is the only major country that has withdrawn. How can we be against this goal? It is imperative that we recommit to the Paris Climate Accord and retake our place as a global leader in the most significant challenge of our generation.
2. VIEW RENEWABLE ENERGY AS A VIABLE JOB CREATOR
Renewable energy is the future. The green energy industry employs almost as many people as the fossil fuel industry, and its rate of growth far exceeds that of fossil fuels. It’s imperative that we come up with a comprehensive plan at the federal level to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
We must incentivize the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds in our country to put their efforts into solving climate change. Right now, those incentives simply aren’t there. But, imagine a world where we had entrepreneurs all over our country, from the coasts to the midwest plains working to solve climate change by creating the next breakthrough renewable energy technology. Not only would this level of healthy competition make a solution that much more attainable, but we’d create thousands of high-paying jobs all over our country in the process.
The reality is that, as it stands now, fossil fuel industries are still large employers in our economy. As these industries are phased out, the federal government must provide economic assistance and job retraining to the hard-working Americans who will face job displacement. We can’t let the coal miners, pipeline welders, well workers and others be left behind as we look to the future.
3. INVEST IN RESEARCH AND SCIENCE THAT WILL LEAD TO SOLUTIONS
We must start with believing in the science that proves climate change is happening and is the result of human activity. The scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that climate change is caused by humans. Yet, we have an entire party of government that has become so focused on obtaining and growing power, that they willfully write off what they know to be true -- for the sole reason of appealing to their political base. Climate change must stop being seen as a partisan issue.
The current White House has scrubbed almost all mention of climate change from government websites and even issued guidance to the EPA limiting their ability to use certain terms related to climate change. That’s unacceptable.
There was a time when the federal government took a leading role in driving scientific progress that propelled forward not only the entire country, but also the world. It’s time we step into this role again and drive the research and breakthroughs needed to battle the effects of climate change.
We need a Manhattan Project — but for the environment. When we work together and pool the resources of our leading scientific thinkers, there’s nothing that we can’t achieve. Solving climate change will require groundbreaking new ideas. We need all hands on deck.
4. PREPARE OUR COMMUNITIES FOR THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Unfortunately, climate science tells us that much of the damage we’ve caused cannot be reversed. As such, we must accept and prepare for this reality. Cities like New York, Miami and others are already putting plans in place to safeguard their communities from the rising tides, extreme weather and the many other disastrous effects of climate change.
Our government must follow suit at the federal level. We have a duty to protect our citizens and we must plan for the future, rather than wait until it’s too late.
5. SHIFT SUBSIDIES FROM FOSSIL FUELS INTO RENEWABLE ENERGY
The fossil fuel industry receives $4.9 trillion in annual subsidies globally, and roughly $600 billion in the US alone . These fossil fuel subsidies make renewable energy uncompetitive. This, in turn, stifles the economic viability of these forward-thinking companies.
It’s simple, we must set up incentives and systems that reward companies actively trying to save our planet, not those profiting from destroying it. We need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and increase subsidies for companies that are promoting the proliferation of renewable energy and more efficient energy use in general.