Guest Opinion: Time to act on climate change

  • Wednesday, April 5, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

The recent opinion piece by Clallam County Republican Party member Donnie Hall (“Carbon tax, a bad idea whose time has not come,” Sequim Gazette, March 1, page A-11) reflects just how much the science of climate change is consciously ignored in favor of the status quo.

Where are the leaders that we followed to champion environmental protection? The whole world needs Republican and Democratic leaders to stand up, shake the fossil fuel industry off its back and work for us.

We don’t have to look far back to find examples, such as Teddy Roosevelt who set aside 230 million acres of land or George H.W. Bush, who expanded Clean Air Act protections and then created the U.S. Global Change Research Program to improve our understanding of global climate change.

Despite our current President’s false claims on climate change, we need leaders in our community to stick to the science and act in our best interest.

Donnie states: “The Democrats and their carbon tax want to tax the very carbon dioxide that we and the world of plants breathe.” In humans, the reality is carbon dioxide is a waste product and high levels of it actually trigger our respiratory system to inhale and replenish our bodies with oxygen.

The planet has a similar warning system and the evidence is that it’s too high. The world’s climate scientists agree and are urging us to act.

The scientific research also tells us that the oceans are dead center in the crosshairs and the impact will be immense. As a Diving Safety Officer, I’ve observed firsthand how changes in the ocean temperature and acidity are destroying corals, changing ocean currents and killing phytoplankton that provide half of the world’s oxygen.

A carbon tax creates a market signal for making better decisions. It gives businesses the incentive to innovate so they can produce less pollution while fueling competition.

We can protect communities from pollution, do our part against climate change, and usher in a new era of clean high paying jobs. Please read and consider the bill in our Legislature right now that lays out the road map. The Clean Energy Transition Act, HB 1646, is backed by a broad coalition of environmental, labor, health, business, faith and low-income advocates across the state.

It would add a cost for large polluters and invest the money into clean energy, forest protection and water projects across the state. It also would create a cash grant program to help low-income families manage their energy costs as we make the transition.

Moreover, at least 35 percent of the project investments made under the bill would benefit the places in our state most impacted by poverty and pollution.

Donnie also cited an example of “good” government involvement such as chlorofluorocarbon reductions in the 1970s. But let’s not forget that the same arguments we hear today against climate change were used to fight action on chlorofluorocarbons.

While President Trump continues to attack sound science, Washington can show how to effectively reduce pollution, grow new green industries and protect society’s most vulnerable.

Our future and our biosphere are calling on us to act boldly.

Gavin Wuttken is a Port Angeles resident and president of Around Again, a Clallam County nonprofit.

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