The facts about climate change can seem overwhelming and even discouraging. We see severe storms, droughts and record temperatures on the news more frequently. 2014 was the warmest year on record for the earth and its oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since the 1800’s, scientists have warned of the “greenhouse effect” caused by excess levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of CO2 was 150 parts per million (ppm); today it is 400 ppm.
But there is good news! A grassroots organization called Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) gives individuals a voice as advocates for addressing climate change. I recently signed up with CCL and am impressed with the in-depth knowledge they provide to citizens who are concerned about climate change. After listening to an introductory phone call, I was able to connect with local members and learn about opportunities for advocacy.
CCL advocates a carbon fee and dividend plan, which is a market-based approach to dealing with CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. The fee would help provide a truer picture of the costs of carbon-based fuels, and encourage the use of solar power and other non-carbon energy sources. Simply put, companies would pay a fee on the amount of carbon in fossil fuels, and the fees would be given back to households. Countries that do not have a carbon fee plan would face import fees, and American industries that export to these countries would receive rebates.
According to a study by Regional Economic Models, Inc., the carbon fee and dividend could reduce CO2 emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels in 20 years. Air quality improvements could prevent over 200,000 premature deaths in 20 years. The study also found that the dividend would stimulate the US economy and help produce 2.8 million jobs in 20 years.
Yes, there is cause for concern, and yes, the forecasts are dire. But once again, the voices of ordinary citizens add up to a force for meaningful, positive change. If you are looking for a way to connect with like-minded people and add your voice to finding real solutions to climate change, CCL is a great place to start.