Commentary: Why care about global warming? – Alexandria Echo Press

By Bryan Van Gorp, Alexandria, MN

Why worry about global warming? You know all the symptoms, which are regularly broadcast on the news. Increasingly violent storms, floods, melting ice caps, wildfires, extreme heat events, droughts, rising sea levels, rising ocean temperatures and acidification. Only a fool would ignore nature’s warnings.

Heating leads to feedback loops such as: more heat absorbed as reflective ice is replaced by darker water, melting permafrost releasing more methane, desertification and fires releasing more carbon. All of this has human impacts. Increased migration/immigration caused by unpredictable availability of food and water, disease, crime and death are symptoms of ecosystem collapse.

Isn’t that liberal propaganda? Educate yourself by researching what the Pentagon, NASA and NOAA consider the top threats facing America. They are not liberal organizations.

So what are the solutions? There is no simple answer and it will not be painless. Yes, building renewable energy infrastructure will be good for the economy, create lots of good jobs and give us cleaner/cheaper energy. Yes, solving this problem will require us to work with our fellow citizens as well as with other countries, which could help create harmony and peace. It might even simplify and slow down our lives. Yes, it can help create a less consumerist/superficial culture where we all feel responsible for doing our part. An example of this spirit was rationing and sacrifice during World War II.

There will also be difficult parts. Maybe we should consume less, have a more local and plant-rich diet, garden, limit family size, leverage retirement savings to send a message, insulate our homes, switch to heating and more efficient appliances, driving smaller and more efficient/electric vehicles, investing in renewable energy, paying a higher price for certain things. We can start by engaging in good faith conversations about solutions and being honest about the situation we find ourselves in.

We need to tax fossil fuels at the point of extraction and refund the money to everyone equally. This will help reduce poverty, make renewable energy more competitive, and keep fossil fuels and associated pollution in the ground. This tax should be increased every year until we achieve the desired result. We can implement agricultural policies that link subsidies to maximizing carbon sequestration. We can label each product with the carbon footprint of manufacturing, packaging, transportation and disposal/recycling. This would allow consumers to make an informed choice.

If you’re interested in 100 more impactful solutions, read “Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever to reverse global warming.” Yes, I realize not everyone is totally doable, but most are.

Won’t all this be expensive? What is really expensive is doing nothing. Weather-related disasters currently cost the United States about $125 billion a year and are growing rapidly. We are currently wasting money subsidizing the wrong things. There is also the issue of illnesses and deaths caused by pollutants generated by fossil fuels. Aggressive action will be less costly in the long run than dithering.

Why does solving a problem scare some people more than the actual problem? Follow the money.

Teresa H. Sadler