Our point of view: Climate: Legislation to have an impact on global warming | Editorials

We can all be grateful that the recently passed Cut Inflation Act will, experts say, significantly reduce the environmental carnage we have inflicted on Earth over the past four decades.

We can, however, be sobered by how long it took.

Scientists warned of the risk of global warming and climate change 34 summers ago in 1988, which turned into one of the greatest drought years in US history and became the hottest year on record.

But this record was quickly shattered. 1988 now ranks as the 28th hottest year. Arctic warming is now happening much faster than previously thought, according to a report by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The group reports that parts of the Arctic are warming four to seven times faster than the global average.

Wildfires over the past four decades have scorched an area as large as Texas. Some 308 natural disasters since 1988 have cost consumers, businesses and governments some $308 billion, according to an in-depth Associated Press report.

Thus, an investment of $375 billion to prevent the continuation of such disasters seems not only prudent but urgent. This is the amount the Inflation Act has for incentives to prevent more climate change. Incentives work better than regulations, experts say, so the bill’s climate provisions will make a significant difference.

Even Al Gore thinks so. “This legislation is a real game changer. It will create jobs, reduce costs, increase America’s competitiveness, reduce air pollution,” Gore told The Associated Press. The former senator and vice president held his first hearing on global warming 40 years ago.

“The momentum that will come from this legislation cannot be underestimated,” he said.

Others say it’s a market-based solution that incentivizes consumers to buy more green power and reduces household carbon emissions, businesses to develop products that don’t use fossil fuels and utilities to add more green energy.

There will likely be billions of dollars of private investment, says Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “That’s what’s going to be so transformative,” she told the AP.

While environmental advocates say they would like a bigger and better bill than the one passed by Congress last week, they agree it’s a good start and most agree it this is the largest investment ever made by a country.

The bill encourages crucial technologies such as battery storage, clean energy manufacturing, subsidies for electric cars and incentives to cool homes with things like rooftop solar and heat pumps.

Gore notes that the efforts could roll back the fossil fuel industry’s long and deceptive campaign to raise doubts about the damage of global warming. Unfortunately, it took the carnage unfolding before our eyes to convince us.

Passing the Cut Inflation Act will provide the best chance in recent history for consumers, businesses and government to act with their wallets to reduce global warming and stop the destruction of the planet.

We just have to follow up on those incentives.

Teresa H. Sadler