Since I’ve begun the journey of creating ‘The Global Cooling Project’ and ‘Revolution Earth’, I’ve had a few opportunities to bring my voice to Washington DC on behalf of climate action. Each time has been inspiring and eye-opening, though sometimes a bit frustrating as well.
I recently returned from a three-day conference in Washington DC with the Citizens Climate Lobby. The event will also be featured on the Emmy Award winning documentary series ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ (Executive Producer, James Cameron) on Showtime.
CCL is an environmental advocacy organization that has focused all of its Climate Cooling efforts into one singular mission: to create the political will for a livable planet through the passage of a bi-partisan carbon fee and dividend that returns all of its revenues back to the people.
In the current system (according to Oil Change International), fossil fuel companies receive approximately $37.5 billion annually in government subsidies, while even more costs are borne by the public, the government and the military through pollution to our air and our waterways that contribute to disease, early deaths, (seven million a year according to the World Health Organization) eco-system destruction, sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather and a very real threat to life on earth for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
This is a threat of epic proportions that only gets worse while we wait to move forward on appropriate solutions. Our dependence on these dirty fuels is literally destroying the livability of our planet. Meanwhile, the US has also exempted the fracking industry from clean water regulations, while allowing them to hide which chemicals they have been pumping deep into our earth, and into our aquifers.
One of the reasons that have been put forward for this continued support is that fossil fuels are simply cheaper than clean, renewable energy. Yet, if you factor in government subsidies, the costs of clean up, and the cost of directly related medical bills … $2 a gallon of gasoline at the pump is estimated to actually be costing the tax payer $12. And this doesn’t factor in the costs to our cities and homes as a result of sea level rise, or the loss of lives from heat stroke, droughts, floods, etc .. (the list is too long to even properly address in regards to climate change and loss of life).
So, this ‘magic bullet’ that CCL is proposing? A gradually increasing ‘carbon fee’ that is assessed at the source. Some argue that this would lead to an increase in the cost of goods for various dirty products that we are used to relying on. One of the benefits of this however, is that the public will be directly encouraged to choose products that are produced with clean, renewable energy as a result. By gradually bringing carbon producing products back to their true cost, we will begin to have a market system that reflects the cost of dirty energy and petroleum products in a way that is more honest and true, while encouraging innovation and the transformation to a truly sustainable economy.
But the wonderful news about CCL’s proposal is that the fees generated from this carbon assessment would actually be paid back to everyone living in the United States as a dividend. Thus many families (especially in the lower incomes) would actually see a financial benefit. According to a thorough study of the proposal by REMI, this one measure would help stimulate the economy and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy, while helping us quickly transition away from our current dirty, unhealthy and thoroughly unsustainable economy.
Yet several days ago, despite the desperate urging of Climate expert Bill McCibbin the democratic national committee failed to put a carbon fee on their platform.
We need to demand action. Republicans and democrats alike should be held accountable for the government’s role in subsidizing and placating the fossil fuel industries.
The facts are that we currently have the technologies. Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal energy, bio-fuels, ethanol, methanol … We can also be using our burgeoning landfills to create higher mixed alcohol fuel, which is what companies such as Bioroot Energy are doing. The list goes on. All of these can help us break free from fossil fuels forever and can be produced and massively increased now.
Our cars? In addition to the rise of electric vehicles, according to the documentary, ‘Pump’ by Josh Tickell, current engines can be easily run on bio-fuels. NOW. In fact the only reason they don’t is that car companies have programmed them to only accept fossil fuels. This, while we are staring extinction in the face due to our dependence on these same fuels. It is a fact that can only be explained by the power fossil fuel companies have had in our government. They have been permitted to monopolize our energy systems and it’s time to break up that monopoly for the protection of life on earth.
We have all the solutions we need, but what we need is the will. We need the education. We need the action. We need every citizen to choose a livable future and demand that the government does the same.
Please sign the petition below in support of a carbon fee, and to find out more details of the CCL plan.
Also .. If your house or apartment currently relies on dirty energy, please visit the Climate Store to convert to solar or wind and join the Clean Energy Revolution!