Maine Voices: Too hot to ignore – much more action is needed to fight climate change.
We need to immediately develop and implement an aggressive national, science-based climate plan, including a panel that evaluates and reports on our progress and recommends needed adjustments.
BY DAVID COSTELLO SPECIAL TO THE PRESS HERALD
August 17, 2023
With this summer’s unprecedented heat, wildfires and extreme storms, more Americans than ever before understand what scientists concluded decades ago: that climate change is real and that for many communities, farms, and businesses, it is a growing existential threat. And if we fail to move quickly enough to reduce global carbon emissions, the impacts of climate change on our environment and many of our planet’s inhabitants are likely to be devastating. According to the World Bank, more than 100 million additional people, for instance, are projected to become impoverished by 2030 because of global warming impacts on agriculture, food prices, income losses, adverse health impacts and population displacement – and up to 3 billion people are projected to experience chronic water scarcity, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Costello is a candidate for the 2024 Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. He lives in Brunswick.
President Biden, Gov. Mills and many state and federal legislators “get it” and are working diligently to address climate change. The Biden administration’s recent Inflation Reduction Act, bipartisan infrastructure law and enhanced greenhouse-gas emissions regulations, and the Mills administration’s corresponding “Maine Won’t Wait” climate plan and actions are helping
families, communities and corporations lower their consumption of increasingly expensive and dirty fossil fuels and aid in accelerating Maine’s and the nation’s transition to a healthier, more prosperous and resilient clean energy-fueled future.
However, to adequately tackle climate change, we need to do more – a lot more than we have done to date. Specifically, we need to employ stronger regulations and incentives to ensure that we come very close to zeroing out our greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, and we need to draw down significant amounts of carbon from our atmosphere for many, many years thereafter.
Additionally, we need to ensure that our communities, farms and businesses have effectively planned and prepared for the risks and costs associated with extreme weather, flooding, sea-level rise, wildfire and other detrimental impacts of climate change.
To accomplish this, we need to immediately develop and implement an aggressive national, science-based climate action plan. This ambitious and comprehensive plan would include, among other elements: initiatives to progressively price and limit greenhouse-gas emissions; substantial carbon sequestration and land conservation targets and actions; expanded clean energy, clean transportation and energy-efficiency goals and incentives; smarter, more sustainable development rules and land use regulations; greener appliance standards and building construction codes; markedly increased funding for extreme weather-resilient infrastructure, and
the establishment of an independent Climate Action Commission to regularly evaluate, grade and report on the status of our nation’s climate progress and recommend policy and program adjustments and additions when warranted. We must always bear in mind that actions that are effectively planned and objectively tracked and measured are more apt to succeed, and that politicians and elected legislatures and administration-led agencies are generally incapable of impartially assessing their own work and level of progress.
The cumulative results of such a plan and actions are likely to be extraordinary: millions of new, U.S.-based jobs in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, resilient infrastructure and sustainable agriculture and forestry; markedly cleaner air, land, and water; healthier, more prosperous and livable communities, and lower energy costs.
Now is the time to fully heed the advice of nearly all the world’s scientists and economists and redouble our efforts to combat climate change and capture the far-reaching economic, public health and environmental benefits that bolder climate action will surely deliver.