While I was loving the unseasonably mild temps last month, I was also uneasy. Is this another sign of climate change? 2016 was the warmest year on record, and 2017 is on track to beat it. More frequent and deadly storms and wildfires seem to confirm the predictions that climate scientists have been making for decades.
Now the Government Accounting Office has released a study estimating the financial costs of climate change. These costs include: infrastructure damage from rising sea levels on the coasts; recovery from extreme weather events and wildfires; higher energy costs in the Southwest; more heat-related deaths in the Southeast; lower shellfish harvests in the Northwest, and the list goes on.
The GAO estimates a price tag of — hold on to your hat — $500 billion just in this decade, and trillions more in the future.
Politics in Washington usually looks like a complete dumpster fire, but we don't have to feel helpless. There are many solutions being proposed, including one called Carbon Fee and Dividend. This puts a rising fee on all greenhouse-gas-emitting fuels, but returns the fee in equal shares to all households. The idea is to stimulate the economy by returning fees to individuals, while incentivizing individuals and businesses to seek "greener" fuels.
We can all ask our congresspersons to support Carbon Fee and Dividend (learn more at citizensclimatelobby.org) or a similar proposal. It's time to price carbon to reflect the true costs of burning fossil fuels. Tell Washington to take more urgent action to avoid the astounding costs of continuing climate apathy.