Climate change awareness requires a voice

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We are in a moment in time with perhaps the most opportunity to improve the human race’s prospects for long-term survival on this planet. We have been burning up a seemingly endless supply of cheap energy in the form of fossilized organic matter. This stored carbon, however, is only available to us for a mere few centuries, and continuing to burn it will prove detrimental to the human species for millennia to come.

Luckily, we can act right now to speed up the transition to renewable energy fast enough to avoid catastrophe for those who are to inherit this earth. Every country around the world is working to decarbonize their energy sectors. The United States attempted this in the Obama Administration through the Clean Power Plan, regulating power plants to reduce emissions, but it was never implemented. Now a market-based approach that has been in the works for 12 years has finally been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act obligates fossil fuel producers to pay a fee based on the carbon dioxide that results from the combustion of the fuel. All the revenue generated goes back to American households as an equal monthly dividend. This will curb emissions by 40% in 12 years and 90% by 2050, keeping the United States in line with the rest of the world on a track to less than 2 degrees of warming. Plus, the dividend acts as a stimulus, with most Americans coming out ahead and spending the surplus to help create 2.1 million jobs in 10 years.

This bill’s path to passage depends on all of us coming together and pressuring our members of Congress. Volunteers of Citizens’ Climate Lobby have convinced 59 members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R.763 since its introduction in February. The top goal for us is to have U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, sign on as a bill co-sponsor. Please take one minute to ask this of him at 273-2227. You can leave a message.

Every call and every letter to our Congressman counts, but there are ways to be louder. As students, the most powerful statement of support that we can work toward is from NMU President Fritz Erickson. He has been briefed on the bill, and we see a path to his support. We need to make it clear to him that the student body is confident that a price on carbon is absolutely necessary for a livable planet.

Last semester a few of us approached ASNMU President Cody Mayer. He liked the merits of the bill and felt that it was a matter that the general assembly could discuss and possibly endorse.

The general assembly, however, needs to see much more student support for the bill before they will make a statement in support. With everyone’s help, that should be achievable. We need to hear from individuals who want to help.

You may not know what you can do, but we have plenty of work to do. We need to meet face-to-face with each representative of ASNMU and express to them the urgency of climate change.

Over time, representatives will come around to the overwhelming benefits of a price on carbon.

With enough endorsements from student organizations, department heads, professors and a referral from ASNMU, the faculty senate may take up the issue, and ultimately, Erickson. His endorsement is the one that will carry the most weight with our representative in Congress. We cannot get all this done with the small number of volunteers that we have.

That’s where you come in.

We are running out of time to act on the most important challenge that humanity has ever faced.

We each have the choice between two options: live life in a way that is comfortable, easy and full of instant gratification, or we can put ourselves out there and make a difference. The former will do nothing to ensure prosperity in our own futures, let alone generations to come. The latter will help to shift our species back on a sustainable course to live on this planet.

We meet at 8 p.m. on Mondays in 311 Harden Hall. Contact [email protected]