With Every Breath
"Breathe in, breathe out" Mustafa Santiago Ali told the room of 1500+ Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) International Conference attendees. "With every breath you take, know that 9 out of 10 global citizens breathe polluted air. " Ali is a nationally recognized leader on both environmental justice and climate policy.
Mustafa reminded us that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and healthy food while showing slides that depicted the great inequities of our society. Far too many cannot safely breathe the air or drink the water that comes from their faucets.
Changing from toxic, air polluting fossil fuels, to clean, renewable energy sources will save lives.
According to the World Health Organization, "ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016. " (WHO) The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports that 2000-4000 deaths in 2013 in Minnesota can be attributed at least in part to fine particulates or ground-level ozone. Furthermore the MPCA reports that the groups most impacted include those living in poverty, those without health insurance, the elderly, and those with asthma or other heart/lung diseases. (MPCA) The forest fires in Canada and the Western U.S are also contributing to poor air quality days in Minnesota.
The heat trapping gases released when we burn fossil fuels have increased both the frequency and duration of heat killing weather.
Parts of India are currently being abandoned due to excessive 120+ degree Fahrenheit heat and drought that has already claimed at least 36 lives. Here in Minnesota, without major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 the IPCC predicts a 4-5 degree Fahrenheit increase in average temperatures, and 5 to 15 more excessive heat days each summer.
These and other impacts such as floods, extreme storms, rising seas, and ocean acidification have created a planetary emergency that must be addressed with meaningful action now! The Pope recently declared a global climate emergency and warned that that a failure to act urgently to reduce greenhouse gases would be “a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations." (Guardian)
What gives me hope?
Youth like Greta Thunberg of Sweden give me hope! Greta started a global movement of school strikes on Fridays for climate. Greta has had audiences with the Pope and the UK Parliament. She is calling for adults to join her in a global strike for climate on Sept. 20th.
Youth like Piper Christian of Utah give me hope. Piper worked with CCL and others from her high school with unrelenting persistence until the conservative Utah legislature passed a resolution calling for action on climate change.
Working on solutions also gives me hope. The DFL Environmental Caucus supports Carbon Fee and Dividend. We now have such a bill before Congress, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, or HR763. This bill gives me hope because it is effective, good for people, good for the economy, bipartisan, and revenue neutral. It puts a steadily rising fee on carbon at the point of entry into the economy and returns the revenue generated to households.
Every household gets the same dividend regardless of income.
Around ⅔ of households come out even or better in terms of income.
Those in the lowest impact bracket fare the best
It is NOT a regressive tax.
It does not grow government
It allows the free market to pick the winners and losers
It goes further towards helping us meet our emission reduction goals than any other plan out there with a 90% reduction by 2050.
This is why I endorse this plan and why my Republican CCL friends also endorse this plan.
The bill currently has 47 cosponsors including Representative Angie Craig of CD2 and Representative Dean Phillips of CD3. 19 of the cosponsors have also signed on to the Green New Deal. Read more at https://energyinnovationact.org/
Breathe in and breathe out
Be thankful for our beautiful planet with all its wonders and mysteries. Envision a world where every citizen has clean air, clean water and healthy food. Now stand up, make your voice heard, and work for a just future for all.