The great Minnesota get together is over. Families are reminiscing about their summer vacations. Students returned to schools. The Minnesota Vikings have begun their quest to end a four-decade Super Bowl drought. Minnesotans will start turning our attention to fall recreational activities and voters will start paying attention to the 2018 elections and candidates’ positions on the issues.
This year there are many meaningful topics for the media and moderators to choose from as they engage those who want to represent us. The economy, immigration, health care, taxes, gun rights and campaign finance reform are just a few. The one topic that impacts every Minnesotan now and for decades to come is climate change and we deserve to know where candidates stand on climate change solutions.
In late 2017 the Trump administration released the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA is the authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States. The NCA is 477 pages and can be summarized this way: Climate change is happening today, humans are the cause, scientists agree, the window to avoid the worst consequences is rapidly closing, the risks are very large and the time to act is now.
Connect the dots
One doesn’t have to read the NCA or even trust her assessment. We just need to connect the dots to our changing climate and how it exasperates what we are seeing in the news every day.
- A combination of warmer water and nitrogen runoff from farms has produced the worst “red tide” ever seen in Florida. Manatees, sea turtles and millions of pounds of dead fish have washed up on beaches and negatively impacted the multimillion-dollar tourism industry.
- Hundreds of deaths around the world have been attributed to record-setting heat waves in places like Japan, where 119 people died, and thousands were hospitalized.
- Oman set the world’s hottest low temperature ever recorded of 109 degrees F
- Triple-digit temperatures in California created conditions for the worst wildfires the state has ever experienced. In Redding, Calif., those conditions produced a fire tornado with wind speeds up to 165 mph and temperatures that likely exceeded 2,700 degrees.
- Smoke from western wildfires has been drifting into Minnesota, created hazardous breathing conditions for the most vulnerable among us.
- Minnesotans with allergies suffer an additional three weeks because of a longer pollen season caused by a warming world.
Across the United States more than 3,500 leaders representing more than 157 million people and a combined 9.4 trillion in GDP have expressed their desire for a government response to climate change. This includes great Minnesota companies like General Mills, Target, Best Buy and Cargill. In addition, a diverse business coalition of automobile manufacturers, oil and gas companies, insurance companies and sustainable energy companies are pushing Congress to pass Carbon Dividend legislation.
Local Minnesota city governments recognize the risks of climate change to their communities. In the district represented by Republican Jason Lewis the cities of Prior Lake, Red Wing and Hastings passed resolutions with the following message to Rep. Lewis:
- Their communities are being impacted by climate change today and expect that it will get worse in the future.
- Acknowledge the reality and serious threat of climate change.
- Quickly pass legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of climate change, in a clear and transparent way.
The cities of St Paul, Duluth, and Grand Marais take it a step further. They passed a resolution that expressed their desire for Carbon Fee and Dividend, a policy supported by former Secretary of State and elder Republican statesman George Schultz, be passed into law.
Minnesotans recognize the reality of climate change, and this is reflected in the latest polling from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. The Yale study found that 77 percent of Minnesotans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, 68 percent support taxing fossil fuel companies and that 62 percent say Congress should do more to address it.
The National Climate Assessment released by the Trump administration made it abundantly clear that there’s not a debate around the basics of human-caused climate change. Unfortunately, science doesn’t tell us what to do about it. What to do about climate change is a very worthy debate topic.
This election cycle I urge every media personality and debate moderator to ask candidates what specific climate change policies they support.
Tim Reckmeyer lives in Prior Lake, with his wife and two daughters. He is the leader of the Scott County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/CCLScottMN.
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