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Letter to the editor: Climate change threatens our civilization

Submitted by Marcia Woodland (Silverthorne), Summit Daily Opinion

I attended the enlightening climate change lecture by Robert Davies last Friday at Colorado Mountain College. As the planet heats, we face an existential crisis in food security, access to potable water and mass migrations. Davies’ take-home message was that in order to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change, we must eliminate all fossil fuel emissions. Importantly, we must act fast.

This drastic action almost seems impossible, but things are happening. Despite the lack of federal leadership by the U.S., many other countries are stepping up to reduce their carbon footprint. In the U.S., there are state and local initiatives. In our own community, High Country Conservation Center has developed a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Business and industry are starting to get on board, as evidenced by climate change discussions at Davos. Blackrock, the world’s biggest asset-management firm, is starting fossil fuel divestment, and Microsoft is committed to being carbon negative by 2030.

However, for the U.S. to become a leader in tackling climate change mitigation, legislation is critical. The Green New Deal outlines the systemic change necessary for effective action against some of the key drivers of climate change and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has been proposed and would reduce U.S. emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years.

These are all encouraging signs that the world is waking up to the crisis, but are we acting fast enough? We must stop releasing carbon into the air now!

Whichever party you support, I suggest the most important issue in evaluating your choice of candidate for president is his or her plan to address climate change. The planet will survive, but our civilization is at risk.

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