Our climate is changing, and it is now undeniable that many of the changes are due largely, if not predominantly to human activity. Unless we act now to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, adapt our land use and reevaluate land management practices we will be facing dangerously adverse effects. It is through our significant contribution to rising temperatures across the globe that human activity has precipitated changes in our climate.
Although analyzing how the complex array of factors that affect our climate interact with and feedback on each other is complicated, there are certain trends that we clearly can take responsibility for:
- Global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.2°F for the period 1986–2016 relative to 1901–1960; the average temperatures in recent decades over much of the world have been much higher and have risen faster during this time period than at any time in the past 1,700 years or more.
- The Arctic is warming at a rate approximately twice as fast as the global average which will affect the amount of warming, sea level change, carbon cycle impacts, and potentially even weather patterns in the lower 48 states.
- Since the early 1980s, annual average arctic sea ice has decreased in extent between 3.5% and 4.1% per decade; this process releases additional carbon dioxide and methane resulting in additional warming.
- In the US, the frequency of cold waves has decreased since the early 1900s, and the frequency of heat waves has increased since the mid-1960s
- The frequency and intensity of extreme heat and heavy precipitation events are increasing in most continental regions of the world.
- Heavy precipitation events in most parts of the United States have increased in both intensity and frequency since 1901
- Ocean heat content has increased at all depths since the 1960s and the global mean sea level (GMSL) has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with about 3 of those inches occurring since 1993, both of which have contributed to the increasing acidification and the declining oxygen concentrations in our oceans.
Without action on our part, all these trends are expected to continue if not accelerate. Predictable environmental consequences include, across different regions of our country, chronic drought, increases in heavy rainfall and heavier-than-normal snow falls, growing numbers of forest fires, water scarcity, insect infestations, more intense tropical storms, more severe thunderstorms, flooding, and the loss of some coastal areas to the ocean.
In the absence of both changing our behavior to reduce emissions and adapting to the changes in climate that are already inevitable, the consequences to us will be significant losses of life and property, increases in health problems, diminished food stocks from both agriculture and the sea, and a scarcity of water. As a global phenomenon, people in certain regions will seek to escape these effects by leaving their countries for other regions. These mass migrations are likely to lead to social, political and economic upheaval.
Given the existing concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and their low rate of decay, we need to dramatically reduce our emissions. As energy generation, primarily in the electricity, transportation and industry sectors, is the largest source of GHGs, we need to minimize fossil fuel for energy and economize on our use of energy.
As your Congressman I would be committed to leading the fight against climate change by working to mitigate the current crisis and adapting for the future. Specifically, I’ll work to:
- Introduce legislation for stronger incentives for switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy in electricity generation
- Target 100% renewable energy within 40 years
- Incentivize the deployment of energy storage at residential, commercial and powerplant levels (to provide energy when renewable energy is not available)
- Insist on higher efficiency standards for combustion engines.
- Introduce real incentives to switch to electric cars and motors.
- Set a time limit for the phase out of coal and gas-fired power plants and for combustion engines.
- Fund research for technologies to extract hydrogen from water for fuel cells
- Increase funding for research into improving the efficiencies of renewable energy sources and energy storage
- Impose net zero-energy constraint on new residential and commercial buildings
- Introduce tax credits or other incentives for energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings
- Impose GHG monitoring and reporting requirements for agricultural and industrial sites.
- Impose a carbon tax on new car purchases based on projected lifetime emissions.
- Require Federal and state plans for adapting to the anticipated effects.
- Identify barriers to implementing plans and reconcile or eliminate the barriers.
- Introduce legislation requiring the federal government to maintain a “best-practices database” and facilitate collaboration not only between federal government and states but state-to-state collaborations as well.
- Provide more funding for models to better predict climate change effects and evaluate adaptation strategy trade-offs.
- Build accountability into adaptation planning and implementation requirements in the form of higher insurance rates, lose of Federal insurance, and loss of Federal funding.