Yesterday in Detroit, in the middle of January, in the middle of winter, people were walking in shorts, washing cars in their driveways, and rollerblading. At its peak the temperature reached 59°F, which is 30 degrees above average.
THIS IS SO WRONG.
I am one of those people who cringe with every new report on climate change evidence. I worry for the species who struggle in vain to survive in an environment that is changing too fast. I feel sorry for the children who are being born into a mess that their parents are knowingly making.
And I get mad at the policy makers who aren’t doing enough to address the problem. When I read the articles stating that scientists underestimated the speed and severity of climate destruction, and our very life on this planet is threatened I wonder, “Doesn’t President Obama know this?? Isn’t someone telling him? Who can I get to tell him?”
The other day I had a moment of clarity: I will tell him. I don’t mean to sound naïve, I know he has hundreds of experts and advisers around him, and he is a smart man. But he isn’t getting the message (cue Bill McKibben’s latest article) and maybe if he hears it enough, he will.
So here’s my letter (below the fold). I invite anyone to use any part of it for your own letters if you’re so inspired.
January 9, 2013
Dear President Obama,
Congratulations on your re-election. I know there are many important things to be done in your second term, but I hope that addressing climate change is at the top of your list.
As I’m sure you’re aware, climate change threatens life as we know it on the planet, and it is already happening. From record drought, to extreme storms like Sandy and Katrina, to coasts disappearing in rising seas, to commerce being blocked on the drying-up Mississippi River, the signs are frightening.
I live in Michigan, and we lost our entire tart cherry crop last year because of the incredibly warm temperatures in March. Our Great Lakes are at record low water levels, and they’re further stressed by warming-induced algae blooms that choke off the lakes’ ecosystems.
In my opinion there is no greater problem that faces the United States (and the world) than climate change. Since most scientific predictions have underestimated the rate of climate change and the damage inflicted by climate change, there is no time to waste in addressing it. Thank you for the efforts you and your administration have made so far: promoting renewable energy sources, implementing strong fuel efficiency standards, etc.
However, in order to have a true impact and avoid runaway warming, we will need more measures that are revolutionary and paradigm shifting. This is a great opportunity for you to exhibit leadership and establish a legacy as someone who has literally saved the world.
Here are just a few suggestions of possible measures:
• Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. NASA scientist James Hansen has said that implementation of this pipeline will mean “game over” for the climate. Given that, why on earth should that project proceed??
• End subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and implement a fee on carbon emissions to wean our nation off of fossil fuels.
• Reverse your position on an “all of the above” energy strategy. As Bill McKibben points out in his Rolling Stone “Do the Math” article, existing fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have any hope of stemming runaway climate change.
• Implement the energy strategy proposed by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who outlines an approach whereby we can satisfy the whole world’s energy needs through renewables, using existing technologies and at affordable costs. I am enclosing a copy of his 2010 paper that details this approach.
Climate change is not a political issue. As Bill McKibben states in his 1/6/13 article “Obama Versus Physics,” the physics of climate change doesn’t care about our politics:
“Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.Mr. President, we are the generation of people who understands that we are destroying our planet, yet we aren’t doing enough about it. It is a moral obligation for us to stop climate change before it’s too late, and half measures will not matter.
Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets. Do nothing and soon you have a nightmare on your hands.”
Please show us that you want to act on your statement that “Climate change is not a hoax.” Make it your administration’s top priority. Talk about it in your State of the Union address. Implement bold new programs that show the United States’ leadership on this issue.
Save the world!
Thank you very much for your consideration.