Americans need to learn about climate change


OP-ED, OCT. 5, 2014

Americans need to learn about climate change

BY JIM SANDOE | Special to Lancaster Newspapers

PCM-1-LR-1024x380Two Sundays ago, more than 100 people from the Lancaster area joined an estimated crowd of 400,000 for The People’s Climate March in New York City.Marchers came by bus — two buses from Lancaster — by train, and by subway (even the extra cars added couldn’t keep up with demand). They came from every state and more than a dozen foreign countries.

“Parents pushed babies in strollers and seniors marched with walkers — a true intergenerational experience,” noted Tom Harner of Lancaster.

“It was an amazing spectacle, a huge street festival, a study in human variety and creative expression,” said Anne Sensenig who came with several members of Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster.

Barry Stoner of Elizabethtown offered an explanation as to why housewives, senior citizens, students — people of all faiths — had traveled to New York City for the march.

“All take what scientists are saying about climate change seriously, and all are extremely concerned,” he said. “They understand the very dire consequences that will result if we do not act now to dramatically lower our carbon emissions.”

I really started looking into the science of climate change after I retired three years ago. I also started taking college courses on climate so that I could understand the science better.

There is just too much being pumped into the atmosphere right now — carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide.

And asthma rates are going through the roof, especially in children. I see it my family and so do most people with children.

We are supposed to take care of the Earth and make it better. Instead, we are driving it to the brink.

Faith groups and justice groups comprised a high percentage of the 1500- plus groups who took part in the climate march.

This is because the climate issue is a moral issue.

The People’s Climate march was timed to get the attention of the U.N. Climate Summit which convened in New York the same week.

We want our leaders to know that we are watching and that we expect action.

I marched because I feel the public still needs to be educated on this issue.

Several recent studies show that the U.S. population as one of the least engaged of nations surveyed on this issue.

Talking to many people, in the past two years, one of the most common statements I hear is this: “It will hurt the economy; people will lose their jobs.”

This assertion has been around for 20 years and it’s just not true.

The most comprehensive report ever done about the interaction of the climate and our economy was just released at the end of June.

“The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-And-Dividend Carbon Tax” was released by REMI, an international economic modeling company.

This report shows that adding a carbon fee at the point of extraction and returning 100 percent of revenues collected to American households will add 2.8 million additional jobs in the next 20 years while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent.

This can be done!

Understanding the issue of climate change is vital to our future.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby has proposed specific legislation that would help control carbon dioxide in our atmosphere without harming the economy.

This was presented to almost all 535 members of Congress in June.

In late September, I joined Jerry Lee Miller, the group leader of the Lancaster chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, in meeting with Congressman Joe Pitts in his Lancaster office.

We showed the congressman the economic benefits of passing a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend plan.

I was encouraged by the questions that he asked.

Our children, our grandchildren and people throughout the world are threatened by global climate disruptions.

The Pentagon says “Climate change is a threat multiplier.”

The long drought in Syria, for instance, sent a million farmers off their land and into the cities. The government ignored their plight and the climate for civil war was built.

Would today’s war with the Islamic State be happening if that drought hadn’t destroyed Syria’s agriculture?

Jim Sandoe of Ephrata is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Control Lobby of Lancaster.