By Maggie Fox, President and CEO, Climate Reality Project
It’s funny. A lot of the rhetoric we hear pushing back against putting a price on carbon pollution parrots the argument that “it would threaten our way of life.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Fossil fuels like oil and coal helped power us through the industrial revolution, and ensure that our cars run and our lights stay on, and for that we are grateful. But our overreliance on this dirty energy is putting our way of life at risk.
Carbon pollution is costing us today, in dollars and in our lives. Just ask the American taxpayers who had to foot the $65 billion in damages from Hurricane Sandy, or the displaced New Jersey residents who saw their homes and businesses swept away. Ask the Coloradans who will have to pay for billions in damages caused by both wildfires and biblical flooding, and who had boxes of family photographs and memories swallowed by muddy water. The damage came in areas where no one expected floods so there is no insurance safety net.
The reality is climate change impacts are already being felt across the nation and around the world. We are seeing serious changes, from shifting growing seasons to more days at dangerous heat levels, to unexpected extreme weather events. This, in turn, affects farmers trying to estimate when to sow and reap, and paralyzes airports when plane tires are sinking in hot tarmac. This has ripple effects throughout our economy. In short, it is impacting our way of life in large ways and small.
But there’s a solution. There are other ways to run our cars and keep our lights on. Unfortunately, right now dirty energy has two advantages. First, fossil fuels companies have massive resources – in the first quarter of 2013 alone, the big five oil companies earned a combined $331 million per day. That gives them lots to spend protecting their turf. Second, they are using the atmosphere as an open sewer, passing on the cost of their carbon pollution to society at large. Other polluters pay their way, but the wealthiest industry does not. That needs to change. And it can – if we put a price on carbon.
Beginning at 2 pm EST on Tuesday, October 22, through Wednesday, October 23, The Climate Reality Project will present 24 Hours of Reality: The Cost of Carbon, the world’s largest conversation about the cost of carbon pollution. Through in-depth panels, riveting documentaries, and performing artists, together we will circle the globe and identify the many ways we are all paying the cost of carbon pollution right now.
I’d encourage you to join us and assess your own Cost of Carbon at www.thecostofcarbon.org to see how carbon pollution and climate change threaten your own way of life. And then you’ll have the opportunity to join millions of others in demanding that leaders from the top 20 polluting countries stand up to denial and act to put a price on carbon.
Every day it becomes clearer that dirty energy and denial are the real threats to our world, not solar panels or wind turbines. It’s time to stand up for what we love.
Image Credit: wildfire via Shutterstock