Climate change caused mainly by greenhouse gas emissions released by burning fossils fuels threatens the safety of our planet. Southwest Washington is already feeling the effects of a warmer climate: hotter summers, wetter winters, low snowpack, severe droughts, wildfires, salmon die-offs, and toxic algae blooms. Climate change is a danger to our health, our homes, our livelihoods, and our national security. Every hour we delay, the costs associated with the climate crisis rise. We cannot afford to stand idly by.
The United States should be a global leader on this issue. We need to rejoin current international climate treaties and be at the forefront of future efforts to curb emissions globally. At home, we need to transition to a carbon-free, 100% renewable energy system by 2050. Though this goal is challenging, it is also an unparalleled opportunity to invest in our communities. The steps we must take to move beyond oil responsibly — from replacing antiquated infrastructure to modernizing our electric grid — will make our daily lives easier, safer, and less expensive in the long run.
A comprehensive plan to address climate change is also an opportunity to invest in a new green workforce. Any transition plan should address the pressures that push people into high-carbon sectors and the economic inequality that leaves Native communities, small farmers, and low-income Americans most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. No one should be left behind.
Economic stability and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. We will not be discarded in the name of increased returns for shareholders. We need to stand up for ourselves and our future before it’s too late.