Climate Change Action: What the DOD and AAAS have in common

  • Climate Change

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) are both taking action on climate change.

The DOD just issued their 64-page 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, in which they clearly describe steps they’re taking to respond to global climate change. In the introduction, they say, “Climate change poses [a] significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics . . . will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs.”

According to the DOD, climate change will place “additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.” As a result, they’re making “investments in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy sources.”

For its part, AAAS just launched the “What We Know” campaign with a 28-page report that points out that “climate change puts the well-being of people of all nations at risk,” and that “we consider it to be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action.”

According to the AAAS, “the sooner we make a concerted effort to curtail the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and releasing the [carbon dioxide] CO2 to the air, the lower our risk and cost will be.”

Like the DOD, you and I should invest in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy.” But our individual actions won’t substantially reduce the amount of CO2 in the air we breathe. As AAAS said, accomplishing that takes a “concerted” effort!

That’s why I’ve joined the Citizens Climate Lobby and am working to persuade Congress to initiate a “revenue-neutral carbon tax.” To learn how a carbon tax works, check out the Carbon Tax Center Scientists and economists alike agree a carbon tax is the best way to reduce CO2.

Unchecked climate change would cause immeasurable suffering to people everywhere. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, CO2 will continue to affect our climate for a century. The least we owe future generations, however, is to stop spewing CO2.

As Wendell Berry said, “We don’t have a right to ask whether we’re going to succeed or not. The only question we have the right to ask is, ‘What’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?’”

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