Climate Change is Bad for the Economy and Other Living Things

by Alan Lowenthal

(Oct. 19, 2012) -- Let me give you a number...$290 billion.

Economists Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton from the Natural Resources Defense Council calculated that putting off adaptation and mitigation efforts of climate change could cost the United States over $212 billion dollars annually by 2025, and almost $290 billion dollars annually by 2100. [Source: http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/cost/cost.pdf]

My opponent says "now is not the time" to deal with the effects of climate change, and he and his friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce keep repeating that same line: "Now is not the time."

Well, I have a question for Gary: When exactly is the right time?

When do we start working to fix the damage? Next year? Five years? Ten years? When none of our children can breathe because the air is too toxic?

Climate change is a fact. It is happening, and it is up to us to do something about it.

I have spent more than 20 years working to fix environmental problems that have contributed to the global warming and climate change we can all plainly see before us. Be it working with the shipping industry to reduce emissions by introducing the latest technology at the ports or voting on a comprehensive climate change mitigation plan such as AB 32, I have always been a staunch advocate for the environment.

My opponent still doesnít believe we should be addressing climate change in this day and age. Yet, somehow he is okay with placing the economic burden on future generations by "kicking the can down the road."

The United States Department of Agriculture recently issued a report claiming about 80 percent of agricultural land is experiencing drought, which makes the 2012 drought more extensive than any drought since the 1950s. [Source: http://www.ers.usda.gov/newsroom/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx]

This means higher food prices for all Americans, more government subsidies to farmers to save failing crops, and more suffering for hard-working families. All in all, it is expensive.

We simply cannot afford to disregard the climate -- we cannot afford it now, and we certainly will not be able to afford it later.

In 2010, the U.S. National Research Council concluded that "climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems". [Source: http://nas-sites.org/americasclimatechoices/sample-page/panel-reports/americas-climate-choices-final-report/]

Mitigating and adapting to human-caused global warming will not be an easy issue -- this is probably a 30 or 40-year issue or even longer; but, the fact of the matter is that we cannot keep delaying progress by continuing on the same negligent path as before.

We must continue to set emission standards and hold ourselves accountable; and, we must move forward with a comprehensive climate change mitigation plan which will lessen our carbon footprint and reduce carbon emission levels down to at least 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels.

When the US Chamber of Commerce, who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to influence this election, says that environmental laws are job-killers; thatís not true. Reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants is a life-saver.

We should expect more from our elected officials. "Itís too hard" is not an acceptable excuse when faced with big challenges.