This upcoming election, voters must reckon with the elephant in the room that afflicts our nation — climate change. Voters must be dedicated to the future of our planet and our grandchildren.
We will be listening to a great deal of political speeches, soundbites, and television ads over the next 18 months, but how many speeches will be about our climate crisis? We will, however, hear about jobs, economic diversification, keeping our children in West Virginia by creating economic opportunity. And, you know what — addressing climate change in a meaningful way will not only save the future of mankind, but will create millions of jobs in the renewable energy industry.
West Virginians, more than others, deserve those jobs and with sound, forward thinking public policy at the state and national level, we can lead the way in building solar panels, energy storage, smart grids, wind turbines and clean transportation for the future.
U.S. investment in renewable energy in 2018 hit $288.9 billion, far surpassing investment in fossil fuels. Unfortunately, China and European nations are outpacing U.S. investment. It is vital that West Virginia and our nation increase investment so that we do not lose these good paying jobs to competitors overseas or to other states. Despite our past leadership in the fossil fuels industries, West Virginia can be a part of the solution to climate change.
We must not think that climate change is too big of a problem to solve and there is nothing we can do about it. As we did during World War II, the United State can enact policies that literally save mankind and create jobs that benefit our state. But we must dig our heads out of the sand and face the challenge.
The science and evidence are indisputable. The past four years have been the hottest in history according to the U.S. Government Fourth National Climate Assessment. “The evidence does not support any creditable natural explanations for this amount of warning. Instead, the evidence consistently points to human activities.”
President Lyndon Johnson became the first president to mention the threat of rising CO2 levels to Congress. You can go online to read the report “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment-1965.” Indeed, over the next decade, leaders in both parties did work to address climate issues.
President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress passed many laws to clean up our rivers, lakes, communities and our air. President Carter famously urged Americans to save energy and installed solar panels on the White House.
The fossil fuel industry has spent billions over the past decades convincing Americans that climate change is some sort of hoax and has been fighting common sense policies at the federal and state level to save our planet.
We must continue our progressive history to arouse a conscience of changing our moral course by providing economic and human resources to improve and enforce environmental regulations. It is no longer enough to sit on the sidelines. Giving excuses without a remedy merely covers up the illness. The political party that is aligned with multi-national fossil fuel interests must not be allowed to own us. We should be aghast by the turning back of our current environmental laws of the Trump Administration. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord abdicated our nation’s moral leadership and threatens our ability to attract the energy jobs of the future.
The turbulence of losing the past election is mild when compared to what lies ahead if voters who are concerned about the future of our planet do not act. Those who want to stop political scapegoating should work to save the future for our grandchildren over the protests of those who say we cannot improve ourselves overnight.