April 22, 2013

This Is Real: Climate Change Not Only Hurts the Planet, It’s Already Hurting You

Today, as we celebrate Earth Day, we are faced with an important choice: will we let the big polluters continue to poison our air and water, and mislead the American public about the damage done by carbon pollution? Or will we rise to the challenge of our time and break through the barricade of special interests that blocks action on climate change in Washington?

Big polluters and deniers continue to manufacture doubt about whether climate change is real. They insist that if we just keep our heads in the sand for long enough things will magically get better. They say climate change is a hoax. They say carbon pollution is no big deal.

They’re asking you to ignore facts like these:

  • Last year the continental U.S. experienced its hottest year on record and suffered from the worst drought in 50 years;
  • Record temperatures are sweeping the globe, with each of the last 12 years ranking among the 14 hottest years ever;
  • The U.S. suffered from 11 weather disasters resulting in economic losses of $1 billion or more in 2012, including Hurricane Sandy which claimed 72 lives and caused more than $70 billion in damages;
  • Climate change has contributed to an almost 20% decline in coral reefs, essential habitat that many marine species call home.

More than 95 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human carbon pollution is causing massive and unprecedented change to our atmosphere and oceans, and they aren’t alone. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, NASA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and dozens of American scientific professional societies recognize that climate change is real, is being caused by human activity, and must be stopped.

Here’s the good news: we, the American people, stand firmly on the side of the science, and against the big polluters. More than three-quarters of us believe that climate change is real and we need to do something about it.

I’m working with Rep. Henry Waxman and other colleagues in Congress to draft legislation to put a price on carbon. Big polluters have had a free pass for far too long. Not only will a carbon fee reduce carbon emissions, it will force big polluters to pay for the damage their pollution does to public health and the environment, generating billions in new revenue for the American people.

We want your feedback so this bill will reflect not just our views, but the American public’s too. Click here to read the draft bill and give us your feedback on four critical questions.

Putting a price on carbon pollution is one of the best things we can do to stem the tide of climate change. With your help, we can take real steps to address the crisis at hand.

On this Earth Day, make your voice heard.

  • Talk to your friends and family about the changes you see.
  • Write to President Obama and your Members of Congress and tell them to take action.
  • Share thoughts about climate change on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Send us your input for our legislation.

Every week in the Senate, I give a speech telling my colleagues it is time to wake up to the reality of a changing climate. I will keep doing this, but it will take public support to move the needle on climate change. So this Earth Day, let’s all make a pledge to each other that we will meet the challenge of climate change; that we will not let the big polluters and the deniers get away with their lies; and that we will fight together to break through the special-interest barricades and save our planet.

By: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse