The last generation

We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” - Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee [1]

Years ago, many of us thought of global warming as something that would happen “someday.” As it turns out, “someday” is now.

Since 2000, we’ve experienced 14 of the 15 warmest years on record – including 2014, the hottest year ever recorded. [2] As the oceans warm, we’re learning that Antarctic glaciers are melting so fast they’re dumping a Mount Everest-size pile of ice into the sea every two years. [3]

We’re fast approaching the point when scientists say climate change could tip toward catastrophe, with sea levels rising faster along our coasts, marine life dying as our oceans acidify, and storms growing ever more powerful and disruptive. [4]

A two-part challenge

Nobody, of course, wants to leave the next generation a world where heat waves, floods, droughts and worse are the “new normal,” everyday events in an increasingly dangerous world.

If we accept, as we must, the broad scientific consensus that our pollution is accelerating these changes, then our challenge is two-fold: to stop putting carbon into our air, and to repower our society with clean, renewable energy such as solar, wind and energy efficiency.The good news is that solutions like solar, wind and efficiency not only reduce carbon pollution. They also clean up our air, reducing asthma attacks, and promoting local energy independence. [5]

The Clean Power Plan

In Washington, D.C., President Obama has recently demonstrated strong leadership on this issue. For example, he has moved forward with what The New York Times called “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.” [6]

His plan is called the Clean Power Plan and it would limit -- for the first time ever -- carbon pollution from dirty power plants.

Why power plants? After all, when we try to picture the pollution that’s heating up the planet, many of us think “cars and trucks” -- because that’s what we see everyday. In fact, the country’s more than 500 coal-fired power plants are America’s #1 source of global warming pollution. [7]

The Clean Power Plan aims to cut this pollution 30 percent by the end of the next decade. [8] By giving the states an important role in the plan, it also has the potential to speed the shift to clean solar and wind power. And the plan is an essential building block to the success of the president’s climate deal with China – which is itself the cornerstone to a broader global agreement. [9]

More than 8 million supporters

Polls show that 2/3 of all Americans back the idea – including a majority of Republicans and Democrats. [10] More than 8 million Americans have asked the EPA to take action on the issue. More than 600,000 of these public comments have come from our members and supporters. [11]

Unfortunately, some members of Congress – including backers of the fossil fuel industry and those who still deny the overwhelming science behind climate change – have vowed to do everything in their power to block the president’s plan. [12]  

Among the plan’s adversaries, for example, is Sen. James Inhofe, who once called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” [13] As the new chair of the Senate’s key environment committee, Sen. Inhofe has pledged to use every lever of his power to block President Obama’s climate agenda. [14]

What can and must we do to see that the Clean Power Plan is approved and put into place?

First, in Congress, we must persuade enough representatives and senators to stand with President Obama’s plan over Sen. Inhofe and his allies’ attempts to block it. If necessary, we must win enough votes to sustain a presidential veto. [15] 

Second, outside of Washington, we must persuade both Republican and Democratic governors who support clean energy to stand behind the Clean Power Plan – and thereby signal to Congress and the courts that blocking this plan will be politically unpopular.

Third, we must keep showing all of these officials that local leaders and the public are with us and willing to speak out on this issue – because we know when the public leads, our leaders will, eventually, follow. 

Protect our children's future

That’s what happened when we helped mobilize public opinion and support for the president’s Clean Car Plan, the big initiative that’s driving Detroit to make cars that get better gas mileage and that will ultimately prevent more than 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution by 2025 – more than the entire country emitted in 2010. [16]

As Gov. Inslee pointed out, global warming is the challenge of our generation. Protecting our children’s future requires us to stop dumping carbon into our atmosphere and there’s no better place to start than with America’s #1 global warming polluters.

Please join us in taking action to limit power plant carbon pollution today.

SOURCES: 

[1] “Years of Living Dangerously,”  Showtime, http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/the-governor/

[2] “2014 Headed Toward Hottest Year on Record -- Here’s Why That’s Remarkable,” Think Progress, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/12/03/3598698/2014-hottest-year-on-record/

[3] “Warming Seas Drive Rapid Acceleration of Melting Antarctic Ice,” National Geographic, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141204-antarctic-ice-melt-sea-level-climate-environment-science/

[4] “Sea Level Rise and Global Warming,” Union of Concerned Scientists, http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/infographic-sea-level-rise-global-warming.html#.VIjPLtbMg92

 “Ocean acidity is rising in step with rising CO2 emissions, according to a Columbia study,” Reporting Climate Science, http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/new-global-maps-detail-human-caused-ocean-acidification.html

 “In a Warming World, Storms May be Fewer, but Stronger,” NASA Earth Observatory, http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ClimateStorms/?src=twitter&src=share

[5] “Fact Sheet: Clean Power Plan Benefits”, EPA, http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/fact-sheet-clean-power-plan-benefits

[6] “President Said to be Planning to Use Executive Authority on Carbon Rule,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/us/politics/obama-to-offer-rules-to-sharply-curb-power-plants-carbon-emissions.html

[7] “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” EPA, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html

[8] “Q&A: Regulation of Greenhouse Gases from Existing Power Plants,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, http://www.c2es.org/federal/executive/epa/q-a-regulation-greenhouse-gases-existing-power

[9] “FACT SHEET: US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change and Clean Energy Cooperation,” White House,

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/11/fact-sheet-us-china-joint-announcement-climate-change-and-clean-energy-c

[10] “Obama Carbon Rule Backed by Most Americans – WSJ/NBC Poll,” The Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/18/obama-carbon-rule-backed-by-most-americans-wsjnbc-poll/

[11] “Clean air groups deliver eight millionth comment supporting cleaning up power plants,” Environment America, http://environmentamerica.org/news/ame/clean-air-groups-deliver-eight-millionth-comment-supporting-cleaning-power-plants

[12] “Republicans Vow to Fight E.P.A. and Approve Keystone Pipeline,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/us/politics/republicans-vow-to-fight-epa-and-approve-keystone-pipeline.html

[13] “The Greatest Hoax Ever Perpetrated on the American People/Senator Inhofe on Climate Change,” YouTube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7pJjl-bQyk

[14] “New clout for climate change naysayer,” The Boston Globe, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/12/09/senator-james-inhofe-congress-most-outspoken-climate-denier-prepares-take-environment-gavel-promises-thwart-obama-regulations/8T7JivZPSoFYskneW1hffI/story.html

[15] “Republicans Vow to Fight E.P.A. and Approve Keystone Pipeline,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/us/politics/republicans-vow-to-fight-epa-and-approve-keystone-pipeline.html

[16] “Moving America Forward,” page 22, Environment America, http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Moving_Forward_scrn%20EA-rept.pdf

 

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