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Climate Issues

Experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say, “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” In other words, there are no doubts climate change is real, and it’s happening quickly. According to the U.S. EPA, by 2100 global temperatures are expected to increase by 0.5 to 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with an estimated increase of at least 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit given current greenhouse gas emissions. This increase in temperature is expected to cause more frequent and intense heat waves, change weather patterns and threaten the survival of plant and animal species.

If you care about climate change, here are some things you can do:
Prevent oil drilling in the Arctic
Reduce your carbon footprint
Stand up against oil and gas pipeline construction
Appeal to Congress to stay in global climate change agreements
Support “keep it in the ground” initiatives
Invest ethically

Prevent oil drilling in the Arctic.
The extraction and use of fossil fuels coal, gas and oil contribute to climate change. Currently, wildlife living in the Arctic are in danger of falling in the crossfire of oil drilling there. Trump has recently vowed to open up 90 percent of US coastal waters to offshore drilling. Urge your members of Congress to stop Trump and instead protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, by writing to them:

Contact information:

Here is a sample letter you can copy, paste and personalize:

Dear Senator/Representative [name]:

I strongly urge you to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as a person who cares about wildlife and the places they live. I ask you to please oppose any effort to drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge and to stand behind legislation to permanently protect this region.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical ecosystem. Each year, millions of birds migrate there from all 50 states to breed and raise their young, like the Tundra Swan; and the mammals, such as caribou who similarly travel there for survival purposes, completing one the world’s longest land migrations to reach the coastal plain and give birth to their young. The people native to the Arctic National Refuge lands–the Gwich’in people–have relied on these caribou for millennia for their own survival, and call this region the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”

Attempts to open this fragile coastal plain to oil and gas development are highly concerning. Industrial oil fields would cause permanent damage to this vital habitat and to the animals and people who depend on it to live. Drilling would destroy habitat, create a large risk of a deadly oil spill, and further contribute to climate change, causing additional harm to the fast-warming Arctic.

The Arctic Refuge is an important place for both wildlife and people. It’s also a special part of the wild American landscape, on par with the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. I ask you to please help protect the Refuge by standing against drilling in the coastal plain and supporting legislation to designate it as Wilderness.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Reduce your carbon footprint.Most of our everyday activities–from eating vegetables transported to your local grocer from another continent to driving your car to work–involve the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon is one of several greenhouse gases driving climate change. Adopt some or all of these habits to help you reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Get home solar panels
  • Eat less meat and dairy, and more locally grown foods (better yet, start a home garden)
  • Install energy-efficient lightbulbs in your home
  • Get around by walking, biking or using public transportation
  • Cut your energy use by unplugging unused appliances and taking advantage of natural light instead of using electricity to light your home all the time
  • Make sure your home is well-insulated to cut down on heating fuel/air conditioning use
  •  Dry your clothes on a clothesline instead of using your dryer on sunny days

Stand up against oil and gas pipeline construction.
Across North America spans a large oil pipeline system, which experiences routine leaks and spills that harm the environment and endanger water resources, and allows for the continent’s continued reliance on oil as a main energy source. And the companies that own these pipelines–Kinder Morgan, TransCanada, Energy Transfer Partners and Enbridge, among others–continue to push for pipeline expansion.

But these companies can’t continue to build without continued funding. Greenpeace is leading an effort to convince JP Morgan Chase, a major funder of these projects, and other big banks, to stop providing money to companies building oil and gas pipelines. Use their online form to write a letter to Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO, demanding his company cut off funding this dangerous industry.

Appeal to Congress to stay in global climate change agreements
President Donald Trump declared the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation because it would “undermine (the U.S.) economy,” and “puts (the U.S.) at a permanent disadvantage.” According to Article 28 of the Agreement, the U.S. cannot withdraw before November 4, 2020, and so its withdrawal is not yet official. However, following Trump’s announcement, 16 U.S. states and Puerto Rico have formed the United States Climate Alliance, a commitment to following the objectives of the Paris Agreement at the state level, despite federal withdrawal. Besides states, some mayors and businesses have also expressed their commitment to the Paris Agreement’s objectives. As of July 2018, 194 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement, while 178 states and the EU have ratified or acceded to the Agreement.

The Kyoto Protocol, effective February 2005, is another important international climate change agreement that the U.S. has not officially ratified. The agreement is focused on mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions with binding targets. There are 192 parties that belong to the Kyoto Protocol, and 84 parties have ratified the agreement.

For the U.S. to put financial interests above environmental protection is a large mistake that puts the health and safety of the entire world at risk. Urge your Congressional representatives to join these important international agreements that make addressing climate change a major priority. Search for your representative and find their contact information here, and find a sample letter to write to them below:

To The Honorable [insert name here]:

I am writing to urge you to join me in petitioning our U.S. leadership to keep the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, and also to move to ratify the important Kyoto Protocol.

This planet is the only one we have. We must work together to protect it for future generations. We do not want to be the generation that causes irreversible damage that will have lasting negative effects on human and environmental health – and which is already leading to human rights crises, wars and major ecological degradation across the globe. We must make strong, long-term commitments to climate change like those outlines in these international agreements in order to protect humanity from rising sea levels, droughts, extreme weather events and other repercussions of climate change.

Climate change is a non-partisan issue that can no longer be ignored. The Earth is too important. Additionally, the effects of climate change will devastate the global economy if no action is taken now by all nations, including the U.S. Working toward a solution–renewable energy–instead of perpetuating climate change by burning dirty fossil fuels will help the U.S. economy and create many jobs. “The renewable energy industry remains one of the most vibrant, fast-changing, and transformative sectors of the global economy, with investments totaled more than $329 billion in 2015,” the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration reported in April 2016. The U.S. could be a leader in renewable energy development, but instead it is choosing the quick and dirty path to its downfall by continuing to rely on fossil fuels.

Climate change is real and urgent, scientists agree. So why aren’t you making it a priority for our country to join the rest of the world in protecting the planet from a sure path of destruction? Please act now by signing the U.S. onto these critical agreements, and sticking to their objectives.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent issue.

Sincerely,
[your name]

Support “keep it in the ground” initiatives.
Burning dirty fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil are a major cause of climate change. Continued extraction, processing and burning of these resources will only continue to worsen climate change. Major climate change mitigation organizations such as Greenpeace and 350.org are pushing campaigns for organizations, businesses, and institutions to divest, or cut ties, from fossil-fuel-linked groups or funders and instead support those who push for the expansion of renewable energy resources. Keep updated on these groups’ efforts to keep fossil fuels and learn how to get involved by visiting their websites.

Invest ethically.
Portfolios and stocks are popular ways to make money off your investments. But some investments are more ethical than others. When creating an investment portfolio or choosing to buy stocks, thoroughly do your research on corporations or find an independent financial advisor who can guide you toward investments that do not directly or indirectly support the fossil fuel industry. For more information on ethical investing, check out Fossil Free Funds’ searchable investment database.


(cover photo: Antarctica. Chinstrap penguins. ©Carl Safina.)