Okay, so climate change is a reality, as recent editorials discussed [“Weather why’s,” Feb. 6 and Feb. 27], and it is a calamity that we need to deal with. But it’s such a huge problem. What can I — one person, alone — do about it?
First, if we approach this problem with courage and perseverance, if we are creative and resilient, we — all of us together — can make a crucial difference. As you become more familiar with the issue, you will probably discover many ways you personally can make a change.
For starters, we can begin to put much greater pressure on our government. We need to make our voices heard from the state legislature to the halls of Congress to the President’s office . . . in greater and greater numbers until our voices drown out the influence that money has bought for the fossil fuel industry.
We are talking fabulous sums of money here. During the 111th Congress (2009-2010), the fossil fuel industry spent a little more than $347 million in lobbying Congress — both in direct campaign contributions and in all the little perks offered to “our” representatives.
In return for the money that the industry spent on lobbying, our government continues to grant subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Those subsidies amount to about $10 billion each year. That is $10 billion that we do not collect from arguably the richest industry on earth . . . with the top five oil companies making a trillion in profit in the past decade.
So, it is clear that the lobbying has been paying off for them.We need to put a stop to that payoff. And the money that we bring into the Treasury by closing these loopholes should be used to pay for retraining coal miners and oil workers to help them transition into jobs that promise a better future. Jobs that are not bringing down destruction on us and our world.
The money should also be used to put people to work increasing the energy efficiency of all of our homes and buildings since the conservation of energy is one key to using less of it.
And we need to put even more emphasis on buying and eating locally — meaning food that is grown right here by our neighbors. This is especially important for meat products. By some estimates, the production of factory-raised meat, so prevalent in the U.S., is as great a contributor to greenhouse gases as transportation. (Remember that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.) We are lucky in this area, because we have farms raising both produce and meat sustainably.
So there are a couple suggestions for starters, but don’t wait. Begin to make a vital change now.