The Writing's on the Wall (and Web): Time to Act on Climate

News about climate change, both negative and positive, has been dominating the media recently, putting a spotlight on the need for immediate action by Congress.

Today, I awoke to NPR broadcasting another story about Norfolk, Virginia, one of the areas of the United States on the Eastern seaboard where we've seen the most rapid increase in the sea level. This is of vital importance to the US, as Norfolk is home to the largest naval base in the world, and rising sea levels threaten its long-term survivability.

A similar story in the Washington Post several weeks ago talked about the impact that this is having on the Norfolk waterfront, including one church that is being forced to relocate. The pastor commented that he didn't "know many churches that have to put the tide chart on their Web site" in order for people to know if they could attend church at certain times.

This week's news also included the Supreme Court's third affirmation of the power of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses. Hopefully, this will finally put to rest the long-term battle over whether or not the government can begin to deal with the critical area of carbon pollution.

There has also been a media blitz from a coalition of respected senior officials -- Republicans, Democrats, and Independents -- stretching back to the Nixon administration talking about the impact of climate change, particularly as it deals with business, as well as testimony in the Senate from four Republican EPA administrators talking about the need to support the EPA's efforts with the new rule for carbon emissions.

Advocates are mobilized, too. This morning, on the steps of Capitol Hill, as I passed, there were representatives from the Citizen Climate Lobby from all over the country who are fanning out across the Capitol making their case.

The science on climate change is clear. Evidence points to a tripling of the number of days of 95 degree plus weather in some parts of the US. Louisiana is looking at up to five percent of its insurable land being under water by mid-century, perhaps 20 percent by the turn of the century. There's a trillion and a half dollars that is likely to be under water of insurable properties. These severe problems are associated with carbon pollution and other impacts that humans have had on climate.

It's time for us to stop debating the science, and time for us to start look at opportunities to prevent and mitigate the damage.

First, Congress must accept that the EPA rule on carbon emissions is going to go into effect. We have to stop complaining about it, and begin to take advantage of the flexibility that has been proposed by the administration to fine tune it to the needs and opportunities in our state.

Also, Congress must important that we start work on the implementation of a revenue neutral carbon tax. Virtually every expert, whether conservative or liberal, agrees that we should have a revenue-neutral carbon tax to change the habits of American business and households, and use the created revenues to reduce the impact on lower-income citizens and small businesses.

Experts in climate science, joined by hard-headed businesspeople and citizen activists, all agree that it's time for Congress to get engaged, for Congress to stop this act of denial and come together on simple, commonsense steps that we can make to strengthen our communities. We can, in fact, slow the impact, and we can prepare for what we cannot avoid.

This post is part of a series from the Safe Climate Caucus. The Caucus is comprised of 38 members of the House of Representatives who have committed to ending the conspiracy of silence in Congress about the dangers of climate change. For more information, visit the Safe Climate Caucus website and like the Safe Climate Caucus on Facebook.