Ask what you can do for your climate.

Author:Murn, Charles
 
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While the federal government is becoming a follower, rather than a leader, on climate change, we humanists can fight on the state, local, and personal levels to achieve huge reductions in greenhouse gases.

If the personal is political, then climate change is personal, too. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump campaigned against the Paris Agreement negotiated in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With President Trump signing an executive order to roll back federal efforts to reduce global warming, humanists must do more at the state and local levels to fight climate change. If you're up for it, there are many things you can do to help.

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are the target, and carbon dioxide is the biggest culprit. The Paris Agreement urges limiting the overall rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Limiting the rise to that level does not eliminate the chance of great disruption, but even to meet that goal by 2050, we cannot waste time.

We must--and can--reduce our GHG emissions to nearly zero. Even natural gas, despite the ace marketing efforts of the gas industry, must be eliminated from our daily lives. Whole books have been written on the assumption that natural gas could replace dirtier carbon-based fuels. The fact is that an all-out effort is needed to replace methane and all other GHGs with alternatives, especially the carbon-free renewable fuel sources: wind, water, and sunlight. Energy conservation is an important element in more quickly achieving near-zero emissions. This framework defines the policy and personal choices that can make the difference.

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL POLICIES

At the state and local level, we must first elect climate-change acknowledgers to office. Then we must badger our legislators, governor, and other elected officials to demand policy changes. At the broadest level, planning documents must be revised to set lower GHG emissions targets. Even the 2017 Scoping Plan that the California Air Resources Board proposed in January seeks only a 40 percent cut in GHG emissions by 2030. That is one of the best state plans, if not the best, but that reduction is still not fast enough.

We know that a large percentage of fossil-fuel reserves must stay in the ground forever. So forget hacking. States can ban it, like Maryland did in March. We must also push states to defy the president and permanently prohibit all new coal mines and drilling of oil or gas wells of any sort, as well as regulate existing mines and wells and accelerate their shut-down schedules. To mitigate economic consequences, citizens must push state legislatures to appropriate public money for retraining programs and early retirement options for coal miners. Private industry must be prohibited from building electric generating plants that burn carbon-based fuels. Other consumption of GHG-generation processes should be limited to...

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