Co-sponsors Gibson Resolution with 11 other House Republicans
(Long Island, NY) As the Sustainability Coordinator at a Christian liberal arts college, I talk a lot about how climate change impacts people. Some students respond by wanting to hit the streets in protest while others remain convinced I’m a dupe of the “liberal agenda.” The real problem, though, is that political partisanship has blocked effective engagement with the topic of climate change in our country for far too long. While politicians on both sides posture for the cameras, the earth continues to warm.
On Tuesday, November 3, Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) took on a new role of climate leadership by joining 11 House Republicans to co-sponsor the Gibson Resolution (H. Res 424). This resolution recognizes the impacts of climate change and calls for action to reduce further risk by working constructively to create and support economically viable solutions. With a focus on American ingenuity and innovation, the resolution seeks to reframe climate change as a commitment to conservative environmental stewardship.
The resolution states, “If left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans.” This simple statement echoes the results of thousands of studies, demonstrating a broad scientific consensus. More than 97% of climate scientists agree that the world is warming in an unnatural way and that humans are the cause. These changes are resulting in damaging consequences for millions of people.
It’s true that global warming will bring some benefits, including increased crop production for colder climates and generally milder winters for western NY. However, the overall impact of climate change will be overwhelmingly negative with more intense heat waves, an increase in both droughts and flooding, stronger storms, more natural disasters, rising sea levels and decreased crop production for many of the world’s poorest communities.
In fact, we’re already seeing the destructive impact of climate change right here in the United States. In 2012, unusually warm waters led to Sandy becoming the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, resulting in $75 billion in damages. California’s epic drought threatens much of the nation’s food supply. Miami Beach just embarked on a $300 million project to install water pumps throughout the city to handle flooding caused by sea level rise. The consequences of climate change are impacting us now.
Climate change may be a big problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy committed to putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade, few believed it was possible. The technology didn’t even exist yet. Nevertheless, Neil Armstrong’s famous words just eight years later demonstrated that a national commitment paired with American ingenuity and bipartisan support can accomplish a truly remarkable goal. As with the Apollo mission, solving climate change will require our leaders to work together. But unlike President Kennedy’s challenge, the technology to solve climate change already exists. The only thing missing is the political will to do it. We need our political leaders from both sides of the aisle to come together for a bipartisan solution.
One promising answer that liberals and conservatives could agree on is a revenue-neutral “Carbon Fee and Dividend.” This model puts a steadily rising fee on carbon-based fuels at the point of extraction or import. The fee is then returned (100%) to American households as an annual dividend. This would create 2.1 million jobs in just 10 years and would help stabilize the climate, decrease our dependence on foreign oil, promote national security, decrease pollution and stimulate the economy. Most middle- and lower-income households actually stand to earn money through such a plan.
Last June, I met with Rep. Reed in DC to discuss how a Carbon Fee and Dividend plan would benefit the 23rd district while also ensuring long-term climate stability. Because of the timing of the meeting, I had to miss my daughter’s sixth birthday. It was a difficult decision, but I wanted her to know that I’d done everything in my power to not leave a broken and messed-up world for her generation to fix.
Thank you, Congressman Reed, for joining the ranks of those working to constructively address one of the greatest problems of our time. Your courage is much appreciated. Now, we’re looking to you to continue to be our “climate hero” by joining hands across the aisle to demonstrate bold American leadership in solving this challenge.
Webb is currently the sustainability coordinator for Houghton College. He holds a Master of Science in Experiential Education and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard Extension School. Webb is also a founding member of Climate Caretakers, a new Christian organization devoted to helping Christians be more engaged with climate issues. Recently he was the project leader on the building of a new 2.5 megawatt solar array on the Houghton College campus which at that time was the largest solar array on a college campus in New York.