Something that’s been on my mind a lot these past few years is the issue of climate change and the eventually irreversible destruction humans are bestowing upon the earth. We don’t seem to care if future generations have a planet to live on, and the small percentage of people that care enough to take action on this issue are slowed down by powerful politicians and big corporations. If we don’t act soon, we will reach the point of no return and it will be too late to heal this wound that we have inflicted on the environment, on the animals, and on ourselves.
For me personally, I have two main ways that I actively support the environment. By living a vegan lifestyle, my primary goal is to do the least harm possible in this world. By not eating meat or dairy, I avoid contributing to the excessive waste and pollution caused by factory farming and raising livestock. Raising and slaughtering animals for human consumption uses up a ridiculous amount of water, and natural vegetation must be cleared away to grow corn and soy products to feed these animals. Cows emit high amounts of methane gas into the air, and grazing pastures take up space that could instead be used to grow fruits & vegetables that would not only use up significantly less resources, but would yield enough product to help feed starving people around the world.
Another way I support the environment is by recycling. I don’t throw away anything that is recyclable. It’s an easy way to do something positive and doesn’t take up much effort or time.
However, I’m interested in finding other ways to make better changes in the world. As a student currently pursuing studies in Political Science, I realize that with the right knowledge, experience, and attitude I can make a difference by using the political system. Today I attended a meeting for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit organization that has a plan and policy that can drastically reduce our carbon footprint. What is it? And how can you get involved? Read on and I’ll tell you!
Climate Change at a Glance
I live in Texas, which is a state whose economy relies heavily on natural resources such as oil, gas, agriculture, livestock, and engineering. Because of this, Texas is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Not just economically, but environmentally as well. Texas is already known for having erratic, unpredictable weather as well as scorching hot summers whose temperatures are continuing to rise each year.
It’s not just Texas that is experiencing the drastic effects of climate change. There’s approximately 9 gigatons (1 gigaton is equivalent to a billion metric tons) a year of CO2 emissions. 40% of these emissions remain in the atmosphere and cause visible effects such as droughts, floods, extreme heat and cold, and it disrupts migrating species. The other 20% of these emissions go into the ocean where they cause just as much damage.
What’s the Solution?
According to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), the most effective solution to the problem of climate change is a plan they call Carbon Fee and Dividend. This plan contains 3 main elements:
- Place a fee on fossil fuels at the source (mine, well, or port). This has two effects. Placing a fee will diminish interest in those sources, which in turn allows other sources of energy to compete in the market.
- Take the revenue from these fees and distribute it evenly to households as a dividend. Not only will this bring financial relief to individual households, but it will boost the economy and allow people to spend their money on alternative fossil fuel sources.
- Place a border adjustment (tariff) on goods imported from or exported to countries without an equivalent price on carbon. The main goal is to provide incentive to these countries to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels and find alternative sources in their own country.
CCL’s ultimate objective is for Congress to approve and implement this policy. Here’s a 2 minute video to help explain the plan further.
How Will Carbon Fee and Divident Help?
A study by REMI (Regional Economic Models, Inc.) was implemented to measure the potential impact of this plan. Here are a few of the results:
- Emissions Reductions
- 33% within 10 years
- 52% within 20 years
- Household Dividend (for a family of 4)
- $288 a month after 10 years
- $396 a month after 20 years
- Jobs Created
- 2.1 million new jobs within 10 years
- 2.8 million new jobs within 20 years
- Lives Saved
- 227,000 lives saved over a 20 year span with the reduction in air pollution.
Those are some drastic effects! We could reduce climate change by over 50% in just 20 years.
More About Citizens’ Climate Lobby
CCL is an international, non-partisan organization that is completely volunteer based. There are 420 active chapters all over the world, including Australia, India, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Panama, the United States and more. CCL is solution focused; they don’t waste time pointing fingers or making judgments. Their primary objective is to build relationships in Congress and in the community using respect, appreciation, and gratitude.
CCL meets with Congress as much as possible, they hold bi-annual conferences in Washington, D.C., publish media (op-eds, radio/tv, letters to the editor, etc), hold outreach events, and more. Most importantly, they provide the knowledge and tools needed for everyday citizens to get involved and make a difference.
What Can I Do?
There are many ways to get involved and help the environment. You can meet, write, or call your members of Congress. You can talk to your friends, family, and people you meet to spread the word. You can reduce your carbon footprint by making conscious choices. For me, I do that by being vegan and recycling on a weekly basis, but you may choose different ways to reduce your carbon footprint. I think the most important thing is to educate yourself on the issue, because when we are aware of something, we consciously and subconsciously tweak our daily decisions for the better.
To learn more, check out the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website. Not only can you get more information about climate change and their Carbon Fee and Dividend plan, but you can see if your city has a CCL chapter and if not, you can start one!
Everyone has their own personal reasons for speaking up against climate change, and it’s important to make your voice heard. There are many different ways to do this. I look forward to being a part of CCL and exercising my political power as a citizen of the United States and as a human being who wants a beautiful earth for future generations, human and animal alike.