You don’t need to be a scientist to see the real effects of climate change. Around the world, we’ve seen record high and low temperatures and other extreme weather conditions. According to NASA, the hottest five years on record have happened since 2010. The question is not whether the climate is changing, it’s what are we going to do about it? Fortunately, Arizona is ideally situated to become part of the solution. We have the potential to become an epicenter for renewable energy and clean jobs.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Scientific evidence for the warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” The IPCC states that according to a number of studies, there is “over 95% certainty” that the current climate change trend is the result of human activity since the 1800s. Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the current rate of “warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.”
This is alarming, but we have the tools to address this crisis. We need to invest in protecting our planet and ourselves. That involves a pragmatic approach, including reasonable regulations on pollutants as well as market-based solutions like “carbon credits,” and – especially here in Arizona – investment in proven alternative energy, like solar power.
There’s no reason Arizona shouldn’t be the solar power capital of the world! Investing in renewable solar energy would be a tremendous economic asset, too. The face of energy production has changed significantly in recent years. The US Department of Energy stated that in 2016, solar energy employed 43% of the energy workforce, while traditional fossil fuels only employed 22%. Several studies say that the solar industry now employs more folks across the United States than the oil and coal industries combined. It only makes sense for us to lead the way and be the engine driving the train of the energy revolution.
This not only serves us economically. Climate change is also a concern for national security, since countries in great environmental distress are more susceptible to extremism and the rise of terrorist organizations. Adelphi, an independent think tank focusing on climate, the environment and development, reports that in four case studies, natural disasters, economic despair, and environmental degradation all allow for extremist, terrorist groups to flourish. Climate change makes us more fragile and vulnerable to violence. If we don’t address this issue now, it’s only going to create bigger problems for us and future generations down the road.
As one of the only nations in the world to opt out of the Paris Climate Agreement, we no longer have a seat at the table guiding the global fight on climate change. This weakens our ability to gain support from the nations pivotal in delivering truly impactful reforms. While other nations are contributing to climate change with their own pollution, it’s important for us to use our leverage and set a positive example. Moreover, industry standards for emissions and other toxins are increasingly strict, which means that we could get left behind if we don’t keep up. Sticking to our own standards could lead to tremendous economic disadvantages for the automobile industry, among others. We must work together. Our world depends on it.
There is no “Plan-et B,” so let’s protect the one we’ve got.