Covid 19 is disrupting all of our lives, in the town where we live and worldwide, in ways we could never have imagine until a few weeks ago. And yet we are behind the curve, facing longer and more severe restrictions to try to forestall the damage to people, the economy and society at large.
Epidemiologists have predicted this would happen for decades. We have had multiple epidemics in the past 20 years. Covid 19 is the highly contagious epidemic experts have feared. Some leaders and citizens have been slow to react to the warnings. We didn’t understand the potential magnitude and speed with which it could spread.
It was hard to understand the need for harsh strict action when it was overseas or when there were only a handful of infections in the country. The results of delay have made the outbreak worse both from the number of people infected and dying. The delays have resulted in restricting people’s movement and the ripple through our economy is staggering.
Michael Leavitt, HHS Secretary in 2007 said, “Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist, everything we do after will seem inadequate.” We are living his statement out in real time.
Climate change is an economic, social and environmental pandemic but it moves on a decadal time scale rather than day to day like the virus. Leavitt’s statement is very appropriate in relation to climate change. Society was first warned in the late 1980’s just as epidemiologists warned us of potential pandemics.
We have delayed action matching the magnitude of the problem and therefore the actions we need to take are greater in magnitude and must happen more quickly. The wisdom of the scientists forecasts has been borne out as we see more droughts, longer and more severe wildfires, flooding, more intense storms, low river flows, etc.
Farmers, ranchers, fishing guides, forest managers, skiing industry, human health and more are all being impacted.
The scientists are saying we don’t have much time. The changes are coming faster than they thought. The time for action is now. It is crisis time! In the case of corona virus we need the cooperation of the young to help protect the older segments of society, with climate change it is the inverse.
The young see the urgency and they need the help of the older segments of society that are running government, businesses and have more disposable income to act now, with bold decisive actions and investments.
I am part of the Citizens Climate Education organization. We advocate for a bipartisan solution to this crisis called a Fee and Dividend. It places a fee on fossil carbon to use the power of the market to change individual and business behaviors and it returns virtually all the money to families and individuals, so they can adapt their lifestyles to a low fossil carbon world. For details see Citizens Climate Lobby.
The Governor’s Climate Solutions Council, which has about 30 members from across Montana, businesses, conservation organizations, academics, agencies, etc, has preliminary recommendations, for reducing emissions, adapting to the changes and promoting innovations, out for public comment. I urge you to review and comment.
There are many solutions to this climate crisis and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Fee and Dividend Act can drive the implementation of many of these solutions. Let’s act before the consequences are more than what we want for our children and grandchildren.
We can solve this and have a thriving economy, just as we will solve the covid 19, both will take individual, community and national action and sacrifice.