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The most immediate way to minimize the effects of climate change is to ditch fossil fuels, and look to new alternative forms of energy!

But is this even possible?

Absolutely!

Sweden is well on its way to be the first nation to completely ditch fossil fuels. But as far as current progress goes, Costa Rica, a developing nation, runs their grid on around 97% percent renewable energy. Nicaragua’s grid runs on 54% renewable energy. Scotland ran its grid on 97% renewables. Germany’s grid, giving power to 80 million people, has hit as high as 78% usage through renewables. Uruguay’s grid runs on 95% renewable power. Denmark ran on 42% wind energy in 2015.[1]

Seeing a trend?

Nations with far less money that the US, even ones with large populations (Germany, 80 million people), have successfully drastically cut back on their fossil fuel usage.

But what about coal and oil jobs?

Solar now employs more people than both coal and oil, in the U.S! [2] Way more! 77% more than coal.[3] So instead of trying to bring back a declining industry that poses health threats to their workers, we should be retraining these workers to a healthy, booming industry!

So let your members of Congress know you want investments in clean energy and job retraining programs for fossil fuel workers. Call, email, and send letters to your members of congress. Set a reminder on your phone, do at least one action each month, preferably more often, and get others to do so as well! Find them here:

Find my Senator

Find my Congressional Representative (House)

The playing field needs to be leveled with fossil fuels, since they are one of the richest industries in the world. Heck, five of the seven top companies by revenue are in the gas and oil industry (as of 2015)[4].  One way scientists and economists are calling to do so is through a carbon fee[5]. A carbon fee would play a fee on harmful emissions, because in most places around the world, there is no fee for polluting. The gathered money could be used in many different ways, be it through by investing in clean energy or by redistributing it back to people equally so they can afford to transition themselves. When the IGM Economic Experts Panel, a group of top economists, was asked whether a carbon tax was more beneficial than a standard tax increase, 87% of them agreed it’d be beneficial, with 41% of those strongly agreeing, with only 3% unsure, and 10% not answering. No one disagreed.[6] When Washington was trying to pass a carbon tax (which unfortunately failed, but not by bad margins), more than 50 leading climate scientists openly endorsed the revenue neutral carbon fee in a letter.[7]

If you have skills in writing legislation, it would be extremely helpful. Ohio does not have too hard of requirements (around 90,000 signatures[8]) but we do need legislation written. It does not need to start from scratch, we can adopt other state proposals[9], but it must be adjusted for Ohio.

While as of this writing no environmental issues are on the ballot, it is important to register as many people to vote as possible for if one does come up. To learn how to register yourself or someone else without even needing to go to the DMV, learn here.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to get more involved, please email me at: fernow_j1@denison.edu


Article Written by John Fernow, Environmental Studies and Computer Science Dual Major.

Editors: Liam McIlroy and Summer Aldred

Sources:

[1.] “Costa Rica…runs…97% percent renewable energy…Denmark ran on 42% wind energy in 2015.”
https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/follow-leader-how-11-countries-are-shifting-renewable-energy

[2.] “Solar now employs more people than both coal and oil, in the U.S!”
http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/national/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-25/clean-energy-jobs-surpass-oil-drilling-for-first-time-in-u-s
http://fortune.com/2015/01/16/solar-jobs-report-2014/

[3.] “Way more! 77% more than coal.”
https://thinkprogress.org/u-s-solar-created-more-jobs-than-oil-and-gas-extraction-8634b2aff1f6#.azq1jlg5j

[4.] “The playing field needs to be leveled with fossil fuels, since they are one of the richest industries in the world. Heck, five of the seven top companies by revenue are in the gas and oil industry (as of 2015)”
http://fortune.com/fortune500/

[5.] “One way scientists and economists are calling to do so is through a carbon fee.”
https://www.carbontax.org/scientists-economists/

[6]. “When the IGM Economic Experts Panel, a group of top economists, was asked whether a carbon tax was more beneficial than a standard tax increase, 87% of them agreed it’d be beneficial, with 41% of those strongly agreeing, with only 3% unsure, and 10% not answering. No one disagreed.”
http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/carbon-taxes-ii

[7.] “When Washington was trying to pass a carbon tax (which unfortunately failed, but not by bad margins), more than 50 leading climate scientists openly endorsed the revenue neutral carbon fee in a letter.”
https://yeson732.org/open-letter-supporting-initiative-732-leading-university-washington-climate-scientists/

[8.] “Ohio does not have too hard of requirements [to get an issue on the ballot], [requiring] around 90,000 signatures”
https://ballotpedia.org/Signature_requirements_for_ballot_measures_in_Ohio

[9.] ” we can adopt other state [carbon tax] proposals”
http://yeson732.org/legal-language/
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