Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Efforts must continue to protect air, water, wildlife, and wild places

By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

We are inexplicably linked to the natural world, its resources, and its inhabitants. And nature is voiceless so advocates are always needed.
 
Being blessed to live in Three Rivers, residents witness daily the resources that need to be preserved. The river is our lifeblood, a perpetual reminder of how crucial water is in every aspect of life on Earth.
 
The magnificent mountains that cast their shadows upon us reveal the need for immense open spaces, biodiversity, wildness, and species protection.
 
The beloved, ancient giant sequoias are a litmus test. If they perish, most likely humankind will soon follow.
 
The dirty, unhealthy air that settles in the Kaweah canyon during the most stagnant times of year is a mnemonic that clean air is a liberty that is worth fighting for.
 
The extreme summer heat conveys a stark message that any significant increase in temperature could render an entire region uninhabitable.
 
Environmental protection and scientific progress at the federal level must be priorities. Not that every government decision on the environment is sound, so private citizens have a responsibility to take action too. After all, it was the government — for an entire century and through many presidential administrations — that advocated a policy of fire suppression in the nation’s forests. And Three Rivers citizens know firsthand what a fine mess that decision got us into.
 
But climate change is a looming issue that has apocalyptic consequences if not dealt with now — Every. Single. Day. — and globally. 
 
The current president and several that will serve in his administration have denied the existence of climate change. That goes against what the weight of scientific evidence has concluded. 
 
And political leadership has a critical role to play, especially when leaders must act immediately and prudently to avert a crisis that will pose grave risks long after they have left office.
 
This isn’t just about a naturally occurring epoch that will reverse itself in a millennium if left alone. This is about human intervention rapidly disrupting the Earth’s natural cycles caused by vehicle emissions, animal agriculture, deforestation, over-fishing of the oceans, coal power plants, water and air pollution, and the continued extraction of and dependence upon finite resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, and other minerals.
 
The United States has been at the forefront in the reversal of climate change. And it is beneficial to us and the planet to remain at the helm.
 
If the U.S. relinquishes global leadership on battling climate change, the world loses. Forward progress must continue uninterrupted as headway has been made: 
 
—The costs of clean energy are lower than ever, keeping nations on the path toward carbon reduction; 
 
—The price of electric vehicles has decreased; and
 
—The costs of wind and solar power have dropped to match those of fossil fuels. 
 
In fact, last year, renewable energy surpassed coal as the world’s biggest source of power-generating capacity. That is massive progress that should not be reversed or slowed. 
 
Instead of moving forward with plans for oil pipelines, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and other nonrenewable energy production, a better long-term investment is in the technologies (and jobs) of the future.
 
Don’t even think that divesting from the climate change fight is free. The U.S. isn’t the only nation that can enact taxes on imports and exports. France, Mexico, and others have already threatened punitive carbon tariffs on American exports if the United States attempts to take advantage of the efforts of others when it comes to global warming. 
 
After all, we are the world’s second biggest polluter (after China). And ordering climate-change data and educational resources off of federal websites won’t delete that fact.
 
With or without the U.S., the fight against climate change will continue. It’s just that without us, victory will be harder to achieve and have irreversible, deadly ramifications that will only accelerate.
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