One of the most tragic aspects of the epic natural disasters in California is knowing that much of the cost and suffering could have been prevented had we taken action decades ago when the impact of greenhouse gas buildup was first becoming clear.
More tragic is the backward action of current national leaders when the link between extreme weather events and human-caused climate change is as close to a fact as science will ever get.
Warren Buffett, a very successful capitalist, made an interesting point in a recent article. The tremendous economic progress in the 241 years since the founding of the U.S. came at the cost of displacing virtually all the U.S. labor force over time. Had workers successfully defended their industries from new technology and innovation, we would not be a world economic power today, and we would have the same standard of living as Americans had in 1776.
Those who defend traditional energy industries with economic arguments ignore that reality. The U.S. would now have new power sources employing people in new industries, cleaner air and water, greater national security, and the momentum of climate change would be shorter-lived and more manageable had our government acted 20 years ago to enable the transition.
We still have time and market-based ways, like a carbon fee and dividend, to spur an energy revolution here before other nations leave us in the dust. And our children and grandchildren will face fewer deadly natural disasters as a result.
It’s a win-win.