Today, 80 percent of all energy used in the world comes from burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas. Although mostly invisible – every minute of every day, all over the world – there are billions of small and large fires burning these fuels. Under the hood, of the internal combustion engines of cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes, these fuels are burned. Large power plants burn these fuels to generate electricity. Inside many homes, small flames power our furnaces, hot water, clothes dryers, stoves, and ovens.
Science connects the dots. We burn these fuels; they pollute the air; we breathe their toxic pollution; millions died from respiratory diseases. Their carbon pollution accumulates in the atmosphere, trapping the sun’s heat like a blanket; the planet is overheating, creating extreme weather and more death and destruction.
As the planet’s temperature rises, polar ice melts and seawater expands, causing sea levels to rise and coastal communities to flood. Warmer air absorbs moisture from the soil and vegetation, creating drought conditions that are ideal for wildfires. Warmer air also holds more water vapor, so rain comes more often in floods, like an atmospheric river. Warmer temperatures form prolonged heat domes that make life unbearable for all living things. This is what an economy powered by coal, oil, and gas looks like.
In essence, the climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. The disease, death, and injury we experience only occur because we choose to use these particular fuels over others. There are other energy options. Clean, renewable energy sources are readily available to replace fossil fuels. Solar and wind energy is cheaper in many places. These alternative fuels produce energy more safely and do not interfere with our climate. Instead of burning things, we can just point solar panels at the sun or put windmills in the wind. After decades of study, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that the technologies and policies needed to mitigate climate change already exist – the only real barriers to a clean future of energy are politics and the fossil fuel industry, the IPCC concluded.
Politics will determine if – and when – we phase out these harmful fuels and transition to a clean energy future. While science explains how we created the climate crisis, politics holds the solutions. Political decisions – who we vote for, which parties and policies we support – will determine whether we decarbonize our economy before the effects of climate overwhelm us.
Unfortunately, the political arena is heavily influenced by fossil fuel companies and their political allies. Through well-documented campaigns of deception, deception, and delay, the fossil fuel industry has successfully used its financial and political power to ensure the continuation of its business, despite scientifically proven damage to the climate, environment, and public health. The industry has spent millions to confuse and distract us from mustering the political will to phase out these fuels and switch to clean alternatives. Their tactics are often subtle. This includes promoting the idea of the “carbon footprint,” which shifts our focus from their polluting fuels to our perceived wasteful lifestyles, attempting to convince us that the climate crisis is our fault. , not theirs. To justify producing more coal, oil, and gas they have spent millions promoting unproven technologies, including some aimed at capturing and storing emissions, rather than reducing emissions in the first place. place.
the Los Angeles Times A recent editorial put it this way: “Much unnecessary human suffering and ecological destruction would be avoided if oil, coal and gas companies saw the existential threat posed by their business model and move quickly to switch to selling safer, less expensive and more reliable renewable energy.” However, enriched by record profits, these companies have backed away from climate commitments and resisted any efforts to abandon their profitable business. LA Weather The editorial concluded, “We should stigmatize them as morally unsound for continuing to add fuel to a burning house.”
In America today, our two major political parties could not be more different when it comes to climate. The Republican Party has always sided with fossil fuel interests in supporting policies that continue and expand the production and use of these fuels. 52 percent of House Republicans and 60 percent of Senate Republicans in the 117th Congress are climate deniers — denying the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. The party’s climate plan has no goals for reducing emissions and advocates for increased use of fossil fuels.
Democrats, on the other hand, have engaged in climate policy at every level of government and implemented the Inflation Reduction Act into law without a single Republican vote. This legislation alone promises to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 while adding millions of jobs and improving health.
The only way to stop global warming and the evil industries that cause it is through political action, which means voting for politicians who support the end of fossil fuels and against those who don’t.
Of course, there are outliers in each party who are out of step with their party’s agenda – but overall, only one political party offers the political leadership we need to address the climate crisis. In the upcoming elections, and until Republicans support a clean energy future, we will give Democrats the majorities they need to enact effective legislation, breaking the grip of a fossil fuel industry. fuel, and build a secure and sustainable economy in which Americans and all the people of the world can thrive.