Climate change needs our help

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 24 2013 | 11:01 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:47 am in
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By Barbara Eckstein

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Dear Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin:

... Together, you have the extraordinary authority of long public service, political experience and commitment to Iowans. My concern is climate change and the need for political leadership to address this reality in a rational and compassionate manner. With your influence earned over years of service in Washington, together you could provide the nation the leadership that it needs on this issue and make us Iowans very proud indeed.

I have spoken with both of you about placing a tax on carbon at the source and returning the revenue directly to consumers. This is not a wild-haired idea but instead one that Exxon, Shell and BP themselves are willing to support. Economic advisers to Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush as well as candidate Mitt Romney also have spoken in support of this proposal to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and incentivize much greater investment in conservation measures as well as wind, solar and geothermal energy production.

There is extraordinary alternative energy innovation happening in our country. I have seen amazing products to generate clean energy, products that need the kind of big investment that fossil fuels have enjoyed for many decades. ...

Iowa’s own wind energy businesses need the kind of support that enables them to grow, support that extends over years and not just 12 months.

Another major Iowa industry, insurance, has had to develop strategies to address climate change. The damage from floods, drought and powerful storms, all of which we have seen in Iowa in the last half decade, is magnified across the world in ways that the insurers of insurance companies have had to take very seriously. The costs are staggering. The insurance business (and FEMA) and all of us who depend on them when we are most vulnerable need political leadership on climate change.

Iowans know that you gentlemen do not always agree. And yet when Iowa’s wind industry needed your support, you did work together to provide us the reprieve that we needed. We need more than just a temporary stay. We need rational, compassionate and forward-thinking leadership.

When the members of my church get too focused on our differences rather than our common mission, the pastor wisely reminds us that we must not only bury the hatchet but also the handle. I ask that you work together as leaders in the Senate to address climate change, beginning with a tax on carbon, returning the revenue to America’s consumers.

Barbara Eckstein of Iowa City, an English professor, is a member of Iowa City Climate Advocates, a part of Iowa Climate Advocates and the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Comments: eckstein.barbara5228@gmail.com

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