Worsening climate crisis will dwarf COVID-19 crisis

Our war with the COVID-19 pandemic leaves severe heartache for countless Americans, with the mounting deaths of more than 250,000 of our loved ones — and another major battle with this virus is unfolding right now.

Many infected have long and difficult recoveries, with severe, chronic adverse health effects. The economic toll is staggering, with millions losing their jobs and financial security while Congress spends enormous sums fighting this war. The need for more federal support has created frustrating partisan gridlock in a desperate time for many. We can thank Congressman Pete Stauber and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for their desire to — and work in Congress to — ease the suffering and pain.

The COVID-19 pandemic is catastrophic. Unfortunately, the climate crisis will dwarf this virus in lives lost, economic disasters, and environmental catastrophes. Global warming increasingly affects all of our lives. Its damage to our health and finances is climbing steadily — like the current surge of COVID-19.

The climate crisis worsens daily and rapidly will become overwhelmingly costly in its health, economic, and environmental impacts on all Minnesotans. The Yale Climate Change Communication Surveys show that 71% of Minnesotans believe global warming is happening, 62% are worried about it, and 59% believe Congress needs to do more.

We are at war with global warming, and we must engage this fight now with all our resources while success is possible; tomorrow will be too late. As our elected leaders in D.C., Stauber, Klobuchar, and Smith have the opportunity and responsibility to act. They can climb aboard the bipartisan climate-solution “train” that departs on Jan. 20 or they and their constituents will be left behind.

A true climate solution must be politically attractive to everyone in Congress and must benefit everyone in Minnesota and our nation. Respected senior leadership from both parties, major businesses, community leaders, and our Duluth News Tribune Editorial Board have endorsed legislation accomplishing this critical goal.

An overwhelming majority of respected economists agree that putting a gradually rising price on carbon is the single most effective method to address the climate crisis. Coupling this carbon fee with a full refund of the money it generates through a rising monthly check, given equally to each U.S. citizen, would improve the majority of family incomes, especially those most in need. This powerful, market-based economic incentive to decarbonize our economy would create massive new job increases, keep U.S. industries competitive with carbon-pricing trading partners, benefit our environment tremendously, and save the U.S. an estimated $1 trillion dollars annually in health benefits and reduced weather-disaster costs. There is no valid argument against this climate solution.

This election exposed the deep, divisive feelings in America that represent an opportunity for our elected leaders to create bipartisan action to reunite our nation with work beneficial to all Americans.

Now we need our leaders in Congress to act. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) is a carefully designed bipartisan bill. Rep. Stauber can demonstrate his willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion by cosponsoring this bill and by asking his Republican colleagues to join him in addressing the climate crisis. Sens. Smith and KIobuchar can also work across the aisle to forge this important legislation.

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