How will we pay for it?

Sep 10, 2020 in The Marietta Times by Aaron Dunbar

This question serves as something of a de facto catchphrase in American politics, if a decidedly lopsided one.

Want healthcare for all Americans? How will we pay for it?

Free college? How will we pay for it?

Keep citizens alive during a global pandemic? How will we pay for it?

Fund endless wars with a military budget larger than the next twelve countries combined? No problem! Here’s a trillion-and-a-half dollars every two years, go knock yourself out!

But if there’s one issue we absolutely do not want to spend money on, it’s climate change. And look, to a certain degree I get it. Climate change is a giant, slow-moving issue (relative to our perceptions), where the average person has no way of directly correlating their individual, daily actions with the endlessly complicated effects of our industry on the planet. And conservatives in particular have

a knack for cranking up the price tag of action on climate to make it appear prohibitively expensive, with President Trump once baselessly claiming that the Green New Deal being proposed by some Democrats would cost us up to $100 trillion.

That said, there’s admittedly no doubt that addressing this crisis will take a genuine level of sacrifice and commitment in economic terms.

But let’s be entirely clear here: the choice isn’t whether we will decide to pay for climate change. It is literally HOW are we eventually going to pay?

We are, in fact, already paying for our decades-long failure to rein in our emissions, and the price tag will only grow steeper as we continue to delay action.

As I write these words, the U.S. Gulf Coast is being battered by a 150-mph hurricane, having jumped from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in a single day – a direct effect of warming oceans, according to scientists, along with the landfall of two separate hurricanes within hours of one another from the Atlantic, an event which may be entirely without precedent. All of this comes even as other parts of the country experience out-of-control wildfires almost certainly fueled by climate change, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit- probably the hottest temperature ever recorded on our planet.

Make no mistake about it, we are absolutely paying for climate change.

The human cost alone, and the possibility of making the planet uninhabitable for our children, should be more than enough to motivate us. But as the only language we speak seems to be that of dollar signs, think of it this way: we can either start making serious changes now or later, when the cost of fixing what we’ve broken, if it can be fixed at all, will be trillions upon trillions of dollars higher than it already is today.

And on that note, for anyone with the means wishing to contribute to those affected by these most recent disasters, I highly recommend looking into any of the following organizations: The American Red Cross, United Way of Northern California, The California Fire Foundation, The Cajun Navy, The Houston Food Bank, and Austin Disaster Relief. Thank you.