An Open Letter to President Barack Obama about Climate Change

What follows is a letter my friend Molly and I wrote to President Barack Obama. We also modified it slightly and sent it to our representatives in the Senate and Congress. We invite you to use this letter as a template that you can personalize and send to your representatives, too.

Dreamers take action!

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington, DC  20500

August 14, 2012

Dear President Obama,

As we sit down to write this letter, we are feeling deep and urgent concern about the state of our environment.  As the drought in the Midwest continues day by day to worsen, as the threat of tornadoes increases in Massachusetts, a state where such a weather phenomenon was once a rarity, and as we endure day after day of record-breaking temperatures … the effects of climate change seem all too clear, and we are heartsick over the implications.

The vast majority of reputable scientists agree that global warming is indeed occurring and is due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere.   A new study by  NASA’s James Hansen and the National Academy of Sciences** confirmed that recent extreme weather events are in fact due to climate change..

Our concern goes far beyond the physical discomfort that we and others are experiencing due to these weather events, but extends to the economic and societal repercussions.  Locally and regionally, we are aware that our towns, cities, and states cannot sustain this constant need to clean up after hurricanes, tornadoes and freak storms like the one that devastated our area in late October 2011 or Hurricane Irene in August 2011.  Viewed nationally, the problem only multiplies.

Even if climate change were only an economic issue, it’s clear that it is far cheaper to act now, rather than wait for more frequent and severe disasters to occur. From a purely economic perspective, climate change is a fiscal disaster unfolding before our eyes.  How long can our country afford to pay to respond to these recurring natural disasters, not to mention the consequences of rising sea levels that will soon pose catastrophic scenarios?

The environmental crisis we now face can no longer be seen as a fringe or special interest issue.  We see no other way to view this except to say that climate change is the overriding issue of our time! And it is past time to take action.

If we fail to act, or even hesitate any longer, our world can and will be changed in ways that are heretofore unprecedented.

We are counting on you, Mr.  President, to use your intelligence, persuasive power and leadership ability to take on this political beast of an issue.   How could you, in good conscience, not take decisive leadership on this disaster in the making?  This situation transcends political partisanship, election-year maneuvers, and all other petty concerns.  This matter concerns every human being and creature on this planet, regardless of political parties or national boundaries.   As a powerful and influential country, the United States must lead the way for all nations. We must set an example by grappling with the political difficulties that are inherent in this situation.  Is confronting this problem head on a political risk?  Absolutely.  But this is a risk that must be taken.

Again, let us stress that this is the moment for strong and decisive leadership that is informed by reason, science, and compassion.  If we do not meet this challenge; if we do not act swiftly and wisely, we fear that unimaginable suffering will be the fate of ourselves and the generations that follow.

Although we take what actions we can as citizens and as voters, we feel powerless when we see the utter inaction on the political level.  We are imploring you as as President to take this issue as seriously as we do.

Effective action will require more than incremental changes.   These are the actions we request that you take:

  • Take a strong public stand on the issue:  convince the public of the seriousness of climate change and articulate what you plan to do to combat it.
  • Do whatever is in your power to prevent utilization of tar sands, which would unleash so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that it would be game over for preventing climate change.
  • End subsidies to fossil fuel industries.
  • Impose a carbon tax on these same industries as outlined by Bill McKibben* of 350.org and NASA’s James Hansen**.  The collected tax monies under this plan would then be equally distributed to all Americans to offset the inevitable price increases that would be passed on to consumers by the fossil fuel companies.  This would be an incentive for consumers to use less, thus significantly reducing our carbon output.  Those who make carbon-friendly choices would be fiscally rewarded.
  • Implement a Civilian Energy Conservation Corps to insulate and weatherize the nation’s existing housing stock.
  • And finally, we urge you to support renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro power.

Our country has the resources, the vision, and the intellectual capital to rise to this challenge.  We are counting on you to take a strong and definitive stance at this crucial moment in the history of our nation and our world.

Sincerely,

Molly Hale and Tzivia Gover


* Published on July 19, 2012 by Rolling Stone, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

** Published on August 5, 2012 by The Washington Post, “Climate Change is Here — and Worse Than We Thought,” https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/05

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