Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

“Off Fossil Fuels Act” introduced in Congress

“Off Fossil Fuels Act” introduced in Congress

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act) was introduced last week in the House of Representatives.

Though this bill is sponsored by Democrats, there is strong evidence of bipartisan support for rational legislation to meet the challenge of climate change. The House Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus is now up to 56 members, 28 Republicans and 28 Democrats.

Did climate change “cause” Harvey and Irma? This is not quite the right question. Think about it this way: Have there always been hurricanes? Of course. Have we always had hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma? Simultaneous “unprecedented” drought and flooding here and worldwide? Has Texas always had “500-year” storms every year?

Of course not. The reasons are simple. Earth is warmer than it used to be. Hurricanes get their energy from the heat coming off the ocean. Warmer water gives off more heat energy, creating bigger storms and higher wind speeds. Warmer air holds more water. Bigger, wetter, higher-energy weather systems can carry more water from one place and dump it in another.

Earth is today only about 1°C warmer than it was a hundred years ago, but has already shown us significant risks of drought, wildfire and flooding. Our military leaders call climate change “the ultimate threat multiplier”, and a major national security risk. For a musical look at why small numbers make a big difference, see my short video “What’s In A Number?

The good news is that despite the ongoing climate denial acrobatics of the Trump administration, voices on both sides of the aisle are beginning to work toward a rational approach to the biggest challenge of our age. The drama of recent hurricanes has forced the issue out in the open. In the words of the Republican Mayor of Miami: “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

Things are moving slowly, but the OFF Act and the growing Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus deserve our attention and our support. Stay tuned!

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