Opinion

Climate change fight a matter of survival

Windmills at California's Tehachapi Pass. (Photo: Patrick Poendl, via Shutterstock)

Not long ago, I would have told you that our smart phone addiction was a nuisance. I’d lament to my stepdaughters that they spend too much time staring at a 6-inch screen rather than making human connection. And I’d likely receive an eye roll and an “OK boomer” in reply.

Today, I stand corrected. Staring at your smart phone is now a means for survival in California.

In World War II we planted Victory Gardens and coped with rationing to support our troops. The fight against climate change will take the same kind of commitment.

Sadly, people aren’t checking Instagram for updates from their favorite celebrities or photos of their friend’s vacation. Instead, they’re checking for power outages, fire maps, mudslide alerts and evacuation notices.

We don’t want to live like this.

If we want a shot at turning things around, then we must do more about climate change.

Merely talking about climate change and making choices to cut our own carbon footprints is not enough. We need real action.

Think of it as a new fight on the home front. In World War II we planted Victory Gardens and coped with rationing to support our troops. The fight against climate change will take the same kind of commitment.

The good news is that there are solutions. This isn’t the fight against cancer where our hopes lie in great research breakthroughs. We already have the technology and knowhow in our hands. We just need the will to use it.

We have installed a million solar roofs already and today more than a third of our electricity comes from renewable sources.  But that’s not going to be enough. In order to make the impact on our climate that we need to make, we need to get 100 percent of our energy from clean and renewable sources. That means millions more solar roofs, wind installations and other renewable technologies.

What we can’t do is take a step backward. A group of Republican lawmakers think putting an end to our clean energy goals is the way forward. They want to nix the renewable energy contracts that have brought down costs and spurred investments in clean energy, and keep us on the old paths. That’s just wrong.

We need to double down on our clean energy commitments with an all-in, all-of-the above strategy.

We need more solar on our parking lots, supermarkets and shopping centers. We need more wind power off our coastline. We need more geothermal generation and more clean energy storage. And we need to significantly upgrade our electric grid to make it more resilient to a changing climate.

I’m looking forward to the day when my stepdaughters look up from their phones and I can tell them it’s safe to put them away. As Governor Newsom has said, “this cannot be the new normal.”

Ed’s Note: Dan Jacobson is the state director of Environment California.


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