It’s time to act on climate change Representative Thompson

As I wrote in a previous post, a small group of Republicans in the House of Representatives have taken up a resolution recognizing the reality of climate change and a need to act. Three members of the Pennsylvania delegation are co-sponsors: Costello, Fitzpatrick and Meehan. My representative, Glenn Thompson (R-PA) is not a co-sponsor at this time. Below I’ve pasted a copy of my letter to Thompson urging him to sign on. That’s followed by the text of the resolution.

Dear Representative Thompson,

Thank you for your service. Today, I am asking you to sign on to New York Representative Chris Gibson’s resolution recognizing the need to act on climate change. With Pope Francis’s pending speech to Congress and the will of the American and Pennsylvania publics behind it, it’s time to do the right thing. It is time to act on climate change.

The resolution calls on Congress to work “constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.” The resolution has been co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican House members Costello, Fitzpatrick and Meehan. They understand that a great shuffle is occurring and that we can and must act.

As a Pennsylvanian, you should know that the best science carried out in our state and for our state supports the grounds for this resolution. Scientists from our shared alma mater, Penn State University, clarify the picture. The 2015 Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment shows that Pennsylvania’s climate has already changed and will continue to do so. Average temperatures have risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit since records have been kept. Precipitation has changed with storm events getting more intense. Trees, crops, insects, fish and other creatures are struggling or shuffling. Over the coming decades, this great shuffle will continue. Average temperatures are predicted to rise more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit with drier summers and wetter winters. Among many changes, dairy cows will be more stressed in the summer, skiing and ice fishing will decline in the winter and West Nile virus and Lyme disease will increase as tiger mosquitoes and black-legged ticks increase their ranges. Some revenues will increase: energy consumption will likely go up in the summer to provide power for air conditioning, some crops will become possible that aren’t today and doctors and nurses will be kept busy and employed treating West Nile and Lyme. I would hesitate to call each of these things progress or things to look forward to, especially if they require dirty energy sources, increased pesticides and more sick people. We owe it to our Commonwealth to do better.

We are both Pennsylvanians committed to service. You have worked in health-related industries and I’ve worked in education and sustainability.

We are both outdoorsmen. I’m sure we value the conservation ethics of three great Pennsylvanians, Joseph Rothrock, Gifford Pinchot and Rachel Carson. Each of them understood that the wealth of our economy and the health of our people rely on the integrity of our forests, fields and rivers. We know based on the work I cited above and quite literally thousands of other studies that the good of us all depends on a stable climate.

We are both fathers. There is no greater duty we have than to our own children. My son Sacha is eight years old. He loves baseball, going for bike rides, Harry Potter, catching crayfish and playing imaginatively with his friends. One day he will be a man with his own cares, loves and worries. I mean this in no trivial or accusatory way: Have we done what we must do to assure him a beautiful world? What of his children? Their children?

What is our example? What is our legacy?

This past spring, I visited your office with members of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. We rode our bicycles from State College, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C to meet with you and the rest of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation. Some of us are in high school, some middle-aged working parents and one of us is a retiree. We speak English, German and Spanish. We are white and black.

We are people of conscience who are called to respond to climate change with love for our neighbor and care for the creation. You too are so called.

Please hear this call and support Representative Gibson’s resolution.

To today!

Peter Dawson Buckland
State College, Pennsylvania

Text of the resolution:

Whereas it is a conservative principle to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment, responsibly plan for all market factors, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable facts on the ground;

Whereas prudent, fact-based stewardship of our economy and our environment is a critical responsibility for all Americans in order to ensure that we preserve our great Nation for future generations;

Whereas there has been a marked increase in extreme weather events across the United States, including more frequent heat waves, extreme precipitation, wildfires, and water scarcity;

Whereas this has had noticeable, negative impacts that are expected to worsen in every region of the United States and its territories, including, among other significant weather events and environmental disruptions, longer and hotter heat waves, more severe storms, worsening flood and drought cycles, growing invasive species and insect problems, threatened native plant and wildlife populations, rising sea levels, and, when combined with a lack of proper forest management, increased wildfire risk;

Whereas increased pollutants and other factors contribute to local, regional, and national environmental and human health impacts, including increased mercury in the fish we eat, elevated asthma attacks in our children, acid rain, smog, degraded water quality, urban heat islands, and rapid storm water runoff that leads to costly infrastructure projects;

Whereas the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review states that the effects of a changing climate are ‘‘threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions’’;

Whereas, if left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans, hitting vulnerable populations hardest, harming productivity in key economic sectors such as construction, agriculture, and tourism, saddling future generations with costly economic and environmental burdens, and imposing additional costs on State and Federal budgets that will further add to the long-term fiscal challenges that we face as a Nation;

Whereas any efforts to mitigate the risks of, prepare for, or otherwise address our changing climate and its effects should not constrain the United States economy, especially in regards to global competitiveness; and Whereas there is increasing recognition that we can and must take meaningful and responsible action now to address this issue: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.

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