This piece by John Gage, volunteer NH state coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, appeared in the Concord Monitor on Feb. 3:
On Jan. 20, in a hearing about HR 17 by the NH House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs committee, a travesty of scientific ignorance unfolded. HR 17 is a misguided resolution against carbon pricing sponsored by four members of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee (STE).
I want to set the record straight about what we know through science about climate change and carbon pollution from fossil fuels and make it clear that nearly all leading U.S. economists agree that a border-adjusted, cash-back carbon fee on fossil fuel production is our best first step to address this serious problem.
Carbon emissions from fossil fuels are pollution according to NASA and other scientific agencies. Our pollution has increased CO2 in the air by 50% and CH4 by 150%, and half of that change has occurred in the last 30 years.
Much of that extra CO2 will remain in the air for centuries, acting as an additional warming force on the Earth the whole time it’s there. The Scripps’ Keeling Curve 1700-present and 10K Year views show the result of the 2 trillion tons of CO2 pollution we have dumped into the air by burning fossil fuels so far.
Some CO2 in the air is necessary for life. A level of 280 ppm worked well for us during the entire evolution of human civilization during the previous 10,000 years. The CO2 we breathe out was in balance with what plants and seas uptook, before we started burning fossil fuels.
But the extra CO2 from burning fossil fuels is changing the chemical and physical properties of the world around us, causing harmful and costly problems that will grow for many future generations.
Those of us who are concerned about CO2 pollution are concerned for ourselves and for those who follow. No past generation has ever polluted this way before.
The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information has projected how this will impact New Hampshire:
1. Temperatures in New Hampshire have risen more than 3 degrees F since the beginning of the 20th century. Under a higher emissions pathway, historically unprecedented warming is projected during this century. Warming has increased more in the winter than in any other season. Future winter warming will have larger effects on snowfall and snow cover.
2. Precipitation since 2005 has averaged 6.8 inches more than the 1895-2004 average, and the highest number of extreme precipitation events occurs during 2005-2014. Annual average precipitation and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected to increase, with associated increases in flooding.
3. Global sea level is projected to rise, with a likely range of 1-4 feet by 2100. Rising sea levels pose significant risks to coastal communities and structures, such as inundation, erosion-induced land loss, and greater flood vulnerability due to higher storm surge.
A price on pollution from fossil fuels is the cheapest way to put the U.S., and global, economy on a low emissions pathway. We can do this while protecting family budgets and growing New Hampshire jobs by collecting a carbon fee from fossil fuel producers and importers and giving the money to households as an equal per-capita cash-back dividend each month, as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in Congress does (energyinnovationact.org).
This solution also uses Border Carbon Adjustments to keep U.S. manufacturers competitive and hold other countries accountable for their pollution. No other climate policy has such emissions-reducing power, co-benefits, and global reach.
How does a price on carbon where it enters the economy decarbonize the whole economy? It motivates producers and consumers to pollute less while it incentivizes innovation, development and adoption of clean energy solutions. A detailed explanation and recommendation from experts is available at clcouncil.org/economists-statement.
You can watch a demo of MIT’s climate policy simulator, see carbon pricing explained with chickens, and more at bit.ly/why-price-carbon.
We heard science-fiction myths promoted by the fossil fuel-funded Heartland Institute PR outfit at the HR 17 hearing last week from co-sponsors of HR 17. Let’s clear things up so our state can make informed decisions on climate policy.
I will hold a climate science, economics, and policy Q&A session on Friday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. for state legislators who have questions about climate science, the economics of climate pollution, climate policy options, and the cash-back carbon pricing solution.
Will our state leaders listen to New Hampshire voters? 149 local citizens weighed in to oppose the HR 17 resolution at the hearing, compared with only 4 in favor.
HR 17 co-sponsor Rep. Notter’s town of Merrimack voted overwhelmingly (2:1) in favor of studying the effects and benefits of federal cash-back carbon pricing legislation for New Hampshire. I hope she will listen to her town’s voters rather than try to take this option off the table.
Chairman of the hearing committee Rep. Baldasaro’s town voted in favor of asking state and federal legislators to pass Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation to address the costs and risks of climate pollution from fossil fuels.
I hope he will learn why Londonderry (and 31 of 42 other New Hampshire towns) supported this policy approach in recent town meetings. Perhaps he can reverse HR 17, to resolve that Congress should pass the Energy Innovation Act to protect New Hampshire from the harms and costs of climate pollution.
New Hampshire’s leaders should not be fooled by Heartland Institute’s science fiction. Consider that Heartland Institute is a Koch-funded, ideologically-motivated PR firm that takes money from industry and produces misleading conferences, books, and materials honed to delay acting on the scientifically-identified pollution that comes from Koch products.
Not a single scientific organization in the world supports Heartland’s take on climate pollution. Here’s a list of 200 scientific organizations, including NASA, NOAA, EPA, DOD, DOE, and the National Academy of Science that say it is a big problem: climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus.
It’s time for the HR17 co-sponsor STE members to step up their science and climate policy game.
( Register for the Zoom Q&A on climate science at bit.ly/hr17-info-020422.)