Ignoring virus, and climate change, won’t help

Karmiela White - Guest columnist

If everything went according to plan, I would have been in D.C. this week meeting with my elected officials about climate change and what the United States needs to be doing to finally confront this looming disaster. But as we all now know, nothing has gone according to plan since early to mid-February.

It was during that time period that coronavirus – infections and fatalities – was spiking in China and had begun its steady march into other countries the world over. A lot could have been done at that point – both in the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the world – but it was much easier to ignore the obvious threat and instead hope for the best.

Barren streets in New York, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, and of course Wuhan, China, let us all know in real time how that is working out.

As bad as this global pandemic is – and truthfully, it’s only getting worse – can we in any way salvage a silver lining from these impossibly difficult times?

Unfortunately, we still have the perfect opportunity coming right at us.

Unlike humans, and perhaps especially Congress, mother nature is more than capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Coronavirus may have grinded most of our country to standstill, but climate change continues unabated. And just like coronavirus, every day that we as a country and we on this planet fail to act is another day lost we won’t get back.

With that in mind, the Friends Committee on National Legislation Spring Lobby Weekend (SLW) focused on climate change I was planning on attending has gone from actual to virtual. I am still meeting with my Washington representatives. I am still attending workshops and information sharing sessions with people from coast-to-coast.

And I am still taking the undeniable message of climate change to those that can make a real difference for our country.

This year, SLW participants urged their members of Congress to act quickly to cut greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the damage already done by climate change, and protect our most vulnerable communities. With more than 500 young adults taking part from roughly forty states, this will be a message impossible for members to ignore and/or deny.

There are several reasons to remain optimistic on this issue despite the rampant hyper-partisanship in Congress. Thanks to unlikely growing bipartisan support, Congress is considering placing a price on carbon — a realistic step many economists consider to be the most cost-effective and practical toward reducing emissions at the size, scale, and speed necessary for meaningful change.

Specifically, the Climate Action Rebate Act is designed to reduce our carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and seeks to achieve 100 percent reduction by 2050.

Revenue from this bill funds a dividend for middle and low-income households, transition assistance for fossil fuel workers, and much more. Revenue will also be used to transition to a clean energy economy and fund energy innovation and infrastructure programs.

The United States and the Congress have a moral obligation to address climate change. I and hundreds more like me will be making this abundantly clear all week long.

While it can be debated whether or not coronavirus snuck up on us, climate change has been an ignored emerging crisis for years. No more excuses, no more delays. We’ve lost enough time and there’s far too much at stake.

Karmiela White is a junior at Wilmington College majoring in Communication Arts and Political Science. Along with advocacy, Karmiela finds happiness in serving her community. She also enjoys working alongside other people who share the same passion for social justice.


Karmiela White

Guest columnist